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More and more school districts and states are beginning to tie teachers’ pay to their students’ test scores. But how are teacher salaries currently calculated, and will these new methods change education for the better?

In this lesson, students will use and compare linear functions to analyze how teacher pay is currently determined according to experience and education. Once they understand the current salary scale system, they can decide whether they would give the alternative merit-based pay an A+ or failing marks.

Students will

  • Estimate a rate of change (slope) from a graph and table of teacher salaries at various educational levels
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of paying teachers based on experience and educational attainment
  • Model, using a graph, a new policy to pay teachers based on their students’ standardized test scores
  • Propose and defend other functions to determine teachers’ salaries

Before you begin

Students should be able to determine a unit rate from a table or graph and be comfortable reading a multiple-line graph.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices


Key and Peele, NBC Nightly News, PBS NewsHour