Growing Support for Dougco Pay-for-Performance Suggests Staying Power

According to a school district dispatch yesterday, Douglas County’s visionary, cutting-edge work in performance-based educator pay and evaluations has received a key nod of community support:

The Castle Rock Economic Development Council (EDC) has endorsed the Douglas County School District pay-for-performance program.

“We know excellent schools are one of the top reasons that companies choose to locate in Douglas County,” said Frank Gray, President, Castle Rock EDC. “We applaud DCSD for their ongoing commitment to excellence and we believe pay-for-performance will continue to improve our schools.”

The Douglas County Pay-for-Performance plan is something that my Education Policy Center friends and I are keeping a close eye on. District leaders are working hard and quickly to break the mold and upgrade how educators are evaluated and compensated, including a system of market-based differential pay based on teacher job descriptions. Except a more detailed report in the months ahead.

For now, though, it’s worthwhile to note the swift and steady pace set by the Board of Education to transform the K-12 education delivery system in a way that empowers parents, demonstrates fiscal responsibility, and expands professional opportunities:

  • In 2010-11 the Board adopted the recommendations of a community School Choice Task Force, creating a Blueprint for Choice that included a groundbreaking voucher-like scholarship program (currently tangled up in state court);
  • In 2011-12 the Board pursued a path of public transparent negotiations that culminated in ending monopoly union power, and established the formal policy that district resources no longer would be used to serve as the union’s political collection agent or pay for unaccountable union officers outside the classroom;
  • And now, in 2012-13, the Board’s vision of true performance-based pay and evaluations for educators is coming to life as district leaders sort through details to craft effective and equitable systems that are slated to be up and running by next year.

Their outside-the-box thinking translated into practical new solutions puts district leaders head and shoulders above their counterparts. A path has been charted for others to follow — in Colorado, and beyond — or perhaps to be left in the competitive dusts. The growing support for one of Dougco’s key initiatives speaks to its lasting potential if the course can continue to be pursued.