REL 2005 Policy Forum
Where Do We Go From Here? Lessons To Take Back to Our States

Richard Rothstein

Dr. Anthony Milanowski
Consortium for Policy Research
in Education (CPRE)
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Richard Rothstein

Jeffrey Buck
Denver Public Schools

Richard Rothstein

Dr. Lewis C. Solmon
Teacher Advancement
Program Foundation

Richard Rothstein

Judy Jeffrey
Iowa Department of Education

Participants from the five states in SEDL’s region met in small state groups to discuss teacher compensation issues in their state. Their discussions were guided by three questions.

  • What are the most recent teacher compensation policies or programs your state has considered or implemented? Are data collected specific to these teacher compensation policies or programs?
  • Are there specific limitations or challenges that impede efforts toward teacher compensation in your state?
  • After learning about different teacher compensation models at this Forum, what would you want to see your state do?  How would this get accomplished (i.e., collaboration across agencies, legislation, funding, public support, etc.)? 

After the small group discussions, all forum participants and the guest speakers gathered for a final session to discuss what lies ahead for the future of teacher compensation, particularly in relation to their state or local programs.

Guest Speaker Panel Presentation

Milanowski pointed out that he sees a growth in “combat pay” at the district level. He suggested we watch the Denver ProComp model for future district change in compensation, as well as state-level programs like New Mexico’s Three-Tiered Licensure System and Iowa’s Student Achievement and Teacher Quality Program. He believes we must set a concrete vision and get all the stakeholders to buy-in if programs are to work and that evaluations of programs are a necessity for the future.

Buck stressed the need for collaborative interaction between unions and districts for programs to work. Further, he believes connecting state, district, and community services, e.g., day care, are important for the growth and sustainability of systemic teacher compensation models.

Solmon noted that very few state-level pay plans exist and that it may be easier to implement district level programs. He believes that as more radical reforms get more strength, policymakers will be more interested within public schools, such as what is happening with vouchers.

Jeffrey commented that there must be state support and good organizational structures to do a state-level program. She believes the route to success is paying for knowledge and skills and that teachers need training for high-need. Jeffrey also stated that we must look at teaching protocols and their use to evaluate teachers. Specific to Iowa’s program, they learned from implementation that they must reconsider their Career II level and possibly do away with it entirely.

State Reports

Each state described their recent teacher compensation policies or programs, the challenges they face regarding these and future teacher compensation efforts, and where they think their state may head in the future around this issue.


  • $4,000 legislative incentive for schools with less than 1,000 pupils; greater than 70 percent free and reduced priced lunch
  • Developing the Board of Directors for the Arkansas Teacher Housing Development Foundation (the foundation is to provide affordable housing and housing incentives to attract high-performing teachers to high-priority school districts)
  • $35 million in teacher insurance program
  • Raise in teacher minimum salary with a guaranteed $450 step per year for experience

Arkansas listed power/control, turf, monetary, and legislative challenges. They also noted difficulties with collective bargaining groups. For the future, they described efforts to improve coordination between the state departments of education and higher education, explore options for performance pay, and lessen the disparity in salaries per district.


Louisiana is mired in rebuilding and finding immediate and long-term solutions to the recent natural disasters that created chaos in their education system. However, they noted that what will likely happen in regard to teacher compensation in the future would be at a district level. They are interested in bringing pay for teachers, across the board, up to the regional average and work toward lessening discrepancies in salary across and within districts.

New Mexico

  • Continue their state-level reform, i.e., the Three-Tiered Licensure System
  • Placed heavy emphasis on classroom teachers and now moving toward developing a system for education leadership, including salary and evaluation policies
  • Looking into including instructional support providers into the Three-Tiered Licensure System
  • Education is 45.6 percent of the state general fund budget

New Mexico discussed several challenges, such as a troubled teacher retirement fund and needing to maintain teacher momentum for the state compensation system. They see educating teachers about what has to be funded by law as important and finding funding outside of the state funding formula to meet the minimum salary. New Mexico mentioned that they plan to strive for increased collaboration between the state public education and higher education offices. Additionally, they will focus on the Level III teachers in their Three-Tiered Licensure System.


  • $3,000 across-the-board pay raise four years ago
  • Increasing the minimum salary schedule over the next 5 years to meet the regional average
  • 100 percent of teacher health insurance is paid by the state
  • Approximately $5,000-$7,000 state funds for National Board Certification and Education Leadership Program
  • Additional $1,000 for middle school math professional development

Oklahoma noted monetary challenges, but has a positive outlook for increases in funding. They listed several other priorities upon which the state department is focusing, including graduation standards and statewide testing. Oklahoma discussed using the information from this forum to consider: 1) improving teacher evaluation, particularly related to agency collaboration; 2) developing statewide standards and legislation for professional development; and 3) implementation of a compensation model on a small scale, either a district or school site.


  • Proposed performance-based incentives for teachers in small schools and those with greater than 75 percent free and reduced priced lunch
  • Considering a tuition exemption for teacher’s children and other longevity incentives to retain teachers
  • Currently have one school district with the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) and another district that has implemented teacher incentives

Texas discussed challenges with four teacher associations, limited funds, the teacher retirement system, and a divided legislature. They noted difficulty in putting forth any statewide program, especially since the state funds a small proportion of education dollars. Therefore, they believe it is more likely to see programs established or expanded at the local level. Texas discussed using the information from this forum to: 1) build collaboration among education stakeholders, 2) expand TAP into more schools, and 3) educate state and local entities about teacher compensation models.