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Teacher pay should be linked to success of students, not based on seniority

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Release Date: September 9, 2013

VANCOUVER, BC—To improve education in Canada’s schools, teachers should increasingly be paid according to the academic success of their students instead of the number of years they have been teaching, recommends a new study published by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“The first priority of our school system is to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education that prepares them for the future. Effective teachers are indispensable to that mission,” said Rodney Clifton, emeritus professor at the University of Manitoba and author of Obtaining Better Teachers for Canadian Public Schools: A Review of the “Teacher Effectiveness” Research Literature.

“The way teachers are educated, certified, hired, and tenured in Canada should be changed to recognize and reward excellence, while those without the necessary passion and skills should be encouraged to leave the profession.”

The study, the second paper published by the Fraser Institute’s Barbara Mitchell Centre for Improvement in Education, reviews and summarizes a wide body of academic research on how teachers are accredited and compensated with a focus on improving educational outcomes for students. It includes suggested policy reforms that the research shows will provide incentives to teachers and administrators alike to improve the academic performance of their students.

The study notes that public school teachers’ salaries typically increase based on two variables: their years of teaching experience (i.e. seniority) and their level of post-secondary education.

“Teachers with more education and more experience are paid more than teachers with less education and less experience, even if they are doing the same job and even if the lower-paid teacher is more effective in the classroom,” Clifton said.

A number of studies have showed that teachers’ verbal communication skills and understanding of the curriculum have strong and positive effects on their students’ academic achievement. As a result, a number of U.S. states and a few Canadian provinces, such as Ontario, introduced screening examinations and interviews before aspiring teachers were admitted to faculties of education, and some states required aspiring teachers to pass additional certification examinations.

“Surprisingly, no Canadian province or territory requires teachers to pass rigorous admission examinations once they complete their post-secondary education, even though such testing would disqualify weak candidates from becoming teachers,” Clifton said.

Additionally, Clifton suggests that principals and vice-principals should be empowered to hire and promote effective teachers, and fire those who perform poorly, to create optimal school teams.



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