New (summative) evaluation results on Denver’s teacher compensation system, ProComp (Professional Compensation System for Teachers) are here. ProComp has been touted as a model system for a few reasons. It was developed by Denver Public Schools in collaboration with Denver’s teachers union (DCTA), was piloted for four years, and was funded through a citywide vote. It includes multiple pay incentives for teachers at both the school and individual levels.
As is the case with most evaluations, it doesn’t give us the final answer to the big question—does it work? But it does tell us a lot about what’s happened since ProComp—and most of it’s good. The study finds that student outcomes are up across grades and subjects, and that teacher recruitment and retention has also increased. These positive outcomes can’t be tied directly to ProComp and, in all, the evaluation can’t pinpoint a “ProComp effect.” But that’s not to say ProComp hasn’t had any effect. By the 2009-10 school year, nearly three-quarters of teachers are ProComp participants—that shows wide-scale acceptance and, along with reports that the system is much better aligned with the mission and goals of the district, suggests sustainability. Teachers report more collaboration, not more competition as was expected by some when ProComp began. System leaders say ProComp led to changes in the district’s HR policies and procedures and paved the way for Denver’s achievement growth model and new evaluation system.
Much more detail in the full report (pdf), which is one of the most extensive studies of alternative compensation systems you’ll find so well worth reading. (Also see study of TAP system in Chicago here and other studies at the National Center on Performance Incentives here).