Redesigning Teacher Salaries

Teacher compensation reform improves school districts’ ability to attract, retain, and leverage a high-performing teachers, write the authors.

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idea_bulbWilliam Taylor, 29, a third generation Washington, D.C. resident stands out for a number of reasons. For one, he is an African American man who taught math at an elementary school for many years. Taylor excelled in the role, so much so that he now coaches his fellow math teachers at Aiton Elementary School, which is located in a high-poverty Washington neighborhood. He has also been profiled in the national news—specifically in The Atlantic—where it was noted that, in a typical school year, 60 percent of Taylor’s students start their first day in his class doing math below grade level, but by the end of the year, 90 percent of his students are performing above grade level. For his exemplary work Taylor earned $131,000 in 2013—another factor that makes him stand out as a public school teacher.

In 2013, after seven straight years of extraordinary performance reviews Taylor received a base salary of $96,000, a $25,000 bonus for being a highly effective teacher in a high-poverty school, and a $10,000 award for outstanding teaching and dedication to his work. With the money he’s saved since he started teaching, Taylor recently bought a house in Washington, a city that annually ranks as one of the most-expensive cities in America. He also purchased his dream car: a black Chevrolet Camaro.

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