Archive for the ‘Teacher Advancement Program’ Category


Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

June 1, 2010, states sent in their second round Race to the Top applications.  However, the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) may be seen as the great idea to help states and school districts solve the dilemma of compensating all personnel fairly, evaluating performance objectively, and using bonuses to motivate strong employees to do their best.

public elemenatary school in Colorado

public elemenatary school in Colorado

Too bad the research for TIF guidelines didn’t use (as yet) Scholastic’s Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on America’s Schools. The March 3, 2010, survey clearly noted that teachers do not do a good job because they may get bonuses.  As long as the pay is fair and adequate, they are more interested in collaboration for student success, good relations with the school community, clear standards common across the states, and strong support from the school administrators, school board, and superintendent.

Even so, school districts and states are going to try for TIF.  With deficit school budgets, how else are school districts going to keep high-quality teachers needed to innovate to reach today’s students (a strong consideration in the Scholastic survey)?  In fact, how are the schools going to establish innovative evaluations which “accurately measure teacher performance” unless they receive a grant to make it happen?

TIF guidelines are premised on the concept that tenure following a “steps and levels” salary schedule and ‘time in the system’ priority for transfer options leads to implicit (if not obvious) incentives for teachers and administrators to move to the least challenging schools.  Thus, low-performing schools are left with the newest or those least willing to make change of any kind.

Five core elements to receive a TIF grant are

1) A plan that communicates clearly what a “performance based compensation system” (PBCS) would look like.  One component that will take determined leadership to design.

2) The entire school community, including unions, must come to the table.

3) Rigorous, transparent, fair evaluation procedures that include, but are not limited to, student achievement (i.e. tests) and multiple observations in the classroom.

4) Data management and analysis.

5) Professional development to improve teaching strategies and time to analyze data.

As of April 2009 seven schools have implemented TIF with TAP, the Teacher Advancement Program designed under the auspices of the Milken Family Foundation in Santa Monica, CA.  The model has been promoted since 2000 by Lowell Milken, lawyer and philanthropist, with strong business connections which are seen the moment one reads the philosophy and assumptions of the model.

Now that schools, districts, states are looking for ways to change the tenure-evaluation-compensation design, TAP is the go-to model.  Most districts, of course, don’t have time or money to spend to plan a completely new paradigm.

The website says TAP provides on-the-job teacher training, career advancement, instructionally focused accountability, and performance-based compensation.  It says that performance award programs are successful when integrated with strong teacher leadership, professional development, and reliable analysis of student achievement-three of the factors that teachers in the Scholastic survey wanted.

Actually, when one finds a description of the process at a school using TAP, it looks very similar to many turn-around models designed to improve student achievement by making the most of teacher preparation, coaching, and collaboration on data analysis.

The big difference is the focus on bonus pay as the incentive to get teachers to take on a model to turn around a high-need school.  And, so far, studies don’t address bonus pay as a determining factor for good schools.  Finally, the website for TAP doesn’t address the problem of tenure, a negotiating factor with unions.