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SHOW ME THE MONEY: Denver Teachers Approve a Pay for Performance Plan

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"The new system acknowledges and rewards outstanding teachers and will enhance their professional capabilities. But the bottom line is the compensation system's impact on student achievement and our pilot has shown that students benefit when teachers work toward rigorous student achievement objectives."

Typically, teachers around the country are paid according to their years of service and the numbers of graduate education courses they have taken. However, under a new salary system approved last month, that system may soon change in Denver, CO.

In the future, Denver teachers could earn pay raises for improving student achievement, working in hard-to-staff schools, receiving good evaluations, and/or continuing their professional development. The new plan, Professional Compensation System for Teachers, or ProComp, was supported by 59 percent of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA). Turnout at the meeting to consider the new system was high, with over 85 percent of DCTA members voting.

“We’re delighted teachers have supported the ideas that are at the heart of ProComp,” said Denver Public Schools Board of Education President Les Woodward. “The new system acknowledges and rewards outstanding teachers and will enhance their professional capabilities. But the bottom line is the compensation system’s impact on student achievement and our pilot has shown that students benefit when teachers work toward rigorous student achievement objectives.”

While participation would be optional for current teachers, those hired after January 2006 would be automatically enrolled in the program. Pay raises would be based on a percentage of the starting salary for new teachers-currently $32,971. In collaboration with their principals, teachers would determine annual goals for their students’ academic growth. Teachers who meet their goals would receive a 1 percent raise, while teachers who exceed their goals would receive a 3 percent raise.

Teachers who work in schools with the greatest academic need, as well as teachers and specialists who fill positions in hard-to-staff schools would earn raises of 3 percent in addition to the other raises for which they qualify. Research has shown that high-poverty schools are particularly challenged in their attempts to recruit and retain qualified teachers. Teachers who complete an advanced degree in a subject they teach would receive an additional 2 percent raise and teachers who earn certification from the National Board for Professional Teacher Standards would receive additional raises of 9 percent.

In 2005, the plan will go before Denver voters who must approve a $25 million property tax increase to pay for it. If approved, Denver residents with homes worth $251,000-the average in Denver-would pay an additional $50 in taxes annually.

Denver Teachers Approve Pay-for-Performance Plan

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