Evaluation of Iowa’s Pay-for-Performance and Career-Ladder Pilot Program

In 2007, the Iowa Legislature instituted a pay-for-performance and career-ladder pilot program in which teachers in three districts were rewarded for taking on additional professional roles and responsibilities (career ladder) or for teacher or student performance (pay for performance).

AIR evaluators conducted a formative and summative analysis of the program designed to assess these pilot practices to inform future decision making on larger scale implementation. The evaluation team examined the program’s benefits, its cost effectiveness, participants’ perceptions of the project, and the feasibility of expansion. To gather consistent information across a wide group of participants and nonparticipants, the evaluators administered a series of online surveys of participating teachers and administrators as well as a randomly selected sample of teachers and administrators not participating in the pilots. To provide more depth, case studies, which included face-to-face and telephone interviews with key pilot administrators, teachers, and other program staff as well as reviews of key program documents were conducted in participating schools. In addition, the research team conducted a correlational analysis of student data to explore any connection between the pilot program and student achievement outcomes.