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Differential Teacher Pay Initiatives

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Publication Date: December 2006

Publisher(s): Center for American Progress


Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation

Topic: Education (Education financing, facilities, and equipment)
Education (Statistics, research, and research methods and financing)
Education (Education policy and planning)

Keywords: teacher compensation; pay initiatives; education; charter schools

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


The Center for American Progress has released three reports on teacher compensation as a potential solution to improving teacher quality. Differential Teacher Pay Initiatives provides background information on various differential pay initiatives that have emerged around the country, including statewide plans, district initiatives, a charter school plan, and two other initiatives that have broader national scope.

Education research convincingly shows that teacher quality is the most important schooling factor influencing student achievement. A very good teacher as opposed to a very bad one can make as much as a full year’s difference in learning growth for students. Increases in teacher quality swamp the impact of any other educational investment, such as reductions in class size. To improve teacher quality, some states and districts are breaking with traditional uniform salary schedules and experimenting with teacher compensation models as a promising solution. 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.