Teacher pay is a big conversation across the country these days. Educators in West Virginia started striking in February and teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky began picketing last month for higher wages.
The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its “Strategic Teacher Compensation Databurst” this week to give a snapshot of the 50 states’ teacher compensation policies.
The NCTQ found that Indiana is one of only nine states that require school districts to consider performance in teacher pay.
This is one of the qualities that prompted NCTQ to encourage other Midwest states to look this way when considering strategic pay policies.
“Indiana requires local salary scales to be based on a combination of factors, including teacher evaluation, education/experience, academic needs of students, and leadership,” the NCTQ snapshot report said. “The state prohibits any teacher beyond their second year of teaching who earns a rating of ineffective or improvement necessary from being eligible for a pay raise.”
The New Castle Education Association – which represents the largest number of teachers from one school district in Henry County – did not return a request for comment on the NCTQ report.
However, the New Castle Community School Corporation keeps a copy of the most current Teacher Master Contract available on its website, www.nccsc.k12.in.us.
According to the New Castle Schools Compensation Model, city teachers can start off earning $34,539 a year with a Bachelor’s degree, capping out at $63,128 per year if they have a Masters with at least 30 additional credit hours.
New Castle teachers can also earn extra-curricular pay for filling roles like academic coach or department head teacher.
The Indiana Department of Education also awards performance-based grants around the state each year for schools to mete out to their teachers.
State lawmakers defer to local school boards in Indiana when it comes to providing additional pay for teachers in high-need schools or subject areas.
The National Council on Teacher Quality suggested that states follow Indiana’s example to provide districts with the flexibility to set pay structures and scales, while preserving the right to establish an adequate minimum salary.
There should also be parameters in place about how school districts take teacher effectiveness, high-need schools and shortage subject areas, and relevant, prior, non-teaching work experience into account when coming up with pay schedules.
Indiana also requires that its school districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off when a reduction in force (RIF) is necessary.
Indiana does not require teachers to have an “effective” or “highly effective” rating in order to advance their licenses.
Instead, the state requires teachers to complete either a professional growth plan or a beginning teacher residency program to advance from a two-year initial practitioner license to a practitioner license.
Hoosier teachers also have to renew their licenses every five years by completing six semester hours at an accredited institution of higher learning, or by completing a Professional Growth Plan, including up to 90 hours of professional development.
The NTCQ would like to see Indiana require evidence of effectiveness as a part of the teacher licensing policy.
“Indiana should require evidence of teacher effectiveness to be a factor in determining whether teachers may renew or advance to a higher-level license,” the study recommended, adding that Indiana should “discontinue license requirements with no direct connection to classroom effectiveness.”
The council also suggested that Indiana remove its mandate that teachers obtain a master’s degree in order to advance their license.
“Research is clear that master’s degrees generally do not have any significant correlation with classroom performance. Rather, advancement should be based on evidence of teacher effectiveness,” the Strategic Teacher Compensation Databurst said.
According to the report, Indiana policymakers told the NTCQ that incorporating teacher effectiveness ratings as a factor for license renewal was included in a draft of its current licensure rules, but after much public discussion and vocal opposition from a variety of stakeholders, it was removed from the final draft.
The NTCQ report found that Indiana policies need improvement when it comes to teachers have “portable, flexible and fair” pension systems.
Part of the NCCSC teacher contract allows for teachers to contribute to a 403(b) retirement plan. The school system also contributes to each teachers voluntary employees’ beneficiary association (VEBA) healthcare expenses/retirement account.
According to the master contract, the VEBA accounts are 100 percent vested at all times to each New Castle teacher.