The state should give local districts authority over pay scales.
To determine teachers' salaries, Arkansas provides local districts with a Minimum Salary Schedule. Because the salary schedule provided by the state is based on teachers' years of experience and earned advanced degrees, the state in effect mandates how districts will pay teachers.
Arkansas Code 6-17-2403 Arkansas Teacher Salary Schedule 2010-2011 http://arkansased.org/about/pdf/reports/teacher_salary_10-11_030111.pdf
Give districts flexibility to determine their own pay structure and scales.
While Arkansas may find it appropriate to articulate the starting salary that a teacher should be paid, it should not require districts to adhere to a state-dictated salary schedule.
Discourage districts from tying compensation to advanced degrees.
The inclusion of advanced degrees in the state schedule is particularly problematic, as this sends a clear message to both districts and teachers that attaining such degrees is desirable and should be rewarded; exhaustive research has shown unequivocally that advanced degrees do not have an impact on teacher effectiveness. Further, by establishing a guideline for teacher salaries that includes advanced degrees, the state limits the ability of districts to structure their pay scale in ways that do emphasize teacher effectiveness.
Discourage salary schedules that imply that teachers with the most experience are the most effective.
Similarly, Arkansas's salary schedule sends a message to districts that the highest step on the pay scale should be determined solely by seniority.
Arkansas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.