Center for American Progress

Early Success for Performance Pay: Educators Speak About Programs

Early Success for Performance Pay: Educators Speak About Programs

CAP interviews educators whose schools are using an innovative system to reform teacher compensation and improve student achievement.

Listen to the interview with Dan Hoverman, Superintendent of the Mounds View Public Schools in St. Paul, MN

Listen to the interview with Ron Wilke, Principal of LaCrescent-Hokah Elementary School in LaCrescent, MN

Congress is currently considering the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The section of the bill that focuses on teacher and principal quality (Title II) contains an important initiative that would provide federal incentives to reform the teacher compensation systems in high poverty schools. The bipartisan proposal—from House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Ranking Member Howard McKeon (R-CA)—is an important step toward attracting and retaining top teachers in high-needs schools and subject areas.

Critics of the proposal have been spreading misleading information about performance pay, but alternative compensation programs in Denver and Minnesota that were developed in consultation with teachers and tailored to state and local needs have shown early signs of success.

In Minnesota, the Quality Compensation for Teachers program, enacted by the state legislature in 2005, provides funding for programs in alternative teacher compensation in school districts and charter schools across the state. The Q-Comp program has five components to ensure success in student achievement and teacher development:

  • Career ladders for teachers
  • Job-embedded professional development
  • Instructional observations and standards-based assessments
  • Measures to determine student growth
  • Alternative teacher compensation or performance pay

CAP talked to two Minnesotans who have worked closely with teachers, unions, and state officials to develop the Q-Comp program in their schools about how Q-Comp is improving teacher performance and student achievement.

Dan Hoverman, superintendent of the Mounds View School District in suburban St. Paul, told us that Q-Comp has “changed the culture of the schools” in his district. And Ron Wilke, principal of LaCrescent-Hokah Elementary School in LaCrescent, a smaller town in the southeast corner of the state, says that Q-Comp has helped his school to “focus the conversation in terms of teacher learning, teachers coming out of their classrooms, coming together, and looking at student needs.”

Minnesota’s example shows that alternative teacher compensation can succeed in improving student learning and teacher development, especially when the district, administrators, union, and teachers all work together to create and implement the right plan for each school and district.

Read the transcripts and listen to the interviews:

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