The $100,000 teacher

Does It Pay To Pay Teachers $100,000? asks NPR.

The average pay for U.S. teacher is about $56,000, but pay-for-performance schemes in cities such as Washington, D.C. are pushing salaries to $100,000 and higher.

Elementary teacher Hope Harrod earns much more thanks to Washington D.C.'s performance bonuses.

Washington D.C.’s performance bonuses have pushed elementary teacher Hope Harrod’s pay to nearly $100,000.

Hope Harrod, a D.C. elementary teacher for 14 years, saw her pay go way up in 2010 under a new teacher evaluation system created by Michelle Rhee, then the city’s schools chancellor.

Now earning close to $100,000 under Impact Plus, Harrod feels “like I’m very much in a system that’s honoring me in a way that other systems don’t honor other teachers.”

This year, 765 D.C. teachers earn $100,000 or more, including bonuses, reports NPR.

Rather than advance teachers solely on the basis of seniority or education, the city school system rewards performance, with an evaluation system that involves classroom observations, test scores and other criteria.

. . . Essentially, the contract was a trade: more money for important concessions. Teachers agreed to competitive performance evaluations and the loss of tenure protections in return for the chance to increase their base salaries and receive bonuses.

Applications for teaching jobs have risen by 45 percent, say D.C. officials.

Some teachers oppose performance pay because they fear evaluations will be unfair and inaccurate.

“In nearly 90 percent of districts across the nation, teachers are not recognized for their effectiveness through increased compensation,” reports the Center for American Progress. a CAP report looks at 10 cities that are revamping their pay systems to reward top teachers.

Dallas isn’t a Wobegon for teachers

Dallas is not Lake Wobegon, reports the National Council on Teacher Quality. The district’s new evaluation system did not declare that nearly all teachers are satisfactory.

Among the system’s seven possible teacher effectiveness ratings, about a third of the district’s 11,000 teachers were assigned to one of the three lowest. Around 40 percent received a middle-of-the-road rating. Only 22 percent received one of the highest three ratings.

Turnover was typical for an urban district and the lowest-rated teachers were the most likely to quit. “Only a small percentage of higher performing teachers chose to leave.”

Most districts use four or five ratings categories. Using seven allowed “for more fine-grained distinctions among teachers,” observes NCTQ.

The district also field-tested a rubric that measures a teacher’s performance across nearly 20 different performance indicators.

School leaders conduct at least 10 spot observations –10 to 15 minute drop-ins — per year to provide teachers with instructional feedback.

An “Exemplary” teacher now earns a minimum of $74,000, compared to $56,000 for a teacher rated “Proficient 1.”

Clinton claims ‘no evidence’ for value-added

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by both major teachers' unions. Photo: AP

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by both major teachers’ unions. Photo: AP

Hillary Clinton is “saying everything teachers unions want to hear,” writes Lauren Camera on U.S. News.

“I have for a very long time also been against the idea that you tie teacher evaluation and even teacher pay to test outcomes,” she told New Hampshire teachers. “There’s no evidence. There’s no evidence.”

Is she right on the “no evidence claim? asks Stephen Sawchuk on Teacher Beat.

There have been a number of empirical studies showing that value-added measures, which are based on test scores, do pick up on differences in teacher performance.

Whether value-added measures should be used to evaluate or pay teachers is another question, Sawchuk writes. In addition to “technical challenges,” there is a risk of encouraging test prep and ignoring all the non-tested things that make up a good education.

Research on whether performance pay improves learning is mixed.

One recent study of a federal initiative showed a small effect in reading, but that stands in notable contrast to other studies that have found virtually no effects.

He concludes that Clinton “glossed over” what studies say about teacher effectiveness. 

What doesn’t work

John Hattie’s What Doesn’t Work In Educationpublished by Pearson Education, attacks “popular and oft-prescribed remedies,” such as small classes, high standards and more money, reports NPR.

A University of Melbourne professor, Hattie analyzed 1,200 meta-analyses “looking at all types of interventions, ranging from increased parental involvement to ADHD medications to longer school days to performance pay for teachers, as well as other factors affecting education, like socioeconomic status,” to see what makes a significant difference.

Here’s his chart of “visible effect sizes of different interventions and issues related to achievement.”

Why teachers don’t earn as much as LeBron

Key and Peele’s Teaching Center, a spoof of ESPN’s Sports Center, has been a huge hit with teachers, writes James Shuls on Jay Greene’s blog. But here’s What Really Prevents Us from Treating Teachers Like Professional Athletes, he writes. “Most of the things being celebrated in Teaching Center are often opposed by teachers themselves.”

For starters, Teaching Center continually focuses on test scores from standardized assessments. The ticker at the bottom of the screen shows ACT, SAT, and other test scores for schools. The number one teacher taken in the high school draft is chosen by the school with the “worst test scores last semester.” This hyper-focus on test scores (and competition in general) is anathema to most teachers. Indeed, teachers routinely oppose standardized testing.

. . .  The problem is that teachers’ unions resist almost any effort to differentiate between good and bad teachers. The fact is some teachers are better than others, whether we measure that by a test score or by some other metric. If we cannot differentiate between these teachers, then the Ruby Ruhf’s of the world will never get their $40 million in bonus pay.

If pro athletes were paid like teachers, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers would earn the same as Cincinnati Bengal kicker Mike Nugent because they were drafted in the same year, writes Shuls.

Teachers won’t get “million-dollar contracts, but the best ones – the ones that significantly improve student achievement and make a lasting impact on students – could easily garner six- figure salaries,” writes Shuls, who is an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. “Now, we just need to get teachers on board with this.”

There’s no tenure in pro sports, adds Larry Sand. Fumble too often and you’re out of a job.

Kim Ki-hoon

Kim Ki-hoon

In South Korea, “rock-star teacher” Kim Ki-hoon earns $4 million a year, reported Amanda Ripley in the Wall Street Journal in  2013.

He works in a private tutoring academy about 60 hours a week. He lectures for three hours a week, records his classes on video and sells them online for $4 an hour. “He spends most of his week responding to students’ online requests for help, developing lesson plans and writing accompanying textbooks and accompanying textbooks and workbooks (some 200 to date),” wrote Ripley.

“The harder I work, the more I make,” he told Ripley. “I like that.”

How to change teacher pay systems

William Taylor earns a hefty bonus for being a highly effective teacher in a high-poverty Washington, D.C. school.

William Taylor, 29, teaches math and coaches colleagues at a Washington, D.C. elementary school. Only 40 percent of his students start at grade level, but 90 percent end the year at or above grade level, reported Amanda Ripley in a 2010 Atlantic story on “what makes a great teacher.”

Before District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) revamped teacher compensation in 2009, Taylor was paid $42,000 a year.

In 2013, after seven straight years of extraordinary performance reviews Taylor received a base salary of $96,000, a $25,000 bonus for being a highly effective teacher in a high-poverty school, and a $10,000 award for outstanding teaching and dedication to his work.

Taylor no longer plans to leave the profession, according to Do More, Add More, Earn More. The report by Education Resource Strategies and the Center for American Progress looks at 10 school districts that have redesigned their teacher compensation systems to reward effectiveness and additional responsibilities.

The transition is challenging, writes Fawn Johnson on National Journal.

 The authors recommend, for example, that teachers be offered extra incentive pay for taking jobs in hard-to-staff schools or for taking on leadership roles such as department heads, curriculum writers, or principal interns. They suggest speeding up the salary growth for new, high-performing teachers such that they can reach the district maximum in 10 years or fewer. New hires will more likely be attracted to the job if they know they won’t be on subsistence wages well into middle age.

. . . Teachers on the old salary structure need to be transitioned into a new one that doesn’t automatically increase their pay for time on the job or for extraneous things like advanced degrees. The lowest-performing teachers need to stop getting raises. Period. These changes can be incredibly disruptive, especially in districts that need to cull a lot of “dead weight” teachers. (Yes, that happens.)

Teacher evaluation is the trickiest part.

What teachers earn over time

How much do teachers make? Don’t just look at starting and peak salaries, advises Smart Money, a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality. What counts is how quickly teachers climb the salary ladder. For example, Boston teachers take seven years to reach $75,000 compared to 30 years in Wichita.

The report analyzes 2013-2014 teacher salary schedules in 113 mostly large school districts employing about 20 percent of the nation’s public school teachers.

The top five districts on lifetime earnings include Pittsburgh and the District of Columbia, for highly effective teachers in those two districts, as well as all teachers in Columbus (OH), Atlanta and Jefferson County (KY), which don’t have performance pay.

Adjusting for a high cost of living depressed pay in New York City, Hawaii, San Francisco, Newark and Oakland. Columbus (OH) pays teachers the most when cost of living is factored in.

The maximum salary a teacher can earn over a 30-year career ranges from $52,325 in Oklahoma City to $106,540 for an exemplary teacher in the District of Columbia.

Starting and ending salaries can be highly misleading. For example, Rochester posts relatively high starting and ending salaries ($42,917 and $120,582 respectively), but, over a 30-year career, teachers accrue $1.92 million in lifetime earnings. Conversely, Milwaukee teachers start at $41,070 but accrue $2.04 million over their careers because it only takes 15 years to get to their lower max salary of $78,143.

. . .  All performance pay systems are not created equal. Some districts like D.C. and Pittsburgh make it possible for exemplary teachers to earn the maximum pay in relatively short order, while others like Jefferson Parish and Caddo Parish in Louisiana do not.

There’s an interactive map of the 113 districts here.

Districts drop extra pay for master’s

Teachers with master’s degrees aren’t any more effective than their non-degreed colleagues, say researchers. Now North Carolina, Dallas and Houston are cutting extra pay for advanced degrees.

“Effectiveness is more based on results rather than any checklist of things,” said Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles, who implemented a pay-for-performance system in the district, as he did at his previous district in Colorado. “So years of service and the advance degrees are checklist-type things.”

Yet the backlash in North Carolina grew so intense that the state is now looking at reinstating the extra pay for those teaching classes related to the subject in which they have an advanced degree.

Teacher turnover is up sharply in the state’s largest school district, Wake County.

Teachers should be paid based on how hard their jobs are and how well they’re doing them, argues The New Teachers Project in Shortchanged: The Hidden Cost of Lockstep Teacher Pay

Effective teachers should be able to move quickly up the pay scale in the first five years and earn raises for strong classroom performance, the report recommends. In addition, compensation systems should reward “great teachers in high-need schools.”

How a charter network evaluates teachers

Evaluating teachers’ effectiveness is a priority for the Aspire network of 37 charter schools, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s not just about test scores.

When Eva Kellogg’s bosses evaluated her performance as a teacher, they observed her classes. They reviewed her lesson plans. They polled her students, their parents and other teachers. And then they took a look at her students’ standardized test scores.

When the lengthy process was over, the eighth-grade English teacher at Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland had received the highest rank possible.

She was a master teacher.

And based on her job performance, she got a $3,000 bonus as well as a metaphorical front-row seat at one of the biggest battles in public education: how to evaluate teachers and whether to give good ones a bigger paycheck.

Forty percent of a teacher’s score is based on observation by the principal, 30 percent on students’ standardized test scores and the rest on student, colleague and family feedback, as well as the school’s overall test scores.

Teachers are ranked as emerging, effective, highly effective or master. Bonuses range from $500 to $3,000.

Study: Evaluation works in DC

The District of Columbia’s teacher evaluation system — with rewards for the best and firing for the worst — is working, according to a a new study.  “Teachers on the cusp of dismissal under D.C.’s IMPACT evaluation system improved their performance by statistically significant margins, as did those on the cusp of winning a large financial bonus,” reports Ed Week.

 D.C.’s IMPACT evaluation system relies on a complex mix of factors to score each teacher, including both multiple observations and measures of student achievement. Teachers deemed ineffective under the system can be dismissed, while those scoring at the “minimally effective” level, the second lowest, get one year to improve. Those teachers who earn the “highly effective” rating are eligible for bonuses of up to $25,000. Earning successive “highly effective” ratings also permits teachers to skip ahead several steps on the salary scale.

Since its rollout, IMPACT has led to the dismissal of several hundred teachers.

The much-reviled Michelle Rhee started IMPACT when she was chancellor, jump-starting the evaluation program with foundation grants.

Are D.C. students learning more? The study didn’t look at student achievement.