Teacher Compensation in Charter and Private Schools: Snapshots and Lessons for District Public Schools

Julie Kowal, Emily Ayscue Hassel, and Bryan C. Hassel
Center for American Progress
2007

It's standard practice in most enterprises: do high-quality work,
or develop expertise in a high-need area, and you'll earn more money.
But not in K-12 education, where "single-salary scales" require that
schools pay teachers according to their years of experience and degrees
earned, not the quality of their performance or the demand for their
skills. Yes, you already knew that. But in public charter schools and
private schools across the nation, some leaders are experimenting with
using pay as a tool to keep and retain the best teachers. This report by
Bryan Hassel and his team at Public Impact looks at such experiments
and what district schools can learn from them. (See a 2001 Fordham
report by Michael Podgursky and Dale Ballou on this topic, here.)
Hassel and company find a considerably higher incidence of charters and
public schools taking measures such as abandoning "single-pay scales";
offering higher starting salaries to high-needs science, math, and
special education teachers; using pay for performance as a carrot and
stick to accomplish student learning objectives; and providing
"non-financial" rewards such as better working conditions to attract and
retain top teachers. None of these alone is revolutionary, says Hassel.
The important point is that "School leaders in the charter and private
sectors [are] trying to use compensation as a tool to meet their goals." [Italics
in original report.] By contrast, "district school principals don't
‘use' compensation in any meaningful sense," says Hassel. If only they
could. This short report is worth a read. Find it here.

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