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Differential Teacher Pay Initiatives: An Overview

Education reformers in America have recently focused intensely on improving the quality of teaching while simultaneously expanding the ranks of teachers. This drive to improve teacher quality has placed the field—its preparation, licensure and compensation—under intense scrutiny by policymakers, researchers, advocates and practitioners.

Federal legislation has increased the stakes. The twin goals of ensuring the placement of “highly qualified teachers” in classrooms and holding schools accountable for students’ academic achievement are hallmarks of No Child Left Behind. Some states and districts struggling with these challenges are breaking with traditional uniform salary schedules and experimenting with teacher compensation models that include differential pay components. Instead of rewarding teachers for educational attainment and experience, which is the current model for compensation, differential pay plans tend to reward teachers for three types of accomplishments: knowledge and skills-based pay, student achievement, and the assumption of additional responsibilities. In some, teachers are also compensated for working in hard-to-staff schools or subjects.

This memo provides background information on various differential pay initiatives that have emerged around the country. Included are summaries of statewide plans, district initiatives, a charter school plan, and two other initiatives that have broader national scope.

View the memo:

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