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Encouraging News: Performance Pay in Harrison Gradually Gaining Teacher Support

I’m busy tweeting about the landmark first day of open union negotiations in Colorado’s third largest school district — Douglas County — so you’ll have to forgive a shorter post for today.

In my normal brilliantly childlike fashion, I jump at the opportunity to put together two topics I’ve written about recently. What are those two things? A survey of teacher opinion and the Harrison School District Two’s cutting-edge performance pay system.

Put them together and what do you get? An in-depth article yesterday from the Gazette’s Carol McGraw gives the answer:

The D-2 questionnaire, answered anonymously in late March by 484 of 720 teachers, shows a decline in the number of teachers who dislike the program.

Seventy-three percent agreed that teachers should be compensated based on performance and student achievement results. That compares to 69 percent in 2010.

Asked if they support Harrison’s plan, 55 percent said they did, 30 percent were “neutral” and 13 percent did not. That compares to 17 percent who disliked it in 2010.

It’s encouraging to see a comprehensive pay reform, one of the nation’s most cutting-edge in K-12 education, trend favorably in teacher opinion in its first couple years. I will continue to keep an eye on developments there, especially as Superintendent Miles picks up to move to Dallas. Meanwhile, the Gazette story features a great response from the outgoing superintendent to an academic critique of the Harrison performance pay plan:

In an academic response, the plan was generally praised, but also criticized on some points. Allan Odden, policy analyst with Wisconsin Center for Educational Research, said the plan should consider higher educational degrees of teachers and offer higher pay for those in high-risk schools.

Miles says there is no correlation between higher degees and student achievement. “So why pay for that?” he said.

Likewise, Miles noted that all the schools in Harrison are high-risk. [link added]

As they say, that takes care of that. If you don’t think Miles and his team have taken a very thorough and careful approach to advancing compensation reform in the Colorado Springs school district, think again.