Rethinking Teacher Compensation

Dr. Dominic Brewer

Have you ever realized the correlation between an educator’s salary, their performance and the affect they have on the achievement gap with their students? On December 7, 2009, the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) discussed this phenomenon better known as compensation policy at a discussion panel entitled, “Seniority? Test Scores? Student Outcomes?: Rethinking Teacher Compensation.“

PACE seeks to define and sustain a long-term strategy for comprehensive policy reform and continuous improvement in performance at all levels of California’s education system, from early childhood to post-secondary education and training and considers compensation policy a top priority.

Dr. Dominic Brewer, a PACE labor economist, in addition to the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs for the Rossier School of Education, noted that there is a significant amount of data that supports why the education system is in need of a compensation package makeover. “Compensation policy can affect who gets into teaching, what districts they end up in and if they stay in the profession,” Brewer said.

One of the issues discussed is that the current pay system is compensation based on single salary schedule. There is no direct connection to the pay schedule and the goals of a district and instead, it’s a system that renders low retention. Innovative compensation is a worthy alternative to lessen unattractive statistics. However, innovative compensation it is not to be confused with merit-based pay, as the former is meant to positively affect the achievement gap for students while giving educators the compensation they deserve.

Some other benefits of innovative compensation discussed were:
• An opportunity for teachers to close the gap between compensation and performance
• The chance to connect high risk schools to highly qualified teachers
• Teachers to feel rewarded and as a result continue to strive for upward achievement in the classroom