Delaware Educator Compensation – Looking Towards the Future
Delaware laid the initial groundwork through Race to the Top for the design and implementation of a statewide performance pay program that attracts, supports, rewards, and retains educators that make positive impacts on student achievement. Below is an explanation of the framework established and possibilities to expand its impact.
Student Growth Metrics and Professional Evaluation: Utilizing DCAS assessment data and other measures in the new DPAS II evaluation system, Delaware will successfully identify educators that positively impact student achievement.
Utilizing this data, Delaware is using Race to the Top funds to expand the Achievement Awards Program (AAP). AAP currently provides five high-poverty schools that close the achievement gap significantly and/or exceeded academic yearly progress for two or more consecutive years with $150,000. Race to the Top funds will allow this program to expand to ten schools during the 2010-2011 school year. As the program expands over the next four years, Delaware must refine metrics in order to ensure funds are being distributed based upon effectiveness in high-needs classrooms to maximize the impact of these resources.
In addition to AAP, Delaware could consider how to use the new teacher evaluation ratings to inform decisions on increases in teachers’ base salary. Rather than years of experience, which we know has little influence on student learning after the first couple years inside the classroom, effectiveness would determine pay. This would allow for increased use of funds as listed above towards teachers that make positive impacts on student learning.
Market Incentives: Delaware’s RTTT application establishes a retention bonus program that provides up to $10,000 annually to teachers in critical-needs areas rated highly-effective. In the future, Delaware could consider providing recruitment stipends to highly-effective individual or teams of teachers that agree to serve in high-needs communities.
Tuition Reimbursement, Licenses, and Certifications: Delaware currently reimburses educators to pursue credits beyond the required Bachelor’s Degree and pays them more once they’ve earned the credits. Obtaining additional higher education credits, licenses, and certificates is both commendable and aligned with the desired culture of continuous learning. However, these additional knowledge and skills bear limited relation to increased student achievement. Therefore, rather than increasing base salary based upon acquisition of additional credits, Delaware should consider continuing to reimburse for acquisition of knowledge and skills while allocating resources currently slotted towards higher base salaries towards steps outlined above.
Although difficult, altering our salary structure is one of many changes that must be carefully considered in order to align the teaching profession with today’s global workforce practices. As demonstrated by the dismal school accountability ratings, the time for incremental change is over. Our students need and deserve a first-class teacher workforce that is both supported and compensated as the professionals they are.