In this study by the Urban Institute, punks freshly graduated from college and paid about $30,000 per year were found to be more effective as schoolteachers than experienced union members who draw $80,000 of taxpayer blood for their 9 months of work each year.
Can it be that experience is worthless? I have taught classes from a pre-existing syllabus using a proven textbook. The very first time that I did the class, I worked a bit harder than I would have in subsequent classes, but probably managed to be 85 percent as effective as I could possibly have been. I have taught classes where I was one of the textbook authors and a designer of the syllabus. In this case, experience teaching was hugely valuable and resulted in massive changes to the syllabus, course structure, and textbook (fortunately online in HTML format and thus easily changed).
If public school teachers don’t write or choose their textbooks, it might not make any sense to pay experienced teachers more than beginners. http://www.cpsd.us/Web/HR/2008CTA_UnitA_Salary.pdf shows the salaries for the Cambridge Public Schools, some of the least effective in Massachusetts as measured by student achievement tests. A 22-year-old with a bachelor’s earns $41,000 for 9 months. A teacher with 11 years in the system would earn $69,000. That 11-year veteran who picked up online master’s and Ph.D. degrees in education would earn $81,500 (presumably there is no evidence to support the theory that a degree from University of Phoenix makes someone a better teacher).
If we wanted to spend the same amount of money every year, maybe it would be smarter simply to pay all teachers the same salary, e.g., $60,000 for 9 months of work. We would thereby attract a more able class of young college graduates and if after 7 years they got sick of the job they wouldn’t be tempted to stay because their salary was due to go up so dramatically.