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Denver district and union extend ProComp agreement

DCTA and DPS at a bargaining session at Manual High School.
DCTA and DPS at a bargaining session at Manual High School.

Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association announced today that officials have reached an agreement on how ProComp, the district’s $25 million taxpayer-funded teacher incentive pay program, will work, at least until next September.

The agreement includes changes for the 2014-15 school year that reflect new teacher evaluation systems and the state’s transition to a new standardized testing program.

It does not include a district proposal for the 2015-16 school year that would have shifted more funds to teachers in high-needs schools, a plan that union officials raised numerous questions about.

Because teachers are now evaluated annually instead of every three years, they will be eligible for a smaller evaluation-based incentive each year rather than a larger incentive every three years.

For the 2014-15 school year only, the district will double, to about $5,000, the amount teachers can receive for working in a school with high growth scores on state tests, and temporarily get rid of an incentive for schools that received a high overall ranking. The district is not issuing a single overall ranking for schools on its School Performance Framework this year due to the new assessments.

Teachers will likely receive those incentives in March 2016, when the state is anticipated to release student growth scores based on this spring’s standardized tests. If the state is unable to calculate growth scores because of the new tests, union and district officials will negotiate again about how to calculate those incentives.

A report released by district and union representatives last year recommended that the district significantly change ProComp to make it easier to understand and to give stronger incentives to teachers in high-needs schools. The report raises concerns that the ProComp system may not be helping the district recruit or retain teachers.

District and union officials plan to continue negotiations about changes to ProComp for 2015-16, a broader redesign of the program for upcoming years, and changes to a program focused on struggling teachers.

The district is planning to host a series of conversations with teachers to get their feedback on additional changes.

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