Educator Effectiveness

Most research on improving student learning points to the need to improve the quality of teaching. Engaging and supporting teachers, teacher leaders, and school leaders in improving educator effectiveness has become a vital part of improving student success. APA has been working in this area for nearly two decades. Our work in this area includes assisting states in designing policies to support accomplished teaching, facilitating educator-led meetings, providing technical assistance to states and districts developing alternative pay programs, and assisting states creating new educator evaluation systems. Please click on the links below to find out more about our work in the Educator Effectiveness field.  To download a fact sheet summarizing our work in this area, please click here.
APA has helped numerous school districts as they have explored new ways of paying and rewarding effective teachers. For instance, Denver Public Schools (DPS) relied upon APA to help successfully plan and implement one of the nation's leading performance-based teacher compensation programs, ProComp. As part of our work, APA facilitated the work of the joint teacher and administration task force and developed a mechanism to answer questions such as how many teachers opt into the program over time, and which aspects of the program are supported by research and practice. Other clients, including several school districts and the states of Ohio and New Mexico, have used APA to help develop and estimate the cost of revised teacher compensation plans. APA has also worked with a number of school districts, states, and national organizations to write, prepare, edit, and budget successful proposals to the Teacher Incentive Fund during the 2010 and 2012 rounds of funding. These successful grant proposals accounted for over $210 million for these education organizations over a five-year period, with an estimated 80 percent of that funding aiming to support and reward more than 3,000 teachers who educate over 60,000 students.
For the past 14 years, APA staff has provided advice and support to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). This organization seeks to enhance the teaching profession maintaining rigorous standards for what accomplished teachers should be able to do and by providing a national voluntary system to certify teachers who meet these standards. APA assistance includes work with state and local policymakers on support for certification and support for its inclusion in alternative teacher pay programs.
States and local school districts working to change evaluation system have received support from APA staff and consultants on the development of those plans. These efforts have included the creation of teacher engaged student learning objectives. In Austin, Texas, APA lead and managed the process of creating the Austin REACH Professional Development Unit (PDU) rubric, a complementary element within its performance-based compensation system. PDUs are job-embedded professional development opportunities that teachers engage in with peers to improve their practice. These are aligned to a teacher's needs in the classroom and the teams present their learning at the end of the study. In Austin, 55% of the score is based on evidence of student growth, while the remaining expectations are based on evidence of teacher growth.
APA has completed a number of projects related to teacher preparation programs, teacher recruitment and teacher retention. We conducted a study to identify high-performing schools from across the country that also have high percentages of economically disadvantaged students. These schools are often considered "hard to staff" because they frequently experience high levels of teacher turnover.  Using interviews with school and district leaders, teacher surveys, and other data collection devices, APA identified the types of school and district level policies which can be effective in bringing the best teachers to the schools that have the highest levels of student need. As part of REL Central, we created a survey for school districts in five states to gather information on mentoring programs for first year teachers.  The results were presented to each state individually, an analysis was also completed across states, and by district locale.  The survey data helped states to understand the supports available to beginning teachers and to identify areas for improvement which could help with teacher retention. We are also currently working on a project in Kentucky that focuses on the entire life cycle of a teacher, from teacher preparation programs (including formal schooling and a teacher residency), through teacher recruitment, retention, and career progression.
At APA, we believe that all stakeholders should be involved in decisions affecting their field, and as such we work to incorporate multiple voices, including teacher voice, into much of our work. We recognize that working with multiple voices from the state, districts, and schools in the creation of education reforms is necessary, complicated, messy, and possible. To that end, APA has facilitated hundreds of conversations among district leaders, teachers, principals, and community members about how to:

  • Start an alternative compensation program
  • Identify effective market incentives
  • Create a system to evaluate teachers and principals effectively
  • Run a PBCS effectively and efficiently
  • Make mid-course corrections to the program
  • Scale the system from a pilot effort to a district-wide program.

Since 2012 we have facilitated the Jefferson County Public Schools, CO, TIF Consortium, which brings together school districts from across Colorado with an interest in alternative teacher compensation. We also staff the Southwest chapter of the Teacher Union Reform Network, which provides an opportunity for educators and administrators from eight southwest states to come together twice a year to discuss reform initiatives that focus on results for students.