The kids in Denver were big winners when the local school board and teachers union headed off a potential strike at the eleventh hour. They also won when it was agreed that tense negotiations would be averted for another three years. But how well did they fare from the actual terms of the final compromise agreement made between DPS and DCTA?
Considering what might have been, Denver Public Schools students came out pretty well. Why? As the editors of the Rocky Mountain News pointed out yesterday, the school district’s nationally-known teacher performance pay program got a boost toward meeting its original purpose:
First, it dramatically increases the incentives available under ProComp. Several key bonuses for early and mid-career teachers will more than double, from $1,000 to $2,345 a year each. These incentives reward teachers who choose difficult-to-teach subjects, work in hard-to-staff schools and whose students improve in the classroom.
In that regard, a new incentive will be available to teachers in the schools ranking in the top 50 percent in growth of student achievement.
These changes will ensure that, compared with the existing agreement, much more money provided by the ProComp mill-levy will wind up with top-performing teachers and not sit in the bank.
The district now also will be better equipped to offer more in starting salary to attract high-quality candidates into the teaching workforce. Both of these factors are steps in the right direction. They address some of the weaknesses in the original ProComp, as highlighted by our own education policy analyst Ben DeGrow.
It now is up to the school board and teachers union members. For the sake of the students, their charge is clear: to ratify the agreement and move forward.