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Opinion: Pay Teachers More, See Great Results

Opinion: Pay Teachers More, See Great Results

It is a known fact that a great teacher can change a child's life forever, and a group of high-quality, trained teachers can change an entire district for the better. When these two facts are evident, why aren't teachers paid more than they deserve?

This question was asked by Jessica Leber in her article on FastCoExist.com. In her article, "Here's What Happens When A School Pays Its Teachers a Lot, Lot More Money," Leber explains when teachers are paid more, they perform better and students learn better.

"If high-quality teachers are so valuable, why don’t we pay them more?" she asked. "If even first-year doctors, lawyers, investment bankers, and programmers can pull in more than $100,000, why are experienced teachers in the nation’s most expensive city to live only paid between $64,000 and $76,000?"

Leber then referred to the charter middle school in Manhattan that has been paying its teachers a salary of "$125,000 a year, with extra bonuses based on performance", called The Equity Project. The school, Leber said, "also expects a lot more from them, including longer hours and slightly larger classes, four weeks of professional development a year, and regular reviews once hired."

Leber said the Wall Street Journal conducted the first long-term study "to evaluate the school shows that its unusual model is producing results." The study, which was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, "compared the school’s 480 students with students in a nearby public district school who had similar initial test scores, family incomes, and other demographics (the neighborhood is mostly Hispanic)."

"After four years at the charter school, eighth-graders showed average test score gains in math equal to an additional year and a half of school, compared with district students," said the Wall Street Journal. "The study found these charter students’ gains equaled more than an extra half-year in science and almost an extra half-year in English."

The school, Leber said, "had to make compromises to pay the teacher’s so much, including a larger class size and a meager administrative staff, in its effort to create a 'sustainable and conservative financial model' that avoids outside private funding. Some compromises were also by design--the school’s principal is paid less than the teachers to encourage the best teachers to stay in the classroom."

"Though it’s not clear The Equity Project’s model would work everywhere or on a much wider scale, what is clear is that higher teacher pay for great teachers may be a relatively simple solution to add to the mix in the complicated debate over school reform," Leber said.

Read the full story. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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