ON-Lion Letter

"Colorado's 2010 educator effectiveness reform has improved the K-12 public school system's capability to distinguish the quality of instruction," begins a recent report from the Independence Institute in Denver.  "One school district has gone further than any other in taking the next logical step:  differentiating teacher pay based on effectiveness.  Harrison School District 2 in Colorado Springs has pioneered a rigorous and sustainable system of performance-based compensation.  Seniority and academic credentials no longer factor into teacher salaries.  The approach aligns well with the research on the ineffectiveness of traditional pay systems.

"Launched in 2010, Harrison’s Effectiveness and Results (E&R) program grew out of former superintendent Mike Miles' intense focus on boosting achievement among a challenging student population," continues Performance Pay Pioneers:  Harrison's "Effectiveness and Results" Raises the Bar, by Ben DeGrow.  "The district is comprised of about 70 percent low-income and 70 percent minority students.  Establishing and maintaining a system of true performance pay has relied on strong leadership, aided by the lack of a formal union contract, and an organizational culture driven by high expectations."

DeGrow is a senior education-policy analyst at II, which is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

"No rigorous formal research has been done to show E&R results in greater student success," he concludes, but several "key indicators strongly suggest the need to study a potential connection ...."  First, "[t]he district climbed steadily from academic watch status in 2006 to a strong accreditation rating in 2013.  Second, overall state "and district assessment scores rose steadily between 2009 and 2013."  Third, "[t]he district's average ACT test score rose from 16.8 in 2010 to 19.0 in 2014."  And fourth, "[w]ithin four years, the on-time graduation rate went from lagging the state average by 10 points to topping the state.

"E&R started as a five-year test drive with a failsafe option that would allow the district to return to a traditional pay structure.  But district leaders consistently express a strong commitment to continuing the program into the foreseeable future.  Harrison has pioneered a less difficult, albeit still challenging, path for other districts to adopt true performance pay.  Political will and leadership are needed to duplicate this approach elsewhere.  The more Harrison can demonstrate the source of its success, the easier that decision will be."

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |