The new system, which takes effect next month for all 3,300 educators in suburban Douglas County, Colorado, has sparked fury and resentment among some teachers and some parents. But it has also drawn interest from superintendents around the nation.
"It's quite novel," said Eric Hanushek, an education economist at Stanford University.
School districts across the United States have traditionally treated all teachers the same; no matter what grade or subject they taught, they started at the same base salary and received the same raises for experience and advanced degrees.
In recent years, districts have tried to differentiate a bit by offering merit pay to their most effective educators, signing bonuses for teachers in high-poverty schools, and pay bumps for those in hard-to-staff fields, such as special education. But Douglas County's system goes much further.