Jack Kronser is the Human Resources Director of Recruitment for the Douglas County School District in Colorado. Douglas County has had a performance-pay plan for teachers since 1992. We recently asked him about the program and its impact on teachers and teacher candidates.
Can you describe briefly how the teacher performance-pay program in your district works?
Performance pay in the Douglas County School District has been in place since 1992 for all employee groups. It is one of the longest-running performance pay programs in the country. The Douglas County Teacher Performance Plan (TPPP) includes bonus incentives for responsibilities that were not traditionally compensated, such as skill development, meeting progress and performance goals (both individually and as a group), and taking on additional responsibilities (such as committee work).
How have teachers responded to the system?
Overall, this has been a very successful program, with many teachers opting into the aspects of performance pay that they were interested in. It has led to a great deal of teacher participation in the decision-making process of the district, and therefore has been good for morale. It has also led to skill development that reflects positively in the classroom.
Do you think the performance-pay program makes your district more attractive to prospective candidates?
Absolutely. The positive nature and strong teacher involvement in decision-making has attracted many teachers from within Colorado and from out of state. We hire between 400 and 500 new teachers every year. Most of these are experienced teachers who are choosing to come to Douglas County.
How important is the performance pay-plan in your recruitment materials or strategies? Has it changed the way you recruit teachers?
It is very important because it sets us apart from most other districts. Even though Denver Public Schools are very close (they have a compensation program called Pro Comp), we have had our program since 1992 and it has a proven track record. It is not so much the program as the results of the program and the positive atmosphere that it promotes. Our teachers want to be here, and they help us recruit other teachers with informal recruiting (at workshops, classes they take, conferences, etc.)
What advice do you have for teachers who are considering working in districts with performance-pay programs?
I think it reflects on the culture of the district. We want to reward those teachers who are going above and beyond. We want to reward teachers who are making a difference. Our teachers “get it,” that they are important and that we want to encourage that effort. Teachers who come to us seek that positive energy that is seen here.