5 Steps to Design Highly Paid Teacher Career Paths

by | October 29, 2014

To help all students reach their potential, district leaders must ensure that every student has consistent access to excellent teaching. Opportunity Culture compensation and career path structures help make that possible, and the new guide out today from Public Impact shows how.

Teacher Pay and Career Paths in an Opportunity Culture: A Practical Policy Guide shows how districts can design teacher career paths that will keep excellent teachers in the classroom and extend their reach to more students, for more pay, within budget. When districts design these paths, they create opportunities:

  • for excellent teachers to reach more students directly and by leading teaching teams,
  • for solid teachers to contribute to excellence immediately, and
  • for all teachers to receive the support and development they deserve.

The full guide walks a district through the organizing steps and details of designing Opportunity Culture pay and career paths that fit its needs and values. It includes an overview of key Opportunity Culture concepts, graphics and explanations detailing new school models and roles, and assistance for evaluating the impact of different compensation design choices. The steps guide districts to ensuring financial sustainability and designing a complete career lattice.

The summary provides a brief overview and graphics that show how pay and career paths work at a glance.

Typical “career advancement” possibilities push teachers out of the classroom into administration or into roles that rarely offer real authority, accountability for student outcomes, or permanent and substantial pay supplements. In contrast, this guide shows the possibilities when districts and schools design career paths and compensation structures to support an Opportunity Culture, in which all teachers have opportunities that build their professional competence and maximize their positive impact on student learning.

Using the guide, districts can follow the lead of those early implementers, which aim to provide excellent instruction for all students and excellent career opportunities for all teachers by:

  • reaching at least 80 percent of students with truly excellent teachers who are formally accountable for their learning,
  • providing pay supplements of 10 to 50 percent to highly effective teachers from the start,
  • funding those pay supplements within regular budgets,
  • adding time for teacher planning and collaboration, and
  • adapting evaluation and accountability systems to reflect the responsibilities of new roles.

District leaders who create these new career paths and pay structures create the key elements of the Opportunity Culture virtuous cycle: Sustainably higher pay and advancement opportunities attract more great candidates to the teaching profession, help to retain top performers, and enable schools to be more selective in hiring.

Teacher Pay and Career Paths in an Opportunity Culture: A Practical Policy Guide was written by Emily Ayscue Hassel, Christen Holly, and Gillian Locke.

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