Teaching Profession

Poll Finds Support for Changes in Teacher Pay

By Bess Keller — April 12, 2005 2 min read

More than seven out of 10 Americans favor at least modest changes to the traditional way teachers are paid, although six out of 10 would endorse higher teacher salaries even without such changes, according to poll results released last week.

See Also

View the accompanying item,

Chart: Teacher Compensation

The Teaching Commission, a bipartisan group based in New York City that pushes for improved teaching in the nation’s public schools, commissioned the surveys, which found support for higher pay even if that meant tax increases.

The survey work was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates and Harris Interactive. The firms polled 934 members of the general public, including an oversample of public school parents, and 553 teachers over Nov. 19-23, 2004. The margin of error for the polls was 3.5 percentage points for the public and 4.3 percentage points for teachers.

The commission, led by Louis V. Gerstner Jr., a former chairman and chief executive officer of IBM, favors improving preparation and support of teachers, giving principals control over teacher hiring and firing, and linking salaries to teaching excellence. For decades, teachers’ pay has been based mainly on their years of service and postgraduate education credits.

In the surveys, more than 75 percent of both the general public and teachers supported rewarding teachers for taking on assignments in high-poverty schools.

“Americans’ Commitment to Quality Teaching in Public Schools,” and a press release on the salary survey are available from the Teaching Commission.

But only half the teachers backed paying extra money to teachers who specialized in fields where there are shortages, such as mathematics and special education, while almost three-quarters of the general public favored such a change.

More than two-thirds of the members of the general public who were surveyed endorsed the idea of raising salaries for gains in student achievement “as measured by tests and other indicators.” Teachers mostly disliked the idea, with just one in three backing it.

“Teachers are clearly not monolithic in their views,” Mr. Gerstner said at a press event here last week.

Nonetheless, he acknowledged, “the majority of teachers still prefer the current system.”

Support for Smaller Classes

The polls found that teachers and the general public agreed that no strategy for improving education is more effective than reducing class size, although about two-thirds of the teachers in the poll favored smaller classes over almost every other approach, compared with only about a third of the general public.

Almost a third of the members of the public who were surveyed, and just under 20 percent of the teachers, favored improving teacher quality as one of the two top strategies for school improvement.

Substantial proportions of teachers and larger proportions of the general public supported changes in how teachers are admitted to the profession. For instance, 85 percent of the public and 70 percent of the teachers who were polled favored requiring teachers to pass a subject-matter test.

About half the teachers in the survey said they supported “more rigorous” teacher-preparation programs, and two-thirds said their own college coursework had not prepared them well for the classroom.

Some teacher advocates, including the 2.7 million-member National Education Association, say there are good reasons that teachers don’t want to switch to performance pay. “If you look at the history of merit pay and performance pay, it’s a political proposal and not an educational proposal,” said Michael Pons, an NEA spokesman. “People who work in education never say this is the answer to a need.”

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion Only 15 Students Showed Up for Online Class. Then, Teachers Got Creative
When COVID-19 closed school buildings, teachers worked to exhaustion but also felt proud.
Lora Bartlett
1 min read
A teacher shares her pandemic experience.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and PeopleImages/iStock
Teaching Profession Opinion Teachers Were Told to 'Give Grace' as the Pandemic Started. They Did That and Much More
Districts offered little guidance otherwise, writes researcher Lora Bartlett.
Lora Bartlett
4 min read
Illustration of teachers working
F. Sheehan/Getty
Teaching Profession Educators of Color: Schools Need to Better Support Racial Justice Efforts
A new survey of educators of color finds that few received any training for addressing racism and violence with their students.
5 min read
Image of a teacher and students.
nadia_bormotova/iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession Opinion I've Studied Teachers for 20 Years. The Pandemic Was Their Ultimate Challenge
Researcher Lora Bartlett wondered what was happening behind the scenes as teachers' cheerful voices radiated from her daughters' computers.
Lora Bartlett
4 min read
Opinion Bartlett1 KNOW THYSELF LINCOLN
Lincoln Agnew for Education Week