Massachusetts Department of Education
The aMAzing educators' initiative is an aligned, systemic approach to performance-based compensation designed to support and strengthen instruction in turnaround schools in the state's two largest urban districts (Boston and Springfield) to distill lessons learned for scaling up key elements. Twenty-one low-performing Level 4 turnaround schools in the Boston and Springfield public school districts are participating. This profile reflects the Springfield site implementation. The Boston site remains under conditions for full implementation and is not eligible to determine payout dates.
All 21 participating schools in Boston* and Springfield have large populations of students with the following characteristics: high poverty, highly transient, limited English proficiency, and special needs. Fifteen of these schools are in restructuring, and 6 are turnaround schools. In 2011, the percentage of students in these schools scoring proficient or advanced on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) averaged 31 percent in English language arts (ELA) and 24 percent in mathematics. In these schools, the median student growth percentiles were 40 in ELA and the 43 in mathematics, signifying low-to-moderate growth. The schools in both districts have fewer highly qualified teachers than other schools in the same district or the state average. Other challenges within these schools include a high percentage of new teachers and high teacher and principal turnover.
*Of the original 22 Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) schools, 1 has closed. The Agassiz School in Boston was closed in June 2010 and will not reopen. There are 21 remaining schools: 11 in Boston and 10 in Springfield.
Program Goals and Evaluation
The program seeks to improve student achievement in targeted high-need schools by improving teacher and principal effectiveness using performance-based compensation linked to new roles and responsibilities for teachers and incentives for more effective recruitment and retention. The program will measure student learning gains as an indicator of teacher effectiveness, which will, on a schoolwide level, be an indicator of a principal's effectiveness. The project objectives are as follows:
- By 2015, 95 percent of the stakeholders surveyed in TIF/turnaround schools will be able to accurately explain the traits and the qualities of effective educators as measured by the performance-based compensation system (PBCS) that complies with Massachusetts 603 CMR. 35.00, incorporating student growth as a significant factor.
- By 2015, 100 percent of the educators in TIF/turnaround schools in Springfield and Boston will be evaluated using a PBCS evaluation system that complies with Massachusetts 603 CMR. 35.00, incorporating student growth as a significant factor.
- By 2015, 100 percent of the TIF/turnaround educators will develop goals and receive targeted professional development that aligns to student learning goals that are based on student growth and educator evaluation data, as compliant with Massachusetts 603 CMR 35.00.
- By 2015, 90 percent of the TIF/turnaround schools will recruit and employ effective educators as defined by the educator evaluation system regulations (Massachusetts 603 CMR. 35.00).
- By 2015, at least 90 percent of the TIF/turnaround schools will identify, reward, and retain effective teachers using Massachusetts 603 CMR. 35.00, incorporating student growth as a significant factor.
- By 2015, TIF districts will complete a sustainability plan.
An independent evaluator will conduct the project evaluation, assisting with the collection and the analysis of data that will reveal the annual progress made by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), Springfield, and Boston toward meeting project objectives, performance measures, and targets.
Measurement and Incentives
The teacher evaluation system differentiates levels of effectiveness by using multiple rating categories that take into account the impact on student growth (based on multiple measures of student learning); progress toward meeting requirements on individual continuous improvement plans; supervisor ratings (based on research-based observational tools and rubrics); evidence of content knowledge, cultural proficiency, professional growth, and self-assessments; and other measures and indicators.
Teachers who demonstrate effectiveness can earn differentiated compensation through group and individual performance awards of up to 18 percent in Boston or up to 28 percent in Springfield as outlined in this section. Group rewards are paid to staff in schools that have met their growth targets. Individual rewards are distributed to effective teachers whose group and or school team meets performance targets. Individual rewards are also provided for effective teachers who take on additional leadership opportunities, commit to the turnaround school for another two years, and agree to have their classroom serve as a model classroom. Effective principals can earn up to an additional 13 percent to 18 percent in Boston and up to 17 percent in Springfield in addition to annual compensation based on student growth in their school and their school's ability to meet other measures of success.
Springfield provides performance-based bonuses for teachers and principals based on student measurable annual goals. Teachers and principals receive bonuses based on their individual school's performance. Springfield will also provide stipends for teachers who assume higher levels of leadership and responsibilities, such as teacher leader mentors.
Teachers and principals in Springfield can receive bonuses up to 5 percent of their annual base pay, which consists of the following measurable annual goals:
- Composite performance index (CPI)** mathematics: 1 percent
- CPI ELA: 1 percent
- Student growth percentile (SGP)*** mathematics: 1 percent
- SGP ELA: 1 percent
- Student attendance: 1 percent
After Boston satisfies all the conditions placed on implementation, performance-based bonuses for teachers and principals will similarly be determined using measurable annual goals.
**CPI is a measure of the extent to which students are progressing toward proficiency in ELA and mathematics. CPIs are generated separately for ELA and mathematics and at all levels (state, school district, school, and student group).
***SGP is a measure of how much a student has improved or grown academically from one year to the next when compared to his or her academic peers. SGP allows parents and educators to see whether a student has progressed similar to, greater than, or less than other students who had similar MCAS scores in the past.
Using Evaluation Results to Inform High-Quality Professional Development
ESE has and will continue to provide training and support to ensure all users understand the new evaluation framework and can link professional development to needs identified in the evaluation system. Instructional leadership teams in every school will be responsible for leading the school's professional development efforts and revising the plan as new data are gathered and analyzed. Professional learning teams help at the classroom level through data-driven decision making. The ESE educator evaluation team has delivered professional development offerings from evaluation data gathered from educator support plan trends and student achievement needs.
Using Performance-Based Compensation to Inform Key Personnel Decisions
The evaluation system will link to tenure, career advancement, compensation for additional roles and responsibilities and hard-to-staff schools, and demotion and dismissal. A teacher or a principal identified as ineffective who does not make acceptable progress toward achieving the goals of his or her continuous improvement plan after at least one year of intensive support may be demoted or dismissed and will not be rewarded using TIF funds. The school districts will retain the most effective teachers by providing additional compensation to teachers who are selected based on performance evaluation, commit to remain in the school for two more years, and operate model classrooms that build the school's instructional capacity.
Resources and Sustainability
The TIF grant represents the first stage of a comprehensive overhaul of data, evaluation, and compensation systems throughout the state.
Year 1 Activities
Both districts got off to a slow start in the planning year. Springfield was better positioned to begin planning and spending the available funds and had great success in establishing a collaborative relationship with its teachers’ union regarding understanding, agreeing upon, and garnering support for the project itself and the individual TIF requirements. While both districts experienced challenges to expending all available funds, Springfield was able to successfully contract with vendors and bring on staff to support the TIF rollout, using more than 60 percent of its budget.
Boston has been engaged in labor-management contract talks for approximately 1.5 years. As a result, it was unable to focus sufficient human resources on the TIF project. To date, the district has hired a full time TIF coordinator and a new director of human resources to shepherd the team through the planning year. Additionally, the deputy superintendent has assumed responsibility for accelerating the labor-management collaboration as it pertains to TIF’s successful implementation.
Year 2 Outlook
The Springfield project is on budget and scheduled to implement year 2 activities and award incentives in the fall of 2012. Twenty teacher leaders have been identified to participate in the collaboratively sponsored Race-To-The-Top/TIF mentor project to provide in building support to educators identified through evaluation as needing some support. Springfield has been able to reallocate personnel savings in the amount of $150,000 in years 2 and 3 to support the project.
Included in the scope of the Commonwealth’s TIF project is the requirement for effective educators to “open their classrooms” in order to be eligible to receive a reward for additional leadership responsibilities. In support of that effort Springfield will be dedicating classroom space in each TIF school to showcase the modeling of effective teaching and master teacher demonstrations. Educators throughout western Massachusetts will have access to job-embedded professional development through with the ability to attend model-classroom demonstrations at any of the ten TIF schools in Springfield.
Springfield will also be working closely with ESE to highlight the use of district determined measures in advance of the Commonwealth’s regulatory requirements. The educator evaluation rollout for the Commonwealth regards the Springfield/TIF implementation as a valuable resource for statewide educator evaluation implementation. Springfield is blazing the way as an early adopter district with the added challenge of presenting a new PBCS. All eyes are on Springfield as a model for the Commonwealth!
The Boston project continues to make progress toward the completion of all core element requirements. ESE anticipates that by the third quarterly report, due June 2012, all issues regarding the Boston implementation will have been resolved and the Commonwealth’s project will proceed free from all conditions.
Year 1 Grant Amount
Five-Year Grant Amount
Boston, Massachusetts, and Springfield, Massachusetts
Boston Public Schools and Springfield Public Schools
- Teacher leadership roles: $6,000
- Retention bonus for effective educators: $2,000
- Group rewards based on school performance: $2,000
- Total performance-based compensation: $10,000
- Additional pay for teaching in a turnaround school: $4,100
- Total potential compensation: $14,100
- Teacher leadership roles: $5,000
- Retention bonus for effective educators: $2,000
- Group rewards based on school performance: $5,500
- Total performance-based compensation: $12,500
- Additional pay for teaching in a turnaround school: $3,000
- Total potential compensation: $15,500
This page last updated on 3/30/2012