Bryan ISD Crafts Innovative Teacher Compensation Plan
Bryan's Excellence for Students and Teachers (BEST) program rethinks teacher incentive pay for campus and classroom performance

Dr. Timothy Rocka
Bryan ISD

With support from the Bryan ISD Board of Trustees, the district embarked on an 18-month journey with a single question in mind: Can we create an innovative compensation program aimed at rewarding teachers financially for the academic performance of their campus and for taking on critical assignments?

The district’s move toward an innovative pay system for classroom teachers was proposed by Superintendent Tommy Wallis and spearheaded by Deputy Superintendent Tim Rocka.

“The compensation steps we had in place in the past allowed for stipends and supplements, which we would continue under a new system, but our older compensation plan did not adequately reward teachers in a way that truly celebrates the accomplishments in the classroom,” Rocka said. “Bryan’s Excellence for Students and Teachers (BEST) program allows teachers to earn supplements and stipends for taking on critical assignments, and receive performance-based bonuses for campus-level achievements.”

Support for a new incentive-based compensation plan began with the Board of Trustees, thus empowering Bryan ISD’s superintendent and deputy superintendent to plan a systematic bow-to-stern look at all ideas with a substantial emphasis on teacher-input and creative thinking.

Work on the new pay plan began in April 2014, and the planning process included a committee of teachers across the spectrum of K-12 classrooms, school/district administrators and board members. Through this work, the committee identified the key areas that could be incentivized with additional pay while having the most positive impact on student success. Battelle for Kids, a not-for-profit organization that specializes in strategic compensation programs, partnered with Bryan ISD in the design process.

The committee of 30 stakeholders identified a three-part incentive pay system including: 1) base pay; 2) supplements; and 3) performance-based incentives. The program is specifically designed for classroom teachers who are evaluated under the state’s Professional Development and Appraisal System (PDAS).

Module 1 Base Pay*: For current teachers, this includes yearly base pay increases depending on the availability of funds. The salary for new teachers would be dependent on a hiring-in schedule.

Module 2 Supplements*: Stipends and/or critical assignment supplements will continue to be offered to areas like bilingual and math. Staff who teach State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) subjects and/or classes with an end of course (EOC) exam will now also be included. Such payments would continue to be made monthly. To be eligible, a teacher would need to teach the subject at least four periods/hours (which has long been the district’s guideline to be eligible for critical assignment stipends).

Module 3 Performance-based Incentives*:
Campus eligibility—Campuses are eligible if they:

• Meet all state standards for accountability.
• Increase student attendance for the year.

Teacher pay for Module 3 will be enhanced based on meeting these requirements and achieving one or more distinctions from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

Teacher eligibility—Teachers are eligible if they:

• Serve in their primary role at an eligible campus (see above).
• Have a satisfactory PDAS evaluation and a valid teaching certificate.
• Do not miss more than four full days of work utilizing local leave, old state leave, state personal      leave and/or doc days. Leave such as military, temporary disability, Family Medical Leave Act, jury    duty and school duty will not count against the four-day limit.
• Are employed by Bryan ISD by Sept. 1 and complete their contractual year.

Incentive payments are made for the following year, after the district receives data from the Texas Education Agency. Teachers must still be employed in Bryan ISD to receive the incentive payment. Module 3 incentives for teachers who serve multiple campuses will be determined based on the percentage of time teachers serve each campus.

Retirees who complete their contract will be eligible for the incentive payout.

Implementation of the BEST compensation plan is pending the results of the school funding lawsuit and district revenues, though pieces of the plan are already in motion. For example, under Module 2 (Supplements), the board recently approved increasing the stipend for bilingual teachers from $3,500 to $6,000, placing Bryan ISD among the highest-paying districts in the state for bilingual educators.

Future phases of the BEST compensation program are under consideration, including making incentives available for teachers who pursue approved professional development opportunities beyond the scope of their annual training.

* Additional guidelines apply.

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