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How Teacher Merit Pay Affects an Early Childhood Teacher Salary

13 October 2014

How Teacher Merit Pay Affects an Early Childhood Teacher Salary
It’s no secret that teachers of most kinds don’t make much money. An early childhood teacher salary is generally even lower. Depending on the age of children and role of the teacher, salaries do vary quite drastically, but they’re never all that high.

Generally speaking, a kindergarten teacher makes about $45,000 per year, while a preschool early childhood teacher salary is much lower, coming in at only $22,000, according to Indeed Salaries. Substitutes for each category make even less, at $30,000 for a kindergarten sub and $21,000 for a preschool one. Assistant teachers, for all early childhood jobs, make the least, usually somewhere around $20,000, no matter what age they’re teaching.

Because an early childhood teacher salary is so low, every once in a while, the idea of teacher merit pay gets a lot of hype. New York City teachers were offered at extra $3,000 if their entire school scored better on tests. Scores either stayed the same or, in some cases, actually went down. Similar results were seen when Chicago early ed teachers were offered the same incentive. Nashville schools offered teachers a similar bonus, between $5,000 and $15,000. Results remained the same.

When it was determined that merit-based pay wasn’t working, Mathmatica researchers suggested a new system: top teachers from other districts move to low-income public schools to work with children with low test scores. If a teacher decided to stay in her new, difficult position, no matter how the students improved (or didn’t), he or she would add an extra $20,000 to their early childhood teacher salary. Elementary students with the transplant teachers saw a 4 to 10-percential-point-achievement raise. Ninety percent of the teachers stayed to collect their bonus funding and, even after the bonuses were over, 60 percent stayed put.

It shows that, while merit pay isn’t always helpful for early ed teachers, a change of environment, combined with a strong incentive, often can be.



-Indeed Salaries

-“What Happens When Great Teachers Get $20,000 to Work in Low-Income Schools?” Slate

-“New York City’s School-Wide Bonus Program” National Center on Performance Incentives

-“Teacher performance pay alone does not raise student test scores” Vanderbilt News

-Photo courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net

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