Colorado District Limits Raises for Partially Effective Teachers

In a move rejecting an independent review, the Jefferson County Board of Education in Colorado decided to restrict pay raises for teachers rated only “partially effective.”

A third-party “fact finder” review concluded that the current teacher evaluation system “lacks sufficient validity and reliability as a basis for setting salaries.”  The report recommended that the state’s second-largest school district wait until the 2015-16 school year before restricting raises for certain teachers.  At that time, only teachers rated as effective or higher should benefit from the raises, so long as the district continued to work with the Jefferson County Education Association on improving the evaluation system in place.

In a 3-2 vote, the board rejected the recommendations, stating the “belief that there should be an effective teacher in every classroom.”

Currently, the district does offer professional development to teachers who are rated partially effective or ineffective.

“It’s very important we make certain as a district and an organization that performance means something — that we reward our highly effective teachers in a way that lets them know there is a purpose and a value in striving to be great in what you do,” board chairman Ken Witt said Thursday night.

In the 2013-14 school year, 89 of the 5,000 teachers in the district received a rating of partially effective or ineffective.  Those rated ineffective were not given raises.  A budget of $18 million is in reserve for salary increases for district staff.

For those rated partially effective, there is only an issue if they also have tenure.  Step increases are the raises under discussion, the amount of which depends on how long a teacher has been working for the district.

“It’s critically important that we ensure every Jeffco student has an effective teacher and we want to make sure that those teachers see an increase in their paychecks as soon as possible,” said Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee in a statement. “We also want to provide additional support to those teachers who haven’t met that benchmark. We want every teacher to achieve their highest level of professionalism because our students deserve that.”

Witt proposed a new teacher compensation model which would be based on evaluations, current salaries, bonuses, and more.  The new model would offer more rewards for those teachers rated highly effective.

District staff is asking for more time to discuss the proposal.  The recommendations are non-binding, and the school board has 30 days to accept or reject them.

In the meantime, no raises will be offered.

“We are still holding out hope we can work with this majority board,” teachers union president John Ford said. “We are still willing to move in a direction where we’re collaborative and working on certain things like teacher evaluation.”