So, Tennessee’s Achievement School District recently unveiled a new pay scale for its teachers. After 6 years in ASD, a teacher can earn $62,000 — with bonuses, possibly more.
As a point of reference, the ASD takes schools in the bottom 5% of the state in terms of student performance — persistently low-performing schools — and the state either runs them as one school district, with authority to hire/fire staff OR turns the schools over to Charter operators. The thought is that the kids in these schools deserve drastic measures to turn them around.
So, ASD’s Talent Officer has decided that revamping pay along these lines will help attract and keep high-performing teachers.
Interestingly, Metro Nashville this year adopted a “compressed” pay scale – a plan worked out with Superintendent Dr. Jesse Register and the Metro Nashville Education Association – that raised starting teacher pay to $40,000 and allowed teachers to reach $65,000 by year 15.
The plan worked. MNPS saw the largest number of applicants ever for new jobs. Ostensibly, many of those applicants were experienced teachers in neighboring districts who were attracted by the significant raises the Metro pay scale would offer them.
The point is this: ASD theorizes they can attract and keep strong teachers by paying them more. We can debate about the performance pay elements, but all teachers essentially get paid more at ASD. Metro Nashville has empirical evidence that higher pay attracts a greater pool of applicants. It seems likely that this new pay scale will also help keep those teachers in Metro.
Many teachers (most?) in Tennessee will retire without ever seeing a salary of $60,000 a year.
But if investing in teachers through better, more strategic pay schemes is a way to attract and keep great teachers — teachers who have a solid impact on our students, isn’t that what our kids deserve?
Can all of Tennessee be an Achievement School District? A state willing to invest in teachers in terms of pay to get and keep them. But also in terms of meaningful mentoring and ongoing support. Imagine if Tennessee became the “place to be” for aspiring teachers because our climate was so welcoming to them.