At the end of each school year, every TEP teacher receives a comprehensive individual evaluation. In making these evaluations, the TEP Principal considers each teacher’s performance with regard to (A) student academic progress, (B) instructional capacity, (C) pedagogical growth, and (D) school-wide leadership. Each teacher is then given one of the following evaluation ratings: (1) outstanding (high levels of student achievement, exemplary instructional practices, demonstrated pedagogical growth, strong school-wide leadership), (2) needs improvement (less than exemplary performance in one or more of the 4 Portfolio components listed above), or (3) termination.
TEP recognizes the importance of rewarding outstanding work. Beginning in his or her second year of employment at TEP, every teacher who receives an outstanding evaluation rating is eligible for the annual bonus.
While eligibility for the bonus is dictated by a teacher’s individual evaluation outcome, teacher bonus compensation levels are based on the degree to which TEP meets its goals for school-wide performance each year. This structure is consistent with TEP’s cultural emphasis on collaboration.
School-wide performance is measured by the attainment of specific student academic, attendance, and other aggressive goals that have been laid out by the TEP Principal (in collaboration with teachers) during the Summer Development Institute. New school performance goals are established before the start of each academic year using a 5-point rubric. These goals are derived from careful analysis of prior school-wide achievement levels.
At the end of each school year, the TEP Principal and Board of Trustees assign a School-Performance Score (from 0 to 5) for the year. This score is used to calculate the bonus compensation awarded to each teacher in a given year. The bonus compensation has 2 components: (1) Current Year School Performance Bonus (CYSP Bonus) and (2) Lifetime Contribution Bonus (LC Bonus).
(1) Current-Year School Performance Bonus (CYSP bonus):
This component of the bonus serves to reward every eligible teacher in the case that the school is successful in meeting specific goals during that school year. Since school-wide performance (not individual teacher performance) is the determining factor, every eligible teacher is awarded the same CYSP bonus in a particular year. This fosters a culture of collaboration that is essential to the growth-oriented teacher development culture that is intrinsic to the mission of TEP. The CYSP bonus is calculated as follows:
(Current Year School-Performance Score) / 5 x $20,000
Thus, the CYSP bonus in a given year could equal $0, $4K, $8K, $12K, $16K, or $20K per teacher.
(2) Lifetime Contribution Bonus (LC bonus):
This component of the bonus rewards each individual teacher for his or her lifetime contribution towards meeting the school’s performance goals. In contrast to traditional teacher salary scales that reward experience for experience’s sake, this compensation rewards only positive experience—experience that was successful in contributing to the school’s performance goals. The LC bonus is calculated as follows:
(Current Year School-Performance Score) / 5 x $1,000 x (Lifetime Contribution Points)
This calculation involves a teacher’s Lifetime Contribution Points, which equal the sum of the annual School Performance Scores for the years the teacher is eligible for the bonus.
The table below calculates the bonus pay for a hypothetical Teacher X:
Note that the value of a given year of experience varies since not all years are weighted equally. The teacher’s fourth year of eligibility counts for less “experience” than the teacher’s third year, since during the third year the school was slightly more successful (score of 5) in meeting its performance goals than during the fourth year (score of 4). In addition, note that the LC bonus is the one element of TEP’s teacher compensation that trends upward, the longer that a teacher is employed at TEP (although there are occasional downward drops as seen from year 1 to year 2 above). Since the teacher’s base salary remains flat (aside from periodic cost-of-living adjustments), and the CYSP bonus is unrelated to length of tenure, it is the LC bonus that provides the equivalent of annual raises, a necessary element of a sustainable compensation plan. The innovation is that raises do not reward simple longevity; instead, raises reward only experience that contributes positively towards meeting the school’s goals.
A note about the payment of teacher bonuses: Teacher bonuses are paid in equal installments over the course of the year immediately following the year in which the bonuses are earned. For example, Teacher X receives an Outstanding rating for the 2010-11 academic year, her second year of employment at TEP (which is her first year of eligibility for the annual bonus). During the same year, TEP receives an annual school performance score of a perfect 5 out of 5. Thus, Teacher X earns a total bonus of $25,000, which is paid out to Teacher X in equal bi-monthly installments over the course of the following academic year, 2011-12. If Teacher X leaves TEP before all or part of her bonus is paid out, she forfeits the remaining unpaid portion of the bonus.