Is the Douglas County Performance Pay/Market Pay system really working?
by Jerry Goings,
Retired Principal, Highlands Ranch High School
My name is Jerry Goings. I recently retired as the principal of Highlands Ranch High School. Despite my retirement, I remain passionate about education and I feel compelled to share my perspective on the current pay system in Douglas County School District in a series of three articles. Why now? I am optimistic that, due to the results of the recent school board election, the voices of our community will have the opportunity to be heard. There are community members, teachers, and administrators who would like to have their questions about the Performance/Market Pay System answered and more importantly, those people would like to know that their voices are being heard and valued.
While implementing the current pay and evaluation systems as Principal of HRHS, serving on the District Negotiations Team when Market Pay was first introduced, and through numerous conversations with teachers and administrators from many schools throughout the district it is my opinion that the current pay and evaluation systems have fostered a negative culture with the employees in Douglas County. Pay systems should be designed to attract and retain high quality employees. The current district leadership claims that the Performance/Market Pay system is achieving this goal. Where is the proof that this system is working? Several school leaders have asked the district leaders to survey or ask for feedback from teachers and school administrators. The Performance/Market Pay System was implemented almost four years ago and, to date, district leaders have not fully evaluated the effectiveness of the system.
My goal is to inform readers about this complicated pay system in a series of articles.
Article #2: How does the DCSD Market Pay system work?
- Is the Market Pay System fair or equitable?
- How was the Market Pay System developed and then implemented?
- What is the impact of being the only school district in the area using a Market Pay System?
- What happens when a teacher moves within the system (changing their pay band)?
- Does the Market Pay System value teachers who further their education?
- Does market pay value outstanding teachers in elementary schools?
Article #3: How does the DCSD Performance Pay System work?
- How does the system work when there are a limited amount of resources?
- Is there an unwritten quota (Bell Curve) for the amount of teachers who can achieve a Highly Effective rating?
- Does the Performance Pay System impact the morale of teachers? What are the consequences when using a complicated evaluation system to determine teacher pay?
- What is the required process that teachers must follow to prove they are highly effective in the classroom every day?
- How does a school administrator do the same?
- I estimate that 70% of DCSD teachers were rated as effective for the past three years. What is the impact on the morale of the teachers and classified staff, especially those rated at the higher end of the effective category?
- Is the DCSD system designed to pay teachers to work in a collaborative environment to improve student learning or is it designed to pay teachers to upload evidence, spending their time proving they are a good teacher?
Douglas County has had a long history of using performance pay. Prior to the change in DCSD Leadership, former district leaders, school administrators, and teacher leaders were in the process of evaluating and revising the teacher pay/evaluation system. The goal was to build a system that truly improved teacher and student learning.
At this time there is no documented Pay for Performance System in public education in the United States that has shown evidence of improvement in teacher performance or student achievement. There are several evaluation and teacher improvement systems that have impacted student achievement. Teaching is an art and measuring effectiveness is complicated because there are so many factors that impact the academic and personal growth of a child in, and outside, of the classroom. The purpose of my articles is to request DCSD Leaders to fully evaluate the current pay system in Douglas County School District. It is imperative that a committee consisting of board members, district leaders, school leaders, teachers, and classified staff members be formed to make decisions on how to best evaluate the current system. The evaluation of the system must have representatives from all groups involved in forming surveys and gathering data.