The Marietta City School Board of Education met last Tuesday and approved changing the way the district pays its teachers, from a traditional pay scale model to one based on student success.
It is the only school district in the state to implement this pay-scale model.
City’s average teacher salary: $55,307
The 619 teachers in the MCS district are now paid on a scale that factors in the number of years they have been teaching and level of education attained, said Thomas Algarin, a spokesman for the district.
In years past, as long as teachers received an annual “satisfactory” evaluation from their principals, they moved up a step in the pay scale, regardless of how their students performed that year, said Emily Lembeck, the superintendent of Marietta City Schools.
The average annual salary for a MCS teacher is $55,307, Algarin said.
It is almost impossible for teachers to make more money before their 20th year in the classroom, and Lembeck said she was frustrated that young, talented teachers were not rewarded for their success earlier in their careers.
One of the only ways teachers could make more money was to leave the classroom to become administrators, she said.
Overhaul of current system
With almost $200,000 of various Race to the Top grants, the school system worked with education researchers for more than a year to develop a pay model they hope will be perfect for the city’s school system, Lembeck said.
All of the research gathered showed advanced degrees do not impact student achievement in the classroom, Lembeck said.
The new pay model will reward teachers based on their success in the classroom.
If teachers choose to go back to school to earn more degrees, they must apply to get reimbursed by the district for their school fees, Lembeck said.
For example, if a teacher chooses to get an advanced education degree from Kennesaw State University, the district is willing to pay back up to $20,000 of tuition costs, spaced over four years.
Advanced degrees at KSU cost between $16,000 and $97,000, according to the university’s website.
The goal of the new pay system is to reward teachers sooner, and for their effectiveness in the classroom.
“This is designed to look at the generation of educators we want to attract,” Lembeck said.
Young, talented teachers will have the opportunity to make more money sooner in their careers, and will be encouraged to continue their personal educations.
What Cobb County pays
Cobb County schools pays teachers with a traditional model, factoring in years of experience and the number of advanced degrees teachers have earned.
Cobb School Board member David Morgan thinks MCS may be paving the way for a compensation model Cobb might someday adopt.
“I think that in the world of education, this is the last bastion of this factory-style compensation we have,” he said.
Morgan has been pushing the district to consider changing its pay system since he came on the board in 2009. He thinks paying teachers for their education level as well as for their students’ achievement could motivate new teachers to continue learning and remain in the school system.
“If you are really effective in your fourth year, why should you have to wait until year 24 until you earn your highest earning potential?” he asked.
The school district would have to be a charter system in order to change its pay scale, Morgan said, another change he would like Cobb Schools to consider in the coming years.
Marietta City Schools became a charter system in June 2008.
As of Jan. 1, 2014, new teachers hired into the Marietta City School system will be paid based on the new scale.
Lembeck said she hopes the new system will contribute to an increase in student success.
The district’s current teachers have been grandfathered into the new system, and are excited for the potential to encourage young talent, Lembeck said.
The MCS charter system includes 11 schools: seven K-5 elementary schools, one sixth-grade academy, one middle school, one high school, and one grades 3-5 elementary magnet school (Marietta Center for Advanced Academics).