The state should give local districts authority over pay scales.
To determine teachers' salaries, Georgia 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.
Georgia Code 20-2-212 Georgia Salary Schedule 2011 http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/fbo_budget.aspx
Give districts flexibility to determine their own pay structure and scales.
While Georgia 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, Georgia's salary schedule sends a message to districts that the highest step on the pay scale should be determined solely by seniority.
Georgia noted that O.C.G.A. 20-2-215.5 added incentives to attract critical need secondary math and/or science teachers that require local districts to increase level of experience for placement on salary schedule. Salary stipends were also included in 20-2-215.5 and SBOE Rule 160-5-2-.05 to encourage elementary teachers to enhance their skills and knowledge in teaching math and science. Salary schedules in O.C.G.A. 20-2-212 were amended to include limits regarding movement on the state minimum salary schedule as a result of obtaining a leadership degree.
The state should take steps to ensure that districts, in their use of salary schedules, are not basing teacher salaries on advanced degrees and years of experience alone. While incentives and stipends are useful in recruiting and retaining teachers in shortage areas such as the STEM subjects, it is still necessary to address the fact that the salary schedules are based on factors that do not correlate with student achievement.