Teacher and Principal Compensation: An International Review

Susan Sclafani and Marc S. Tucker
Center for American Progress
October 2006

International education comparisons (see here and here) are in vogue. And the Center for American Progress has joined the soiree with this, a review of teacher and principal compensation policies internationally (mainly OECD countries), and of the research that gauges their effectiveness. The report addresses six major topics: teacher compensation levels, incentives for teaching in challenging schools or in shortage subject areas, performance-related salary systems, principal compensation systems, the relationship between teacher salary and class size, and the influence of unions on compensation. It argues that nations are increasingly adopting policies targeted at younger, reform-minded teachers (merit pay, higher initial salaries, and the privilege to negotiate individual salaries with principals) as part of the push to "professionalize" teaching. It also argues that the United States has a long way to go if it wants to recruit more of its best and brightest into teaching. For example, American teachers may earn the most among teachers in G-8 countries in terms of purchasing power. But when the salaries of G-8 teachers are compared with those of other jobs in their respective countries, U.S. salaries are the lowest in the pack. (However, this finding doesn't consider benefits, which are much more generous for American teachers than their private-sector peers, and which may not be true for the rest of the world.) And, according to the report, as the world continues to "flatten," recruiting and retaining enough quality teachers in developed countries will grow more challenging. Extensive appendices provide a country-by-country breakdown, too. Although a useful compendium, this isn't really a study--it's more of a hodgepodge of facts about teacher and principal compensation across the globe. Even if it doesn't break any new ground or offer any fresh recommendations, it's still an enlightening read. See it here.  

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