Teacher Compensation Policy
The state should encourage districts to provide compensation for related prior subject-area work experience. This goal remains unchanged in 2021.
Requirements: Tennessee does not have a formal policy to encourage its districts to provide compensation for related prior subject-area work experience. Although the state explicitly delineates the kinds of experiences recognized for salary purposes in a non-exhaustive list, subject-area work is not on the list.
Tennessee Administrative Rules and Regulations 0520-1-2-.02
Encourage districts to compensate new teachers with relevant prior work experience.
While still leaving districts with the flexibility to determine their own pay scales, Tennessee should amend its policy to explicitly encourage districts to provide compensation for related prior subject-area work experience. Explicitly encouraging such policies could be an effective way to attract career changers with related work experience, such as in the STEM subjects.
Tennessee recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.