NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Pay For Performance Plan For Denver Teachers

September 10, 1999

Teachers in Denver are expected to approve a pay-for-performance plan today -- believed to be the first such program in the nation. While there are already plans that reward teachers as a group for the overall improved performance of their schools, the Denver policy would link teachers' pay raises to the performance of the students in their individual classrooms.

  • If the two-year pilot program pans out, raises based on such criteria as years of service or cost-of-living considerations would be things of the past.
  • At the end of the two-year period, school officials will evaluate the results and recommend criteria on which to base pay -- then the teachers' union will vote on whether to make the plan permanent.
  • Annual salaries for Denver teachers now range from $24,000 for a first year novice to $56,200 for a 41-year veteran of the system.

If the pilot plan is approved, school administrators intend to select three groups of five schools -- four elementary schools and one middle school -- to put the plan into effect. In the second year, the district plans to add a high school to each of the three groups.

  • Each of the three groups of schools would be evaluated by a different indicator -- either the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, or a measurement of tests and classroom work given by the teacher, or a measurement of student improvement in classrooms taught by a teacher who has sought to improve teaching skills by taking a development course.
  • Each teacher in the pilot schools would receive $500 for participating and an additional $1,000 if, by the end of the academic year, a majority of the teacher's students improved.
  • District officials estimate that the pilot program would cost about $3 million.

Source: Michael Janofsky, "For Denver Teachers, a Pay-for- Performance Plan," New York Times, September 10, 1999.


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