Report from The Compensation Technical Working Group: Teacher compensation in Washington

9 Jul

In Is it true that the dumbest become teachers? Moi wrote:

Dave Eggers and NÍnive Clements Calegari have a provocative article in the New York Times, The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries

At the moment, the average teacher’s pay is on par with that of a toll taker or bartender. Teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education. In real terms, teachers’ salaries have declined for 30 years. The average starting salary is $39,000; the average ending salary — after 25 years in the profession — is $67,000. This prices teachers out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas, and makes raising a family on one salary near impossible…

More researchers are looking at teacher salaries as an element of attracting and retaining quality teachers.

The Compensation Technical Working Group began researching teacher compensation in Washington:

Compensation Technical Work Group

Beginning in July 2011, as outlined in RCW 28A.400.201, the Compensation Working Group* began the process of developing an enhanced, collaboratively designed salary allocation model.

The new salary allocation model should align educator development and certification with compensation. It must also:

  • Attract and retain the highest quality educators
  • Reduce the number of tiers within the existing salary allocation model
  • Account for regions of the state where it may be difficult to recruit and retain teachers
  • Determine the role and types of bonuses available
  • Provide a solution to accomplish salary equalization over a set number of years
  • Include cost estimates, including a recognition that staff on the existing salary schedule have an option to be grandfathered permanently to the existing salary schedule
  • Conduct a comparative labor market analysis of school employee salaries and other compensation
  • Provide a concurrent implementation schedule

On June 30, 2012, the working group submitted its report to the Legislature:

Compensation Technical Working Group Report (Full Report, 178 pages)

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The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession summarized the report as follows:

After a year of study and work, the State’s Compensation Technical Work Group has released their recommendations to revamp the way the State pays educators and other staff in K-12 education.

Some of the highlights of their recommendations include:

  • Increasing the starting salary of teachers and educational staff associates to $48,687, which is about $15,000 more.   
  • Aligning the salary allocation model to the career continuum for educators, which would recognize a teacher’s movement from a residency certificate to a professional certificate, etc.  
  • Investing in 10 professional development days.  
  • Allocating mentors and instructional coaches in the Basic Education Funding Formula    

CSTP gathered survey responses from over 400 NBCTs about their feelings towards the draft recommendations. Their responses were presented to their Work Group in June. Click the NBCT Survey Summary

Next stop for these recommendations? The Quality Education Council who is made up of legislators, agency heads and educators. These recommendations can not be implemented without legislative action. To read the Work Group report, click here.  

Teacher compensation is subject to a lot of political wrangling.

Peter Callaghan of the News Tribune has written an incisive analysis of the report in the article, Teacher pay report has a lot to shock, and to like:

Under a law adopted in 1981, all teacher pay for delivering basic education must come from the state and is not subject to bargaining. In amendments approved in 1983, teachers can bargain to tap levy dollars but only for extra duties.

That additional pay can be granted only through supplemental contracts defining the extra time and responsibilities to be delivered or for “implementing specific measurable innovative activities.” This has become known as TRI pay (Time, Responsibility and Incentive.”)

But the task force’s group of education “stakeholders” – superintendents, board members, principals, finance officers and teacher union representatives – admitted it doesn’t work that way.

… after reviewing collective bargaining agreements and sharing professional experiences with TRI contracts, the (working group) overwhelmingly concluded that TRI contracts are most often used to increase the salary allocations of staff performing basic education functions,” the final report states.

There are many reasons for this violation of law, but the working group lands on just one – the districts and their teachers had to do it to make up for shortcomings in allocations for basic teacher pay by the state Legislature.

Another reason for the gradual erosion of the rules is that unions bargained hard for it, school boards gave in and the state looked the other way. Blaming the Legislature alone means the working group members didn’t have to point fingers at one another.

The answer to why there are not more quality teachers is not simple.


Teachers unions are losing members               

Education Trust report: Retaining teachers in high-poverty areas                                     

Teachers running schools                           

Report: Measuring teacher effectiveness

Urban teacher residencies                 

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

2 Responses to “Report from The Compensation Technical Working Group: Teacher compensation in Washington”

  1. Doreen Hamilton July 10, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    It is absolutely true that TRI contracts were/are used to “increase compensation.” To get the compensation, teachers have to sit through the “training.” To sit through the training, teachers wrangle for the least odious (in their view) activities. To assure the least odious activities (but meet the minimum expectations set down by the district), teachers plan the activities, The principal, operating on the theory that teacher-run meetings = teacher buy-in, signs off on the most liberal interpretations of district expectations. So, in a 7 1/2 hour day of training, we start with a half hour of announcments and “honoring” activities. The next forty-five minutes feature an activity that demonstrates how difficult change can be. The principal compresses his presentation of a new district initiative into 45 minutes. “Self-care” comes next — 45 minutes of yoga and walking. Then back to business — teachers gather in groups to discuss the new initiative and write their ideas on large sheets of paper; Next they categorize the ideas and draw pictures (visual representations) to share with the whole group: total time 1 1/2 hours. Break for a 40- minute lunch. After lunch they read a 3-4 page article and discuss it: 45 minutes. Fifteen-minute bathroom break. They finish the afternoon with union-mandated time to apply the “new learning,”: i.e. write a lesson plan. A 20-minute debrief plusan evaluation slip closes out the day. Attendance is taken because teachers have been known to leave in the afternoon. A passive-aggressive tone pervades the day.The lesson plans are chucked and forgotten. Cynicism reigns. Back to business as usual in the classroom. i kid you not. This is what districts do with the taxpayers’ money. I have endured it as a teacher. I have observed it as an instructional coach. What a waste!

    • drwilda July 10, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      Thanks again for your comments. Unfortunately, education, like everything is so politicized, it is difficult to make improvements.


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