Five years ago, The Equity Project (TEP) charter school in New York City made national headlines with promises to pay teachers an annual salary of $125,000. A new Mathematica report suggests the experiment worked.
TEP aims to address student achievement through a laser focus on teacher quality driven by a combination of high salaries and a bonus structure, a rigorous hiring process including live teaching auditions, regular embedded professional development, and high levels of accountability. The first four years of results are in. In 2013, TEP students, over 90 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, demonstrated 1.6 additional years of math learning and 0.4 additional years of English learning compared with matched peers. What’s more, by foregoing administrative positions and making other trade-offs, TEP is implementing this model at the same level of public funding available to every New York charter school.
TEP demonstrates–albeit at a small scale–that it’s possible for teachers to be highly compensated without increasing costs in a real public school finance system, and that it’s possible for a public school to provide the kind of organizational structure necessary to manage highly-compensated professionals effectively.