2011 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy
The state should give local districts authority over pay scales.
California gives local districts the authority to set pay scales, eliminating barriers such as state salary schedules and other regulations that control how districts pay teachers. The state mandates a minimum salary but allows districts to determine the remainder of the schedule.
California Education Code 45023.1
Discourage districts from tying compensation to advanced degrees.
While still leaving districts the flexibility to establish their own pay scale, California should articulate policies that definitively discourage districts from tying compensation to advanced degrees, in light of the extensive research showing that such degrees do not have an impact on teacher effectiveness.
Discourage salary schedules that imply that teachers with the most experience are the most effective.
Similarly, California should articulate policies that discourage districts from determining the highest steps on the pay scale solely by seniority.
California recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. California noted that it is a local control state where most salary decisions are developed through the collective bargaining process. Currently, California does have a minimal beginning teacher salary base, but step and column decisions are locally developed, and the California Department of Education has no authority to alter them or require salary reform.
While it is certainly desirable for local districts to have authority for teacher compensation, the state has a responsibility to prevent districts from exercising that authority in patently counterproductive ways, such as connecting compensation to earning advanced degrees. The effect of a master's degree on teacher effectiveness has been exhaustively studied, not just in one study but in dozens. These studies have all concluded that a master's degree does not add value. Paying teachers higher salaries for advanced degrees commits resources that could be spent on more meaningful ways to reward teachers and improve student achievement. Advanced degrees are a mainstay in local salary schedules, and it behooves states to actively discourage this practice.