The belief is spreading that teachers deserve to be recognized for their output: student learning and growth.
Historically, teacher compensation was driven by years of experience and degree attainment, neither of which guarantee student academic growth. During the 2010-11 school year, 70 individuals - including teachers, principals, and representatives from the District and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) - collaborated to design new Rewards and Recognition opportunities. These opportunities applaud schools, teams, and teachers who achieve remarkable results in student outcomes.
With opportunities available at the District, school, team, and individual level, every teacher and staff member represented by the PFT is eligible for at least one form of performance compensation:
Adequate Yearly Progress Award
- In 2002, the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act required states to begin measuring Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP). States were able to create their own timelines and goals for AYP with the outcome of all students being proficient in reading and math no later than 2013-14.
- In Pennsylvania, this measurement includes attendance or graduation rate, and participation in and performance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA).
- Achieving AYP is an important benchmark for Pittsburgh Public Schools. By ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement in June 2010, PFT-represented professionals agreed that teachers at the top step of the salary schedule, for whom there is no salary step advancement, will receive a $1,000 award each year the District achieves AYP.
- In 2010-11, Pittsburgh Public Schools achieved AYP for the second time in three years. As a result, the District awarded $1.4 million to approximately 1,400 eligible teachers. The 2010-11 AYP Award is the first performance-based compensation distributed to Pittsburgh teachers, a significant milestone for Pittsburgh's teacher effectiveness work.
Students and Teachers Achieving Results
- Students and Teachers Achieving Results (STAR) is a school-level award to recognize all staff represented by the PFT in schools making extraordinary gains in student achievement. Certain schools within PPS have been making extraordinary contributions to student growth, and now we have a way to recognize their accomplishments.
- Pittsburgh Public Schools earn STAR status by being within the top 15% of Pennsylvania schools, rank-ordered for growth. In order to include all schools in the STAR opportunity, the District developed different STAR criteria based on the unique student populations served at its special schools. Early childhood education classrooms are also linked to elementary schools for STAR recognition.
- District and teacher representatives worked together throughout the 2010-11 school year to prepare and plan for the launch of STAR. STAR was introduced to schools in 2011-12. The first STAR schools were announced in 2012-13 based on results from 2011-12.
Promise-Readiness Corps Cohort Award
- The Promise-Readiness Corps (PRC) is focused on ensuring that each 9th and 10th grade student enters the 11th grade Promise-Ready. PRC Cohorts are empowered to work together to ensure that their group of students masters academic content, explores dreams and ambitions, and develops behaviors, and habits that prepare them for post-secondary success.
- To recognize the impact of these teams and their contributions toward student learning, we created the PRC Cohort Award. The award - of up to $20,000 - is based on better than expected results in student academic achievement, attendance, and course credits earned. For the first time last year, approximately $240,000 was distributed to eight teams receiving the PRC Cohort Award for their impact on student achievement.
Voluntary Incentive Earnings at Work
- The Voluntary Incentive Earnings at Work (VIEW) is a voluntary individual performance compensation program for teachers employed as of June 30, 2010. The VIEW Pay Program compensation will be up to $8,000 per volunteer annually.
- Following an exhaustive review of individual performance pay plans across the country, it is clear that policy is most definitely ahead of the research in the individual performance pay arena. That is why VIEW is a voluntary program, structured as a pilot. A team of twelve teachers and two administrators have been working together since 2010-11 to study individual performance pay programs and refine the VIEW pilot, which originally was to launch in 2011-12 with 75 volunteers. This committee is still planning the roll out of VIEW.
These Rewards and Recognition opportunities are calculated based on value-added measures, one of the District's newly developed tools used to identify differences in teacher effectiveness. Value-added measures help isolate individual, team, and school contributions to student growth. These tools are also used to reward teachers through a new salary schedule that links career earnings directly to evidence of effectiveness based on multiple measures.
Rewards and Recognition opportunities are funded in large part by a federal grant called the Teachers Incentive Fund. Overall, the District has paid out nearly $4.5 million in awards to reward teachers based on student performance.