“When it comes to building systems of evaluation and support, teachers must be at the table shaping the terms. That’s exactly what they did in Jefferson County, Colorado, where management and labor came together to develop a performance pay model based on a robust system of evaluation. They established new leadership roles for teachers that allow them to earn more and both stay in the classroom and have a greater voice in how their schools are run. That’s common sense and revolutionary at the same time.” –U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
A unique collaboration
Jeffco’s innovative strategic compensation pilot in 20 schools is a unique collaboration among the district and its teacher and administrator associations.
The goals are to improve student learning, increase teachers’ professional skills and reward educators for results. The pilot rewards what Jeffco values—exemplary performance and teamwork. All pilot schools get the same new supports for educators. The only difference is compensation.
The pilot is part of national research. Now in the second of four years of research in schools (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15), the pilot is funded by a $39 million federal grant—the largest the district has ever received.
Our greatest hope: Jeffco’s pilot will improve student learning by identifying support to help all teachers grow—in Jeffco and in schools across Colorado and the nation.
Career opportunities for teacher leaders
The pilot offers unique career opportunities for teacher leaders. Outstanding teachers work with their colleagues—as mentor teachers, master teachers and peer evaluators—to help them become more effective. They take on new responsibilities, work a longer school year and earn an additional stipend.
Significant culture shifts are under way in pilot schools—from teachers working alone to working together and getting feedback from colleagues.
With data from just one year of implementation in pilot schools, overall results aren’t in yet. That’s because the new supports must be proven effective for student achievement and teacher effectiveness over time. Here are early celebrations.
Independent researchers are analyzing student achievement data and conducting in-depth research with pilot school educators. When the pilot ends after 2014-15, the goal is to know which new supports made the most difference for student achievement and teacher effectiveness.
Two groups of pilot schools
Since this is a research project, the 20 pilot schools are divided into two groups—design and control. They all receive the same supports for teachers. The only difference is compensation.
In the 10 design schools, all licensed staff have the potential to earn additional stipends of up to $15,000 each year for meeting school and team student learning growth goals, and earning an exceptional evaluation that’s significantly above average performance.
In the 10 control schools, all licensed staff earn a 1 percent annual participation stipend.