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ERIC Number: ED537336
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun-22
Pages: 25
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 52
The Challenge of Innovation: The Case of the Minneapolis Professional Pay Plan? EPI Briefing Paper #267
Harris, Debbi
Economic Policy Institute
What is the "best" way to pay teachers? Should teachers be paid based only on their experience and education, or does this merely reward mediocrity? Would it be better to base teachers' pay on their performance in the classroom or their students' learning, or would this undermine cooperation among colleagues and encourage an unhealthy level of teaching to the test? There are no easy answers to these questions. This report reviews the history of teacher compensation plans and begins to shed light on the effects of compensation systems on teacher behavior through a study of middle-school teachers' responses to an alternative compensation policy, the Minneapolis Professional Pay Plan (Professional Pay). This study was conducted in Minneapolis from 2003 to 2005 using both qualitative and quantitative methods, and inductive and deductive inferential processes. Interviews with middle-school teachers, school administrators, and district personnel and a survey of middle-school teachers are the main data sources. Several obstacles to the policy's success emerged from the data including teachers' limited understanding of the policy, their unwillingness to surrender their professional autonomy in order to earn financial rewards, and their limited interest in financial incentives. Perhaps the most important and least recognized obstacle was the district's inability to credibly commit to Professional Pay. The inability of school districts to credibly commit has been largely ignored in the research literature but may be a significant factor in the failure of many policies to positively affect practice. While this study only looks at the Minneapolis case, it has implications for education policy more generally. The broader question is this: Can a public school district credibly commit to policies that, in order to be effective, require a long-term financial and political commitment? The answer to this question may very well be a resounding, "No." (Contains 9 tables and 4 endnotes.) [This paper was written with Sarah Butler Jessen.]
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Economic Policy Institute
Identifiers - Location: Minnesota