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Instructor Compensation: Credentials, Experience, Performance

May 7, 2007

The Chicago Tribune published an editorial today referring to a plan, created by the North Carolina-based Center for Teaching Quality, that considers classroom performance in teacher compensation calculations. The article addresses secondary and primary school teachers, but I wonder about the plan’s applicability in higher education.

Here are some excerpts from the article and the plan:

– “A teacher’s paycheck is usually determined by how many years she has worked and whether or not she has earned a master’s degree. Her work in the classroom – her performance – doesn’t count for much.”
– “The 18 expert educators [from the Center] gathered in Chicago recently to publicly share their findings. Here’s what they recommend:

** Create at least three tiers in a base-pay system: novice, professional and expert, based on experience, credentials and performance.
** Supplement the base-pay system with performance rewards available to all teachers, particularly those who take on leadership roles and who show sustained student gains over time.
** Pay more for additional degrees and professional development only if the teacher boosts student achievement. . . .
** Encourage collaboration among teachers about best teaching practices.
** Offer incentives to lure highly qualified teachers into high-need, low-performing schools — but only if those teachers show results in classrooms.”

– “The traditional pay system for teachers came about more than 50 years ago as a way to address gender and race inequities among teachers.”
– “Last fall, Chicago was awarded a $27.3 million federal grant to create a program in 40 schools that would reward teacher performance. The Illinois Education Association [IEA], the state’s largest teacher union, officially opposes the idea of performance pay. But the union created a working group last summer to discuss how the idea might work to boost student outcomes and support teachers.”
– ” ‘If [teachers] don’t take responsibility, others will and it won’t be done as well,’ said IEA Executive Director Jo Anderson, one of the speakers at the Center for Teaching Quality conference. ‘The single-salary schedule has no tie to accountability. That’s a flaw and a fault we must acknowledge and figure out how to do better.’ “

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While I wouldn’t want an instructor compensation system designed on “performance” alone, this compromise system seems workable.

I wonder if a variation of this plan ought to be applied in higher education? Could it work in our colleges and universities? Wouldn’t this be more effective in improving higher education than the Department of Education’s current attempt to control accreditation? – TL

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