AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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Differentiated Pay

"Differentiated pay plans that are locally negotiated rather than imposed allow teachers to be paid additional compensation for taking on extra responsibilities. That works to the benefit of both teachers and students."

—Randi Weingarten, AFT President

The American Federation of Teachers believes the decision to adopt a compensation system based on differentiated pay should be made by the local union leaders and district officials who know best what will work in their schools. Systems must be locally negotiated, voluntary, schoolwide, and must promote a collaborative work environment. Well-designed compensation systems based on differentiated pay for teachers must include the following elements:

  • Labor-management collaboration
  • Adequate base compensation for all teachers
  • Credible, agreed-upon standards of practice
  • Support for professional development
  • Incentives that are available to all teachers
  • Easily understood standards for rewards
  • Sufficient and stable funding
  • Necessary support systems, such as data and accounting systems

In addition, AFT locals have developed schoolwide differentiated pay based on a combination of academic indicators, including standardized test scores, students' classroom work, dropout rates and disciplinary incidents. Teachers reject being evaluated on a single test score. Additional compensation should also be given to teachers earning National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification; for those working in challenging schools that have teacher shortages; and for teachers who mentor, provide peer support and participate in other professional activities.

AFT Resources

Meeting the Challenge: Recruiting and Retaining Teachers in Hard-to-Staff Schools (June 2007)

Where We Stand: Teacher Quality (June 2003)

Rethinking Teacher Compensation (American Teacher, March 2004)