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Report: 'The True Value of Teacher Compensation for Most U.S. Public School Teachers is Poorly Understood'

Report: 'The True Value of of Teacher Compensation for Most U.S. Public School Teacher is Poorly Understood'

A new report from researchers at the Manhattan Institute took a look at "true total compensation, including salary and pension, for teachers at varying years of experience in the ten largest U.S. public school districts."

It found that teacher compensation is severely backloaded, causing public schools to pay a much higher premium for teacher experience than originally thought.

The confusing compensation plans from New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dade County (FL), Clark County (NV), Broward County (FL), Houston, Hillsborough County (FL), Hawaii, and Philadelphia have led the researchers to believe that the true value of total compensation for most U.S. public school teachers is both poorly understood and "poorly aligned with teacher performance."

Researchers Josh B. McGee and Marcus A. Winters arrive at the conclusion that compensation plans not based on performance are not ideal, arguing that not only does it not make sense for ensuring quality, but it also creates a confusing and misunderstood system of compensation.

McGee and Winters point to research that indicates that teachers make the most improvement in their careers during the first two years on the job, and that subsequent years indicate only modest improvement. In other words, the researchers argue that paying for years of experience does not increase teacher quality as is intended.

They offer a cash-balance system alternative which they say will maintain "a traditional annuity, but in which teachers accrue pension value more smoothly over time. They model such a system, holding costs constant, in the country’s ten largest school districts," according to The 74.

"All in all, this report is an important contribution to the ongoing debate on teacher compensation and pensions. It’s just the latest of many reasons to think our current compensation systems are not maximizing teacher quality. The question now is whether policymakers will do something about it," The 74 said.

Read the full report here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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