Charter Schools Get More Pay, The Best Teachers Get A Lot More Pay

Dallas – Despite a nationwide teacher shortage in traditional public schools, one Arizona charter school recently received applications from 200 qualified candidates for fewer than 10 teaching jobs. Arizona has little difficulty staffing its 271 charter schools, the most in the nation, even though teachers have no tenure and risk dismissal if they fail to contribute to student achievement as judged by the schools.

The reason? According to a new report being distributed by a joint project between the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) and the Children's Educational Opportunity of America Foundation (CEO America), teachers are willing to trade less job security for more teaching flexibility, less paperwork – and higher pay. "Teachers want the power and flexibility needed to teach to the special needs of their students," said Mary Gifford, a co-author who is Vice President of the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools. "Charter school teachers get paid more, but they also produce more," she said.

  • Newly hired charter school teachers in Arizona earn an average of 6% more than newly hired teachers in traditional public schools.
  • Salaries for newly hired teachers in charter schools can vary by $21,000, — from highest to lowest – depending on such criteria as subject matter expertise, experience and education.
  • By contrast, salaries for newly hired teachers in traditional public schools vary over a range of only about $8,000 and depend entirely on number of years on the job and the number of college credits beyond a bachelor's degree.

Charter schools are public schools that operate with more autonomy and less regulation than traditional public schools. Teachers don't have to hold teaching certificates, and only about 60% of charter school teachers in Arizona do. Charter school teachers are reviewed every year and their jobs are not guaranteed from year to year unless they perform well, as measured by student learning advancement.

  • In 16% of the charter schools, a teacher gets a bonus only if students achieve at a certain level or gain a certain percent in test scores.
  • In 58% of the schools, contract renewals are subject to the same kind of performance-incentives.
  • In about 10% of the schools, contract renewals are based on student attendance and parent satisfaction.