Scrapping the Sacrosanct Salary Schedule

by Robert Pondiscio
September 13th, 2008

If you want to keep and retain talented new teachers, pay new teachers more and stop paying them to bulk up on credentials that don’t improve student outcomes.  That way teachers “will be rewarded for the strong improvement they make early in their career,” writes Duke University economist Jacob Vigdor in the fall
issue of Education Next
.

The connection between credentials and teaching effectiveness is very weak at best, and the connection between additional years of experience and teaching effectiveness, while substantial in the first few years in the classroom, attenuates over time. Though exact results vary from one study to the next, there is little doubt that credentials and additional years of experience (beyond the first few years) matter far less to teacher effectiveness than they do to teacher compensation as it is currently designed.

Read Vigdor’s piece, but also read the reaction to it from Bill Ferriter, a 6th grade teacher who blogs at The Tempered Radical. He agrees with Vigdor, even though he benefits from the existing schedule.  “My master’s degree means little to me today, and yet I’ll be rewarded for it for the next fifteen years that I spend in a classroom,” he writes.  Still, Ferriter takes issue with some of the obvious flaws in Vigdor’s plans like basing all increases in compensation on increased scores on standardized tests. 

What we’ll never go for, though, are proposals that fail to take into account consequences for the curriculum when standardized testing is placed at the center of efforts to evaluate teachers—and it’s important to know that our opposition doesn’t stem from a fear of being held accountable for results. Instead, it stems an intimate understanding of what such systems will do to the children who sit in our classrooms. 

Smart stuff from a thoughtful teacher.