Wisconsin’s Act 10, Flexible Pay, and the Impact on Teacher Labor Markets: Student test scores rise in flexible-pay districts. So does a gender gap for teacher compensation.

Barbara Biasi

Using employment records on all public-school teachers in Wisconsin linked to individual student information on achievement and demographics from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, I first document how teacher salaries changed in flexible-pay and seniority-pay districts in the aftermath of the reform. After the expiration of districts’ collective bargaining agreements, salary differences among teachers with similar seniority and credentials emerged in flexible-pay districts, but not in seniority-pay districts. Before the passage of Act 10, such teachers would have been paid the same. These newly emerging differences are related to teachers’ effectiveness: Teachers with higher value-added (individual contributions to the growth in student achievement, as measured by standardized test scores) started earning more in flexible-pay districts. This finding is striking considering that school districts in Wisconsin neither calculate value-added nor use it to make any human-resources decisions. School and district administrators appear to be able to identify an effective teacher when they see one.

Does Flexible Pay Attract Better Teachers?

Changes in teachers’ pay arrangements after the expiration of the collective bargaining agreements changed teachers’ incentives to stay in their district or to move, depending on the teachers’ effectiveness and the pay plan in place in their district of origin. Because flexible-pay districts compensate teachers for their effectiveness and seniority-pay districts only reward them for seniority and academic credentials, teachers with higher effectiveness should want to move to flexible-pay districts, whereas teachers with lower effectiveness and higher seniority should want to move to seniority-pay districts.

The data confirm these hypotheses. The rate of cross-district movement more than doubled after Act 10, with most moves occurring across districts of different type (flexible-pay vs. seniority-pay). Teachers who moved to a flexible-pay district after a collective bargaining agreement expired were more than a standard deviation more effective, on average, than teachers who moved to the same districts before the expiration; these teachers also had lower seniority and academic credentials and enjoyed a significant pay increase upon moving. The effectiveness of teachers moving to seniority-pay districts, on the other hand, did not change. and these teachers did not experience any change in pay.


WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators


The late 1990’s Milwaukee pension scandal is worth a deep dive as well.




Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?