A+ Colorado Testimony – Supporting SB 20-066: Highly Effective Teachers And Low-performing Schools

Good afternoon Chairman Foote, Vice Chair Fields, and members of the committee,

I’m Katie Martinez, the Director of Communications and Engagement from A+ Colorado, a research organization committed to improving public education for Colorado’s students. I’m here with my colleague Lisa Berdie, Vice President of Policy and Research.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak in favor of Senate Bill 66, Highly Effective Teachers And Low-performing Schools, today. Teachers are the single most important in-school factor that impacts students. Having great teachers is critical for our students to succeed in school. We believe that compensation is an important part of supporting our teachers, and our students.

We strongly advocate for increasing compensation for teachers. In education, it is also crucial that we target the limited resources we have to the students who need them most. That is why we support this bill.

We are testifying today because research supports the effectiveness of targeted financial incentives. Specifically, incentives associated with attracting and retaining teachers in hard-to-staff positions and in schools with high turnover. Several studies have found a significant impact of incentives on both attraction and retention of teachers, with the greatest impact on retention.

We also see this reflected in Denver Public Schools, where in-school retention of teachers in Denver’s highest priority schools increased by 6 percentage points after the district implemented incentives for teachers in those schools in 2015. In a survey by DPS, 25% of teachers in high priority schools were extremely unlikely or unlikely to still be working in that school without the incentive.

The 70,000 students in our lowest performing schools deserve just as much access to high quality educators and returning teachers, as students in higher performing schools. But that’s just not the case today. The median teacher turnover rate in school districts that were identified amongst the state’s lowest performing was 23% in 2019. That is much higher than the median rate of 16% in districts that were accredited or accredited with distinction.

Nearly half of teachers in turnaround schools have less than 5 years of experience. In schools with a “performance plan”, the state’s highest rating, about half of teachers have at least 10 years of experience. This bill is an important step to attract and retain quality and experienced teachers in the schools that need it most.

A+ Colorado hopes you will consider targeting resources to our most vulnerable students, schools, and families by acting on this information and creating incentives for educators in our highest priority schools across the state. Thank you for your time.