Connecting professional learning and leadership to improved student outcomes | Chalkboard Project

Connecting professional learning and leadership to improved student outcomes

Thursday, April 14, 2016 Sue Hildick Teacher standing at front of class

The recent release of our final report about the federally funded Teacher Incentive Fund and the statewide news coverage last week re-opened the subject of teacher performance pay. Most readers likely came away with the impression that TIF’s focus was solely on performance pay and failed to make a lasting impact. Chalkboard would like to share the full story.

TIF was a $24 million five-year federal program coordinated through Chalkboard Project. While the program was separate from Chalkboard’s CLASS initiative, it shared the same overarching goal: improving teacher effectiveness to have the greatest impact on student learning.

Under TIF, the districts’ goals were broad, including:

  • developing new teacher and principal evaluation systems
  • training principals to be effective evaluators
  • developing professional development based on individual teachers’ needs
  • creating career pathways to teacher leadership roles

And while each district developed its own priorities and plans, they all had to meet the federal requirement of developing compensation models to find out whether teachers would be motivated by financial incentives, such as pay raises and bonuses, tied to student performance.

But TIF was always more than an experiment in performance pay. The program’s legacy will be the many innovative strategies developed by the participating districts: Strategies that led to improved instructional practices and increased student growth.

TIF did show Oregon teachers generally weren’t motivated by performance-based compensation. That was important to discover. TIF also showed teachers wanted to be recognized for taking on leadership roles and responsibilities. For example, Crook County rewarded classroom teachers for proposing and completing projects to sharpen their own and their peers’ instructional practices. And while Bend-La Pine and other TIF districts have stopped awarding teachers bonuses based on student scores, the district is continuing with its new Professional Advancement Support System (PASS), a new and innovative compensation model developed as a result of the TIF grant. PASS evaluates and compensates teachers based on professional development and growth, not just how many years they’ve been teaching or how many college credits or degrees they’ve earned.

The TIF grant lasted five years, but its impact will be felt for years to come. Most importantly, TIF showed the value of supporting the teaching profession through meaningful professional learning and leadership opportunities: Better prepared teachers deliver better instruction. Isn’t that what we want for our children?


  • Educator Workforce
  • Career Pathways
  • Compensation
  • Quality Educators

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