New Series: Rewarding Great Teaching

We intuitively know that teachers have a huge influence on student achievement.  Every day it is teachers who are with our students bringing order to the day, delivering lessons, stimulating learning, modeling learning behaviors, and personalizing instruction to each child’s needs. Great teachers engage their students, excite them about learning, and deliver content in interesting ways. Students are changed by great teaching – their curiosity is activated, they engage more deeply with the material, and they make connections between their prior experiences and what is being taught. The result is more learning, more growth, and higher academic achievement.

In the last 20 years, researchers have conducted study after study that confirms this fact:  for any given school, teacher quality makes a huge difference in student performance.  In fact, improving the quality of teaching is the single most important lever a school system can pull to improve student achievement.   It is much more important than class size.   And it is more cost-effective than any other systemic intervention.

Knowing that high quality teachers are so important, we ought to run our schools in a way that attracts, develops, and retains high quality teachers. Excellent teaching should be rewarded.  In fact, teaching excellence is so important that it should be at the center of our district’s human resource practices.  And the compensation system is one of the most important practices we need to change.

In any business, compensation systems are designed to attract and retain employees, and also to reward performance toward organizational goals.  Total compensation consists of direct compensation (financial remuneration paid directly to the employee), and indirect compensation (non-monetary remuneration including insurance, pensions, perks, and paid vacation.)

In most employers (public sector and private sector), direct compensation features market-linked base pay; base pay differentiated by performance (merit increases) and capability (skills and knowledge); and incentive pay (bonuses) based on performance.   Measurement systems are also used to  measure business outcomes and the employee actions that contributed to them.Comp System

But teacher compensation is unique.  All employees are essentially paid the same (or more precisely, as if their jobs are the same) and teacher direct compensation has no incentive pay.    And this is a major obstacle when it comes to improving teacher quality.

In a series of posts, we will look at the importance of teacher quality, how teacher compensation works today, and how we could change the compensation model to align rewards with the organizational goals of our schools.  Here is our road map for the next few weeks:

1. How much is great teaching worth?
2. How does teacher pay work?
3. How can teachers increase their pay?
3a.  UCF Teacher Pay Infographic
4. Why pay more for advanced degrees and experience?
5. The Historical Good of Step and Lane
6. Is National Board Certification a Path to Teacher Quality?
7. How much do UCF teachers earn?
8. How well do we pay UCF teachers?
9.  How good is UCF’s benefits package
Benefits part 1
Benefits part 2
Benefits part 3
Benefits summary
Retirement benefits part 1
Retirement benefits part 2

10. How does Teacher pay compare to private sector alternatives?
11. How should we change teacher compensation?
12. What are some successful models that have been implemented elsewhere?
13. What could we actually do now at UCFSD?