Getting the Pieces Right: Professional Development, Compensation, and School-Wide Performance

Getting the Pieces Right is the study of the Teacher Incentive Performance Award (TIPA) initiative in Virginia’s Prince William County Public Schools. A $10.9 million, five-year program supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund, TIPA sought to increase student achievement in PWCS’s 30 lowest performing schools by focusing intensively on instructional improvement.

Findings show that TIPA led to statistically significant increases in student achievement in all four core subjects analyzed as measured by Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) test results. TIPA’s processes greatly increased collaboration and instructional dialogue among principals and teachers and strengthened the use of data to inform instruction.

This five-year study describes how TIPA provided incentives that fostered collaborative school-wide improvement efforts. The initiative provided “real time,” tailored professional development to teachers and customized leadership development to the 30 TIPA principals. It implemented a performance-based compensation system combining student growth and achievement measures with 23 measures of school effectiveness, such as positive school culture, effective parent engagement, and teacher leadership. And it awarded school-based compensation bonuses, with administrators/teachers in core subjects eligible for the largest awards.