Tuesday | November 18, 2008

This seminar, "Teacher Pay and Staffing Policies: What Works; What Doesn’t," comes at a time of both great difficulty and great opportunity for the public schools.

The nation faces the most serious economic crisis in generations, with state budgets and local property taxes – the major sources of education revenue – subject to devastating cuts, at least in the short run.  School staffs are overburdened with testing agendas and increasingly frustrated by the obstacles to meeting the individual needs of poorly performing students. At the same time, the country has just elected a new President who both understands the perverse aspects of current federal education policy and the importance of a strong education system to long-term economic recovery.

We are also aware that the education policy world is awash with many good, proven ideas and programs to improve schools, but also many that are suspect and lack real research backing or practical defense. In designing this meeting, the Shanker Institute has tried to ensure that potential collaborations among you – the key architects of any district’s route to improvement – are informed by sound research and have the greatest possible chance of success.



Toni Cortese, Secretary Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers

The Context for the Improvement of Teaching: A Revisit

Part I: Standards, Accountability, and the Achievement Gap: Lessons From History

Douglas Harris, Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • It has been over 40 years since the federal  government’s first foray into K-12 education. Since then, a variety of policies—from the first Title 1 to “A Nation at Risk” to Goals 2000 to NCLB—have been adopted in the name of helping disadvantaged children, boosting student performance, and narrowing the achievement gap. With the benefit of hindsight, which approaches to federal policy seem  most promising? What does this suggest for the improvement of teaching and learning?


Barbara Byrd Bennett, Executive in Residence, Cleveland State University

Milt Goldberg, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Education Commission of the States; Former Executive Director, National Commission on Excellence in Education &  Principal Author, A Nation at Risk

Part II: Creating A Positive School Culture: Linking School and Community Supports

David Osher, Managing Director, American Institutes of Research

Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers

  • Research and experience tell us that teaching and learning are almost impossible in an environment of disorder, disrespect, and fear. But many schools find it impossible to achieve a safe and orderly learning environment without help from the entire community. What do we know about the most effective ways of marshalling and deploying resources from all segments of the community—including educators, families, health and social service organizations, law enforcement agencies, businesses, and faith-based organizations—for the benefit of children?

Research on the Use of Incentive Pay for Improving Individual and System Performance

Mark D. Cannon, Associate Professor, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations, Peabody College,VanderbiltUniversity

  • Across the country, plans are being made to encourage excellent teaching by linking teachers’ pay to their performance or to the  performance of their schools or students. Yet not much is known about the relationship between compensation and the recruitment, retention, deployment, or performance of teachers. What can we learn from research on effective compensation strategies in the private sector? And what can research and experience tell us about the factors that make the implementation of some pay plans more or less successful?


Susan Moore Johnson, Carl H. Pforzheimer, Jr. Professor of Teaching and Learning, Harvard University

Adam Urbanski, President, Rochester Teachers Association

Improving Teaching Quality in Hard to Staff Schools

Helen Ladd, Edgar T. Thompson Distinguished Professor of Public Policy Studies and Professor of Economics, DukeUniversity

  • Hard-to-staff and low-performing schools have difficulty attracting and retaining qualified teachers. What accounts for the inequitable distribution of teaching staff among schools? What factors contribute to the high proportion of inexperienced and inadequately prepared teachers in such schools? And what does the research suggest about the various proposals of how to improve the teaching force: Pay and other  incentives? Changes in seniority, transfer, and tenure rules? Improve teacher preparation requirements? Relax teacher preparation requirements? Give principals more authority? Give teachers more authority? Improve the school climate? Change student demographics?


Laura K. Rico, President, ABC Federation of Teachers

Clifford Janey, State District Superintendent, Newark Public Schools

Where Do We Go From Here?

Discussion Leader: Eugenia Kemble, Executive Director, Albert Shanker Institute