Center for American Progress

Six Cornerstones of an Effective Performance-Based Compensation System
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Six Cornerstones of an Effective Performance-Based Compensation System

The lesson of performance-based compensation is one of institutional change.

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The lesson of performance-based compensation is one of institutional change. A focus on student learning, and a teacher’s contribution to such learning, can be a significant catalyst for systemwide change—if the initiative also addresses the district factors that shape each school. The six cornerstones of performance-based compensation are at the heart of this finding and the essence of this reform:

  • Performance-based compensation is a systemic reform.
  • Compensation reform must be done with teachers, not to teachers.
  • Compensation reform must be organizationally sustainable.
  • Performance-based compensation must be financially sustainable.
  • A broad base of support is required in the district and community.
  • Performance-based compensation must go beyond politics and finances to benefit students.

Connecting teacher compensation to classroom, school, and district effectiveness is a step forward in thinking, but it requires an even more significant leap forward in implementation know-how, institutional change, and policy development. The cornerstones provide the basis for developing district and state capacity to implement and sustain innovative practices, and to be accountable for improving student achievement. The cornerstones have specifically evolved from the Community Training and Assistance Center’s 30 years of experience in national school reform.

The challenge ahead for both district practice and public policy is to successfully overcome the misunderstandings and myths surrounding the link between what teachers earn and what students learn, and to create the conditions needed to realize the potential of performance-based compensation.

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