Econ 101: School Gets Awesome News After Accepting ‘Supply and Demand’

This Adam Smith stuff really works.

A relatively small elementary school in the remote southeastern Four Corners region of Utah had a longstanding problem with the inability to retain effective and experienced teachers, so it implemented a pilot program a couple of years ago to provide incentives for experienced teachers with proven track records to sign on and stay at the school, offering a much higher salary than was usual.

According to the San Juan Record, the Montezuma Creek Elementary School’s grant program, known as the Quality Teaching Incentive Program, worked so effectively to turn the school around that the San Juan School District plans to extend it to the rest of the schools in the district.

Teacher turnover was a big issue within the district, and while about half of the teachers at the schools in the northern part of the district had 14 or more years of experience, the southern schools — including Montezuma — had less than 10 percent of staff with equivalent experience.

But a detailed report from Utah’s Deseret News revealed that the Q-TIP program worked beyond all expectations to turn around the Montezuma school by offering salaries of up to $80,000 annually to qualified and experienced teachers who could serve as “leads” for less experienced teachers in the various major subjects of study.

“If you have a very veteran member of the team, it’s very helpful when a new teacher has questions, when they need help and support, they can turn to someone,” explained district elementary supervisor Ron Nielson. “But if all four teachers in your professional learning community or both of you in the same grade level are first-year teachers and you’re struggling, it’s pretty hard to lean on the other person when you know they’re struggling just as much as you are.”

The program at Montezuma proved so successful in Nielson’s view that “(a)fter the first year, Montezuma Creek, by the state accountability system, went from an F to a C. We were really pleased with the data. We were really pleased with the growth scores, even just the morale.”

“We learned a lot at Montezuma Creek,” Nielson told the Record. “The lead teacher program has been very successful, and Montezuma Creek Elementary School is no longer a turnaround school.”

It is worth noting that the school board had considered expanding the program to lure better administrators with offers of higher salaries, but decided to focus solely on teachers instead, something that sets them apart from many other administratively top-heavy school districts across the nation.

This just goes to show that when there is enough incentive to meet a demand, in this case for qualified and experienced teachers, there will be a supply to meet that demand.

What do you think of what this school did to turn itself around? Please share this article on Facebook and Twitter and let us know your thoughts. 

Source: School Raises Teacher Pay, Attracts Actual Teachers

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