Dallas ISD's Teacher Evaluation and Bonus Pay Program Is Working

A few years ago, Dallas ISD took the bold step of becoming the largest school district in the nation to both evaluate and pay its roughly 10,000 educators based on their effectiveness in the classroom. Dallas ISD leaders understood that, because the district educates a higher percentage of lower income and English language learner students than area districts, it needs to pay its more effective teachers a higher salary sooner in their career in order to compete for the region's best talent.Last week, the Dallas ISD board reviewed the third annual update of this innovative effort, and the results were once again incredibly promising for the parents and students of Dallas. Dallas ISD retained more than 95 percent of its exemplary teachers this year, with top teachers receiving an average salary increase of more than 17 percent to now make as much as $82,000 annually. Turnover among teachers rated proficient and higher slowed by 1 percentage point from 2016 to just 10 percent, well below the state's overall teacher turnover rate of 16 percent.Across the board, data also showed that Dallas ISD paid salaries that were above area averages at every year of seniority beyond year two, ranging from 3 percent to 5 percent more, depending on the year of cumulative experience.More importantly, recent achievement data for Dallas ISD shows that that the district's strategy on identifying and compensating for great teaching is working. During the last three years, the number of schools rated "Improvement Required" by the state has declined from 43 to just 14 campuses, with the number of students educated within an IR school declining by 73 percent.Even more impactful, college readiness as measured by state standardized assessments is also increasing. In 2016-17, more than 85,000 STAAR assessments across all grades and subjects met the state's post-secondary standard, a 63 percent increase compared with five years ago. Proficiency in the critical area of third grade reading has increased 8 percent in the last two years, and Dallas ISD's graduation rate has climbed from 83 percent to 88 percent since 2012 as well.But investing in robust systems to know who your effective teachers are has an impact that goes far beyond teacher retention and student achievement data. It also informs Dallas ISD regarding which educator preparation pipelines they should recruit more heavily from and which veteran teachers should be asked to train prospective educators going through their clinical residency experience. It also helps identify teachers who can be groomed for more campus responsibility, such as becoming an instructional coach or acting as a critical mentor for newly hired educators.Finally, the ability to recognize and compensate teachers for the effect that they have on our kids helps to bring greater income parity with other high-demand industries and professions. This could help encourage more students to think about choosing teaching as a career and grow the pipeline of candidates who consider going into the education sector.Dallas ISD should be proud of the steps they've taken to reward what we have always known. As DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa highlighted in his recent Texas Tribune interview, "This district pioneered the [Teacher Excellence Initiative], so we were ahead of the curve."Let's continue to support and accelerate the incredibly powerful work that the district has led. Great teachers matter, and every child, regardless of income or race or ZIP code, deserves an excellent one in front of them every day. The district is continuing to take the critical steps that will improve achievement for all kids while innovating with approaches that districts within Texas and nationally can study and perhaps implement themselves.George Tang and Kelly Kovacic are the chairman and managing director, respectively, of Best in Class DFW. Email: info@bestinclassdfw.org  Continue reading...

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