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Report Release Moves Conversation on Denver’s Professional Compensation System for Teachers to the Next Stage

Denver, CO—Today, the Denver Public Schools (DPS) and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) released a report from the Design Team for Compensation and Career Pathways. This working group, comprised of teachers and principals, was selected by the DPS and the DCTA to consider potential changes to the incentive compensation system for teachers and other professionals in the DPS, known as the Professional Compensation System for Teachers, or ProComp.

The design team that produced the report met nine times over four months to review both Denver’s current system as well as compensation systems in other districts and other public service and non-profit sectors. The report details some agreed upon design principles for a new system as well as barriers and challenges for coming to agreement around an incentive-based system. The design team’s work, along with more teacher engagement work around the report, has been funded through a grant from Rose Community Foundation, a Denver-based foundation that funds work around systemic change in education and other areas. Rose Community Foundation was a key partner to the DPS and the DCTA in the initial development of ProComp.

“We are excited to release this report with DPS and DCTA. Our hope is that this report produces some buzz and discussion,” said Janet Lopez, senior program officer at Rose Community Foundation. “The intention is to provide a jumping off point for some ongoing discussion around the district about how to leverage the successes of ProComp to date, and to re-think some areas where it is not as successful. We look forward to having teachers and administrators react to the findings in this report. While it reflects a great deal of thought and work, we also know the real community work around ProComp is now just beginning.”

A full copy of the report can be accessed here. (Additional information about ProComp can be found here: http://denverprocomp.dpsk12.org/.) The principles and ideas contained in the report are the starting point for a broader conversation about how ProComp should function going forward. Those primary principles are:

  • Opportunities for leadership and increased compensation, including base-building opportunities and bonuses, should be available to teachers throughout their career.
  • The compensation system should be easy for teachers to understand. It should also be easy for administrators to understand and support.
  • The compensation system should attract and retain, with real incentives, effective and distinguished teachers in hard-to-serve schools
  • The compensation system should allow effective/distinguished teachers to increase earnings substantially without leaving the classroom.
  • The compensation system should attract, retain and reward effective and distinguished teachers.
  • The compensation system should value professional learning.
  • The compensation system should provide a formal and explicit structure for career progression and opportunities.
  • The design of the system should be sensitive to whether the requirements placed on teachers and school and district leaders are reasonable. The district must have systems/ practices in place to support the compensation system and support teachers in pursuing available opportunities.

The design team also created a compensation and career progression framework to serve as a starting place for further conversation about how these design principles might be applied to potential changes to ProComp.

The original ProComp compensation system was designed over a seven year period and eventually implemented starting in 2005. It was approved by a vote of DCTA members, funded by a voter-approved $25 million tax increase, and its development was supported by a number of community organizations and foundations.  It was created to attract and retain great teachers, particularly in high poverty schools and high needs subject areas, and to provide teachers with meaningful rewards for their real contributions to student progress. That system has been closely studied and examined to determine its effectiveness in terms of teacher retention and development and student and school outcomes over time. Those results were part of the design group’s study and discussion.

The release of this report marks the beginning of discussions around ProComp in anticipation of the renewal and renegotiation of the ProComp agreement. Teachers received a copy of the report earlier today, and will have the opportunity to participate in a facilitated process that will start in early spring 2015.

About Rose Community Foundation
Rose Community Foundation uses leadership, grantmaking and donor engagement to invest in strategic and innovative solutions to enduring problems and emerging issues. The Foundation has granted more than $217 million since it was founded in 1995. To learn more, please visit rcfdenver.org.