Monthly Archives: September 2013

Teacher Compensation Handbook

In 2007, we developed a teacher compensation handbook for state and local policymakers that identified the steps needed to redesign teacher salary schedules, from those today based on years if experience and education units to one based on effectiveness teacher expertise.

Since that time, states and districts have developed new teacher evaluation systems that produce effectiveness metrics that can be used to operate the new types of salary schedules discussed in the handbook.  We also are in the process of updating that handbook to reflect this phenomenon as well as additional knowledge acquired over the last five years with state and local experimentation with new salary elements.

With that said, the handbook still serves as a good starting point for places considering how to redesign teacher salary schedules.

How to Boost Student Learning

Odden’s 2009 book, Ten Strategies for Doubling Student Performance, Corwin Press, provides another articulation of how such resources can be transformed into school improvement strategies that boost student learning and close achievement gaps.

            Our many studies of individual schools in states across the country provide additional examples.  The following are good exemplars:

            Abbottsford Elementary School (Wisconsin)

            Colchester High School (Vermont)

            Monroe Elementary School (Wisconsin)

            Montgomery Elementary School (Vermont)

            White River Elementary School (Vermont)

For additional cases, see Chapter 1 of Allan Odden and Sarah Archibald, Doubling Student Performance …. and finding the resources to do it, Corwin Press (2009).

Examining Property Value as an Indicator of Household Income

An issue re-emerging in the school finance context is whether property value per se is the best indicator of local school district, and its households, ability to pay.

The concern is two fold.

  • The first is the high property tax burden placed on low income households who live in high property wealth per pupil districts, such as second home or resort communities.
  • The second is whether all things being equal (including the access to raise property taxes via guaranteed tax base programs), household income still gives higher income districts an advantage in raising local funds for schools (which research finds it does).

The policy resolutions include both adding an income factor to the property wealth per pupil measure by multiplying property wealth by the ratio of the district’s average income measure to that of the state, as well as expanding state “circuit breaker” programs of property tax relief that limit property taxes as a percent of household income (by providing income tax credits or rebates when property taxes exceed a set percentage).

Early in his career, Odden identified this as an important school finance issue , it is the subject of a policy option paper our firm wrote for our 2013 Maine project, and it is the subject of a policy brief just issued by the Education Commission of the States, which references both Odden’s earlier work and our Maine policy paper.

Resources for Strategic Budgeting

We discuss “strategic budgeting” more in two books:

In addition, our 2011 and 2012 articles in professional publications further discuss these issues:

Traditional Use of Education Dollars

An earlier version of the findings about the use of the education dollar can be found in our 1995 Phi  Delta Kappan article that concluded that the traditional way education dollars are spent produce neither fiscal smoking guns nor fiscal academy awards .  This article drew on several years of study when the principals in our firm directed a national school finance center.  The 1995 annual yearbook of the Association for Finance and Policy summarized what we and others discovered about how education dollars are traditionally used.