I.I. Report Covers Colorado Teacher Pay Innovations, Harrison Program; U.S. Dept. of Education, NCTQ Challenge Nashville Study

Last fall a story about a report on teacher pay reform made the front page of the Denver Post: “Offering teachers bonuses for student growth didn’t raise scores, study finds.” Yes, the front page. Back then I shared a fresh reaction with insights from national experts like Rick Hess concerning what the study actually did or did not say about the Nashville incentive pay experiment.

Well, a conversation of that report in the context of teacher pay reform research shows up in a newly released issue paper from my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow, titled Pioneering Teacher Compensation Reform: K-12 Educator Pay Innovation in Colorado. The focus of the new paper is on Colorado’s significant number of local school districts and charter schools improving their teacher pay systems by moving rewards and incentives away from seniority toward measured performance.

The star of the group? If I had to pick one, it definitely would be Harrison School District 2 for its Effectiveness and Results (E and R) program — currently in its first full year of operation. Harrison’s program definitely is not an MPINO (as coined by Stuart Buck and Jay Greene). It will be very interesting to see the results it yields. Other school leaders should be paying close attention.

Unlike Harrison’s E and R program, the Nashville experiment was not true performance pay. I didn’t expect the results to be terribly successful or profound, but splashing its findings on the front page has led some readers to draw confused or misguided conclusions about K-12 compensation reform. Now, thanks to the keen eye of the National Council on Teacher Quality, we see that the U.S. Department of Education has rated the Nashville study as “does not meet…evidence standards.”

While I wouldn’t expect the Denver Post to highlight the Department’s critique on the front page, some short follow-up piece would appear to be in order — seeing as so much attention was given to the report back in September. Maybe such a follow-up could highlight what Harrison is doing in contrast, or even mention the new Education Policy Center report. Hey, I’m young. I can dream, can’t I?