As Act 10 reaches its second decade, the 2011 collective bargaining reforms continue to prove their value to K-12 education in Wisconsin. But this does not mean that the reforms are no longer controversial, or that opponents of the law have given hope of a repeal. In such an environment, it is important to continue to highlight the ways in which public sector union reform has mattered for Wisconsin.
New research out this month conducted by Barbara Biasi, professor at the Yale School of Management, does just that. She examines whether rewarding high-quality teachers with higher pay correlates to teacher proficiency thus, increasing student achievement rates in the long run. The results are convincing.
Prior to Act 10 in Wisconsin, collective bargaining kept public school teachers confined to strict pay schemes—favoring seniority instead of work ethic or student outcomes. Using data on Wisconsin teacher workforce both before and after the passage of Act 10 (2007-2015), Biasi found that some districts took advantage to implement pay schemes that reward teacher quality over the number of years they’d worked in the district in the wake of the law. Others did not, and were content to stick with the way pay had worked for generations. Biasi found that effective teachers gravitated toward districts where they could be rewarded. And in turn, using value-added measures of student outcomes, she saw that these districts experienced higher rates of student growth than districts that stuck with outmoded systems of pay.