Teacher Compensation Policy
The state should encourage districts to provide compensation for related prior subject-area work experience. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.
Requirements: Rhode Island does not have a formal policy to encourage its districts to provide
compensation for prior subject-area work experience.
Encourage districts to compensate new teachers with relevant prior work experience.
While still leaving districts with the flexibility to determine their own pay scales, Rhode Island should encourage districts to incorporate mechanisms such as starting these teachers at a higher salary than other new teachers. Such policies would be attractive to career changers with related work experience, such as in the STEM subjects.
Rhode Island recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also provided that there are some districts that offer compensation for prior work experience, but it is accurate that no state policy exists in this area.
8C: Prior Work
Districts should be allowed to pay new teachers with relevant work experience more than other new teachers. State and district salary structures frequently fail to recognize that new teacher hires are not necessarily new to the workforce. Some new teachers bring with them deep work experience that is directly related to the subject matter they will teach. For example, the hiring of a new high school chemistry teacher with 20 years' experience as a chemical engineer would likely be a great boon to any district. Yet most salary structures would place this individual at the same point on the pay schedule as a new teacher straight out of college. Compensating these teachers commensurate with their experience is an important recruitment and retention strategy, particularly when other, non-teaching opportunities in these fields are likely to be more financially lucrative.
Specifics of teacher pay should largely be left to local decision making. However, states should use policy mechanisms to inform districts that it is not only permissible, but also necessary, to compensate new teachers with relevant prior work experience.