New Lessons for Our Classrooms

Improving the education of African American Students Will Require A Stronger Teacher Workforce. Here's What it Will Take?

On the other hand, 75% of parents of public school students say teachers’ salaries should be somewhat or very closely tied to their own students’ academic achievement, according to the Gallup/Phi Delta Kappa poll. When calculating a teacher’s salary, parents agree that multiple factors should be considered, including the principal’s evaluation, advanced degrees, and experience.

Getting Paid
While Perry argues that the average teacher is overpaid, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that teachers in the U.S. generally spend more time teaching but without an equivalent advantage in pay compared with other developed countries whose students are outperforming American students. A brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education states that half of all teachers who enter the field leave within five years, and the best and brightest are often the first to leave, and not necessarily because of poor compensation.

More teachers say it is more important to have supportive leadership, time to collaborate, and quality curriculum, according to the Gates Foundation’s survey.

If the ability of schools to hire and retain high-quality teachers has the potential to influence student academic outcomes and significantly reduce student dropout rates as studies have shown, then efforts should be concentrated on not just developing high-quality teachers but on retaining them as well. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan agrees, saying that raising the bar for prospective students to enter schools of education and increasing starting salaries to $60,000 a year, topping out at around $150,000, will incentivize “top graduates to flock to a profession that demands high standards and credentials.”

Implementing merit pay is one solution that is often touted by many education reform advocates including President Barack Obama, but research is inconclusive about whether it actually works. One Harvard study, conducted by economist Roland Fryer, found that it didn’t make a difference in student achievement in New York schools.

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