Policy Brief

'Career Ladder' at Risk in Arizona

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Arizona’s much-heralded teacher “career ladder”—one of the longest-standing differentiated-pay programs in the nation—is in jeopardy after a state court ruling that declared it unconstitutional because not all the state’s districts can participate.

The program allows each participating district to place teachers in different compensation levels, based on their involvement in professional development, assumption of additional roles and responsibilities, and monitoring of students’ attainment of district-set targets.

It began in 1985, during a period of widespread state experimentation with differentiated pay.

Many such efforts from the 1980s programs later folded after running into implementation problems, including opposition by teachers’ unions, which objected to vague criteria for identifying teachers for bonuses.

The Arizona program, ironically, could be a victim of its own success. Currently, 28 out of the state’s more than 200 districts take part, but state lawmakers haven’t provided expansion funding since the 1994 fiscal year.

The 38,000-student Gilbert school system, a suburban district outside Phoenix, sued the state because it was not permitted to offer a career ladder. In a Feb. 12 ruling, Superior Court Judge Dean Fink agreed and ruled the program invalid under the state’s constitution.

State schools chief Tom Horne said he expects to appeal the decision.

For now, the program remains in effect while the state legislature debates whether to increase funding or allow school boards to increase property taxes to pay for it.

But if an appeal isn’t successful and such funding doesn’t come through, the ruling could affect teachers’ salaries in participating districts. Some teachers earn thousands of dollars more through the program than they would under salary schedules.

The career ladder is also one component of the state’s bid for federal Race to the Top funding.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Vol. 29, Issue 23, Page 15

Published in Print: March 3, 2010, as 'Career Ladder' At Risk in Arizona
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Vocabulary Development for Striving Readers

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >