Performance Pay No Deterrent to Teacher Hiring in Denver

In 2005 voters in Denver approved the funding for ProComp, a teacher performance pay system. Back when the system was being hotly debated, I wondered if the real issue was how performance pay would affect teacher recruitment and retention. Teacher resignations spiked upwards after the program was authorized by all parties, including the teachers’ union, but we can now see from Census figures that Denver had no problem finding K-12 teachers.

During the period 2006 to 2011 the teacher workforce in Denver increased 17.8 percent, even though enrollment only climbed 8.3 percent. And although spending growth was below the state average, Denver was still by far the highest spending of the state’s 25 largest districts.

Comparably sized Jefferson County had a small decrease in students, and a 1.8 percent increase in teachers.

Overall, districts in Colorado were able to keep hiring in line with burgeoning enrollment, although per-pupil spending growth suffered relative to the national average. Three of the 10 largest districts (Douglas County, Colorado Springs and Poudre) actually showed negative growth over those five years.