In its recent newsletter, the National Staff Development Council (NSDC) the Springfield (Mass.) school district which has implemented a new teacher compensation system that rewards teachers for assuming leadership roles without their having to leave the classroom.

When our TeacherSolutions looked at the potential and challenges of performance-based teacher compensation systems, we determined that teachers should be paid based on whether and how well we do those things that actually help students and advance the teaching profession, rather than on how many years we work or how many degrees we’ve earned (or at least not just on those things).

One aspect of the Springfield system emphasized by SEA President Tim Collins is that these teacher leaders and instructional specialists are serving in “non-evaluative roles” in relation to their peers. Collins notes, “People will not share their weaknesses (with a teacher leader or instructional specialist) unless they are confident it is not going to hurt them.”

<>Some of us may disagree on whether teacher leaders should or should not help evaluate their peers. There are school districts,for example, where teachers have evaluated and made personnel decisions about the work of peers since 1981. Yet, consistently we find that the one of the main reasons teachers resist the idea of performance pay is their lack of confidence in the idiosyncratic, feeble [I’m being nice] teacher evaluation processes in most places.

Developing effective performance-based compensation systems will almost certainly look different in different places. But surely, the potential benefits of bringing the teaching profession out of the 19th century industrial model and positioning it for 21stCentury possibilities is worth the patient efforts such change will require.

Cross-posted at Future of Teaching.

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