November 15, 2010
NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS PROVEN STRATEGIES FOR MAKING
PERFORMANCE PAY WORK
Educators from around the country identify six common themes that led to successful design and implementation of performance-pay initiatives
Washington, D.C.—The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) today released a new report highlighting effective measures for implementation of federal Teacher Incentive Funds—and their impact on student achievement—in six diverse locations around the country. Representatives from the six projects shared their experiences, lessons learned and results during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C.
With the enactment of the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) in 2006, the federal government pioneered an effort to support innovative approaches that compensate teachers and principals based on their effectiveness. The teachers' and administrators' experiences presented today provide valuable insight for districts and states implementing compensation reforms aligned to other support systems through new TIF grants, Race to the Top and revised state teacher evaluation structures. The Department of Education recently announced it had chosen 62 new TIF recipients in 27 states.
"With their first-hand experience, these educators can describe what makes performance pay work," said Jonathan Eckert, Ed.D, a professor of education at Wheaton College, IL, former U.S. Department of Education teaching fellow, and the author of Performance-Based Compensation: Design and Implementation at Six Teacher Incentive Fund Sites. "This is timely given the significant increase and geographic reach in TIF funding for schools and districts, particularly those new to these reforms."
The report, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Joyce Foundation, provides compelling preliminary data in support of the positive impact that innovative performance-based compensation systems can have on student achievement, recruitment and retention of teachers and overall school environment.
Among the six sites, the research—including interviews, focus groups, data analysis and site-based observations—identified a number of common themes in the design and implementation of their compensation systems:
- Performance pay was not implemented as a tactic, but as part of a wider systemwide strategy that also included professional development, collaboration and evaluation.
- Performance pay was aligned with professional development resources and other accountability measures.
- Each school or district involved key stakeholders in their efforts.
- Teachers were appointed to leadership positions and charged with overseeing instructional improvement and evaluation.
- Reforms were folded into existing systems and objectives, instead of being implemented in isolation.
- Local and state funding was reallocated and/or secured to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the new systems.
The projects featured in the report represent a cross-section of high-need schools from a mix of communities in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Arizona, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina.
"Our TIF project has had a direct impact on state policy around evaluation, professional development and compensation," said Dennis Dotterer, executive director of South Carolina TAP, one of the six sites featured in the report. "The project will continue to play a role in shaping our state approach as we see strong results from these reforms."
Amy Holcombe, Ph.D, TIF coordinator of Mission Possible within Guilford County Schools, North Carolina, added, "The local education association and teachers are integral to the design of the program to ensure that it meets their needs. No matter how great the program is, if it's not something that they can get behind, it's less effective."
"TAP was chosen as our system for professional development and incorporated into each school's charter, thus ensuring that it wasn't seen as an add-on, but rather the bedrock of our efforts to improve instructional strategy and drive student achievement," said Andrea Thomas-Reynolds, Ed.D, CEO of the Algiers Charter Schools Association in New Orleans, Louisiana.
"The opportunities for career advancement and professional growth have allowed me to grow as an educator as well as provide support to other teachers," said Claudia Perez, a mentor teacher at Pan American Academy in Philadelphia, which uses the TAP system. "The teachers at my school, including myself, have become better teachers and consequently, we are seeing increases in student achievement."
Roseanne Lopez, TIF grant director for the Amphitheater Unified School District in Tuscon, Arizona, attested to the impact teacher leaders have on creating "a collaborative environment that understands student achievement data analysis and how that needs to be connected to teaching and learning."
According to Michael Savage, principal at Audelia Creek Elementary School in Dallas, Texas, within the Richardson Independent School District, "performance compensation is an important tool, but it is particularly useful when combined with a system for helping teachers to improve their skills over time."
Download the full report, Performance-Based Compensation: Design and Implementation at Six Teacher Incentive Fund Sites, via http://www.tapsystem.org/publications/eck_tif.pdf.
The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching is an independent public charity committed to ensuring a highly skilled, strongly motivated and competitively compensated teacher for every classroom in America. Its signature initiative is TAP: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement, a comprehensive school reform model that provides teachers with powerful opportunities for career advancement, ongoing professional development, a fair accountability system and performance-based compensation. Learn more at http://www.tapsystem.org .
Mark Bonine, Principal, Nellie Stone Elementary, Minneapolis, Minnesota
"We've seen great improvement. We have not only anecdotal evidence, but we also have hard data about both student scores and teacher instructional strategies improving. Master and mentor teachers tell us that when they observe in the classroom, they're seeing [proven] instructional strategies in place across school grades and content areas."