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Addendum: Teacher Career Ladders

February 6, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Alan Moss

Executive Summary 

Career ladder programs allow teachers to earn a supplement to their incomes by completing activities such as student mentoring and earning professional credentials. These plans are optional in Missouri, with neither school districts nor teachers being required to participate. Missouri is one of the few states to have a state-funded career ladder program, though related incentive or merit-based pay structures for teachers are used in some states and school districts. Though still in code, Missouri’s teacher career ladder program has not been funded since 2011. House Bill 2493 would make several changes to the structure of the teacher career program, including reducing the number of service years required to enter into the program and expanding the number of qualifying activities for such programs. Additionally, it would increase state matching for such programs from 40% to 60%.  


  • The Missouri Career Development and Teacher Excellence Plan, commonly called the Career Ladder Program, was created in 1985.
  • The program was last funded in 2010 when it had a $37,467,000 appropriation.


  • Two studies have shown that academic performance is higher in participating school districts, though other factors about the school districts could explain this.
  • The effects of such plans on teacher recruitment and retention are unclear due to a lack of research on the topic.


This is an addendum to a previous Science Note on Teacher Recruitment & Retention.

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