The 1989 Education Summit established the National Education Goals that spurred states to set standards and assess educational outcomes (Patton and Thompson, 1999). A decade into standards-based reform, the 1999 Education Summit identified two important policy areas that have emerged to carry out these goals: teacher quality and accountability (National Education Summit, 1999).
Research supports the important relationship between teacher quality and student achievement (Darling-Hammond and Ball, 1998; Ferguson and Ladd, 1996; Sanders and Horn, 1994; Wright, Horn, and Sanders, 1997). Concerns about teacher quality led the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future to recommend that states and districts consider better ways of linking pay to the development of teacher knowledge and skills (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1996). Exploring better ways of using pay to enhance teacher quality is also supported, to varying degrees, by teacher unions and associations.
Knowledge- and skills-based pay systems are emerging as a potentially promising way of leveraging the investment in teacher pay to improve teacher quality and to provide clearer signals to teachers about how they should focus their professional energies. This CPRE Policy Brief reports on our experiences in working with policymakers and studying knowledge- and skills-based pay systems. We provide guidance on important design issues for these systems, and recommend ways state and district policymakers can strengthen the capacity for and pursue knowledge- and skills-based pay.