A new union contract in Mt. Clemens ties satisfactory teacher evaluations to pay raises. To be sure, this represents a move toward breaking from the assembly line mentality of the single salary schedule in favor of a compensation model based in part on performance. But this baby step is probably too small to have any impact on student achievement.

Partly that's because nearly all teachers get satisfactory evaluations. A 2009 study of 15,000 teachers nationwide found that less than 1 percent receive evaluations that are unsatisfactory. Mt. Clemens plans to employ a new evaluation system, but unless this radically breaks from past trends, not many teachers are likely to miss out on a pay raise.

Further, it doesn't appear as if this new contract changes the rest of the functions of the single salary schedule at all (at least not from the details provided by the Macomb Daily). If true, teacher pay will still largely mirror the compensation structures used for assembly line workers: They will still get automatic "step" increases just from completing another year on the job, and also get automatic raises for accumulating a certain number of college credits or a graduate degree.

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Research shows that teacher longevity does have an impact on student performance, but this relationship tends to plateau after the first several years. In other words, an experienced teacher generally outperforms a novice, but after four or five years the performance gap stops growing. Research has also repeatedly shown that graduate degrees have no statistically significant impact on student achievement.



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Jim Riley got his own fiscal house in order so he could retire. Now he wonders why his city government can’t do the same for their employees, and taxpayers who could end with huge bills from the unfunded retirement liabilities.

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