Evaluation of Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation Program

The Iowa Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) system was designed to provide career pathways and compensation structures to attract, retain, and reward effective teachers; to promote continuous improvement in Iowa’s teaching workforce; and to increase student academic achievement. With TLC funds from the Iowa Department of Education, districts implemented new and revised teacher leadership roles and teacher professional development approaches intended to strengthen classroom instruction and student learning. TLC was launched in three cohorts beginning with the 2014–15 school year. As of 2017–18, all 333 districts in Iowa received TLC funds.

The Department contracted AIR to evaluate TLC. The evaluation was designed to inform Iowa education leaders and policymakers about the progress of the TLC initiative and its effectiveness in meeting its goals.

The first brief highlights findings from early implementation of the TLC program and interim findings on student achievement outcomes, based on data from 2014–15 and 2015–16. The second brief updates the findings on implementation and reports findings for teacher retention and student achievement outcomes, based on data from 2014–15 through 2016–17 data. These briefs draw on implementation data collected by AIR from teacher and administrator surveys, interviews, and focus groups and analysis of state data for teacher and student outcomes.

Teacher and administrator input on TLC implementation was generally consistent with expected progress in implementation of the program’s services. Iowa educators overall held favorable views of the TLC program, with views becoming more favorable over time. Large majorities of teachers and administrators perceived that TLC is effective for improving instruction and professional climate. Teacher retention and student achievement from the first 3 years of program implementation indicated that the program had not resulted in substantial change, on average. It may take more time to observe any effects of TLC-related supports on outcomes like student achievement and teacher retention.

The third brief presents findings on promising TLC implementation strategies, based on case studies of six purposefully selected Iowa school districts. AIR identified 14 general strategies perceived to be effective by school and district administrators, instructional coaches, and other teacher leaders who participated in the evaluation. Findings revealed that shared decision making, supports for coaches, and school-based professional development facilitated successful TLC implementation. Respondents reported broadly favorable perspectives on TLC and benefits for teacher professional development and instruction, indicating that TLC was being established and adopted in these districts as envisioned by Iowa leaders.

Image of Ryan Williams
Principal Researcher