A new report from the Center for American Progress examined salaries of mid- and late-careers teachers and found that after 10 years a typical teacher’s salary is just under $45,000. Most American teachers are paid according to rigid pay scales in which salary increases are determined by teachers’ length of service.  On average, the highest salary level for teachers is just over $65,000, according to CAP.

Of course, it’s important to note that those figures do not include benefits, nor are they annualized for a twelve-month work year. Even so, the real problem with teachers' compensation isn’t how much they’re paid, but how.

An effective teacher is the single most important factor to improved student achievement—far more important than smaller class sizes, adding more laptops, or even extending the school day. Research also shows that students in countries where teachers are paid based on performance score better on international assessments.

Education policymakers are taking notice. As CBS news recently reported:

Thirty-five states, along with the District of Columbia, now require that student achievement be a significant, or even the most significant factor, in teacher evaluations, according to a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, which advocates for teacher reforms. Just four years ago, a mere four states required evidence of student learning to be the most significant factor.

"The teacher evaluation landscape has completely transformed over the last several years, which is a step in the right direction," said Kate Walsh, president of the NCTQ, in a statement. "States have made huge strides in improving evaluation designs so that student learning is front and center." …While 10 states are heading towards teacher performance pay, only Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Utah and the District of Columbia directly tie teacher compensation to teacher evaluation results.

Paying teachers for their success at improving student learning makes good sense—for them and for their students.