As Town Meeting and elections approach, it’s important to be sure that everyone understands what Teacher Salary Steps are and how they work.
It is common practice across the country to determine a teacher’s compensation based on a Salary Schedule. A Salary Schedule contains steps and lanes. Steps reflect a teacher’s classroom experience while lanes are based on a teacher’s academic achievements.
Teachers have, with the use of a stepped salary schedule, agreed to a school district’s assertion that a fully qualified teacher has both the background and actual experience required to obtain the full pay as outlined at the top of any salary schedule. In many cases, teachers are agreeing that it can take up to 12 years to reach the full pay rate for their position.
When hired by a district, a teacher is assigned a salary schedule “lane” based on their academic achievement, for example a bachelor’s degree, and a starting step based on their years of experience, say step 4.
Both the District and the teacher agree that, as long as the teacher maintains good employment status in the district, they will move up the step level as they complete each year of experience. Moving up steps each year is recognition of the teacher becoming more proficient in their abilities as they gain more and more classroom experience.
A first-year teacher just starting out has the academic background required but has limited classroom experience. As they complete each school year, their abilities become much more proficient. That proficiency is reflected in movement up the step scale.
Teachers and Districts have also agreed on the process, requirements, and timing of performance assessments and reviews throughout the year to assure that a teacher’s skills are indeed expanding along with their experience.
Teachers in New Hampshire must also complete an average of 25 hours each year of professional development to maintain their state certification.
All of these factors contribute to maintaining employment in the district and successfully completing an academic year of teaching.
To put it another way, a teacher entering a district knows that it will take them up to 12 years to reach the full rate of pay for their position. They agree to take the discounted rate of pay, to teach, attend professional development, maintain their certification, submit to performance assessments, and take on non-teaching duties in order to gain the experience required each year to move up a step on the schedule. Moving up a step each year is recognition of the mutual agreement the teacher made with the district and has nothing to do with cost of living increases.