Date: 
Friday, February 5, 2010

Districts have options when it comes to teacher salary inequities

Seattle, WA - School districts can take steps to level out salary inequities caused by maldistributions of teachers, according to researchers at the University of Washington.

It is a well-known fact that within districts, higher-paid teachers with more experience congregate in the more affluent schools, while poorer schools have less-experienced, lower-paid teachers.

If, as has been proposed, the federal Title I program closes a loophole in its comparability provision, districts would have no choice but to address the problem.

According to Marguerite Roza and Sarah Yatsko at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, districts have four "salary reallocation" options that can erase the imbalance and work to close the spending gap, without reassigning the more experienced teachers.

In Beyond Teacher Reassignments: Better Ways Districts Can Remedy Salary Inequities Across Schools, Roza and Yatsko outline four options that districts could pursue to remedy school spending inequities created by uneven salaries:

  • use bonuses to balance salaries
  • vary class sizes to level spending
  • concentrate specialist and staff support in schools with lower-salaried teachers
  • equalize per-pupil dollar allocations

Say Roza and Yatsko, "District leaders pledge vigorously to close achievement gaps, and yet year after year (via salary inequities) they spend fewer state and local dollars on those very schools with the lowest-performing students."

Ultimately, addressing persistent salary inequities could better link district resources to the needs of students and, in particular, better serve those intended to benefit from Title I.

Published by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, Beyond Teacher Reassignments: Better Ways Districts Can Remedy Salary Inequities Across Schools is the seventh Rapid Response brief in the SCHOOLS IN CRISIS: MAKING ENDS MEET series, designed to bring relevant fiscal analyses to policymakers amidst the current economic crisis.