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Plcy 220 - Campaigns and Elections

Autor:   •  April 15, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  2,194 Words (9 Pages)  •  144 Views

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Megan Nicole Lambert

PLCY 220


There is no contesting that the economic well-being of a nation is dependent upon the knowledge and skills of its workforce. Education plays a key role in preparing children and young adults with the tools necessary to establish a living and contribute to the nation’s economy. Education research has shown that teacher quality is the most important factor influencing student achievement, and according to the Center for Education Reform, a “very good” teacher as opposed to a “very bad” one can make as much as a full year’s difference in a student’s learning growth (Boyd, 176-177). Over the years, however, teachers have been hit hard by economic hard-times and market fluctuations; and, no one denies teachers are over-worked and under-paid. Because of this, salary is a major factor behind the high rate of teacher turnover (Florida Department of Education).

Many argue the effect of increases in teacher quality “swamps the impact of any other educational investment, like reductions in class size,” and according to the Pew Center for Research, the best way to attract quality teachers is by increasing pay. Yet, improving the pay (and therefore quality) of the teacher workforce presents educational policy-makers and politicians with a difficult task. Much of this is attributed to the fact that there is no specific credential or definitive characteristic able to predict quality. This often casts opposition on utilizing state funds or increasing taxes to expand teacher pay. However, by replacing the current single-salary schedule with a pay for performance model, teachers can be compensated based entirely on performance (Goldhaber, 129).

Problem Definition

Today, the average teacher pay is like that of a toll-taker or a bartender. In fact, teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education. Likewise, teachers’ salaries have witnessed a steady decline for over 3 decades, with an average starting salary of $39,000, and an average ending salary of $67,000 (after more than 25 years in teaching). Because of such low-pay, 20% of teachers in urban districts quit every year, and 46% of teachers nation-wide quit before their fifth year. This costs the United States nearly $7.34 billion annually in turnover costs. Current policies do not ensure quality teachers are recruited and retained, thus finding a solution to this problem is particularly important given the rate of expected retirees and the large number of new teachers who must be hired over the next decade (Hanusheck, 269).

Furthermore, the rates of teacher pay have been correlated to student performance. In a Pew Center research study conducted in 2014, looking at 6,000 pupils, 300 teachers, and 40 schools, researchers measured the quality of each teacher from where they were on the pay scale and whether they had been entitled to performance-related pay – they then compared this with students’ age, gender, postcodes, and academic records. Researchers found that a quarter of teachers in their sample were “poor” and that pupils achieved “significantly lower grades” when taught by them. Furthermore, the study showed that “a pupil taking eight GCSEs and taught by eight good teachers will score four to five more GCSE points than the same pupil in the same school taught by eight poor teachers”. From this, we see just how much teacher pay affects quality of education and student performance (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 1).


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