District 11 prepares for Q Comp to take flight this fall

Like a crew anticipating a flight through uncharted skies, Kim Pavlovich and Todd Mensink navigate the airways, check the instruments and fine tune the aircraft.

The plane: Quality Compensation Program and Professional Development for Teachers, commonly known as Q Comp, a program enacted through a bipartisan agreement in the Minnesota Legislature in July 2005.

The destination: Highly effective teachers educating students to their highest potential.

A couple of years ago, after failing an initial vote to climb on board, Anoka-Hennepin School District teachers voted again and decided to approve the Q Comp program, which will be fully implemented during the 2013-2014 school year.

During the current school year, Pavlovich and Mensink are doing the planning, the refining and the fine tuning of the program so that it is custom designed for Anoka-Hennepin.

“This is a system focused on instruction for job-embedded staff development, for goal setting, for providing structure for achievement,” said Mensink, a teacher on special assignment as teacher coordinator for Q Comp.

Pavlovich, a principal on special assignment as administrator for Q Comp, agreed, saying, “This has a focus on professional growth and refining our practices.”

Highlights of the Q Comp plan include:

• Providing financial incentives for teachers to improve their skills.

• Establishing greater accountability through consistent evaluations.

• Reinforcing student achievement through pay-for-performance.

• Rewarding teachers for meeting building- and classroom-level achievement goals.

• Fostering the best teacher practices through job-embedded professional development.

• Modifying movement through the salary schedule, based on years of service, to be based on successful completion of the Q Comp evaluation process.

Three incentives are incorporated in to the Q Comp program. Those incentives are:

• Schoolwide goal incentive of $210 based on standardized MCA test data.

• Student achievement goal incentive of $210 based on student data.

• Observation goal incentive of $1,728, which is achieved when teachers successfully complete three classroom observation cycles.

To fine tune the program for District 11, Pavlovich and Mensink have visited neighboring school districts which have had Q Comp in place for some half-a-dozen years.

“It is very strongly supported by teachers in those school districts where Q Comp is already in place,” Pavlovich said. “Our program is the best of those we’ve seen. We’ve put the best together and custom designed it for District 11.”

Implementing Q Comp in the school district comes at a cost, of course, but since it is a Minnesota Department of Education-approved school district, Anoka-Hennepin receives up to $260 per student ($169 per student in state aid and $91 per student in a board-approved levy) to do just that.

Some of that cost comes before the program is implemented since as part of Q Comp prep, 30 full-time peer evaluators, representing as many of Anoka-Hennepin’s instructional areas, programs and levels as possible, have been hired for the coming school year.

The Q Comp program calls for evaluation of teachers’ performances by their peers. It is believed that feedback from peer evaluators helps teachers to improve their practice, which would in turn increase student achievement.

“Our evaluators were chosen because they are well respected teachers, good listeners and have the ability to generate reflective thinking,” Pavlovich said.

However, before evaluating their peers, the peer evaluators will undergo intensive training this fall, and training for teacher coaches will also be conducted this fall.

Pavlovich and Mensink also state that Q Comp is aligned with Anoka-Hennepin’s performance appraisal system.

Work left to be done this year has Pavlovich and Mensink developing a web-based data management system, planning an all staff “introduction to Q Comp” during workshop week in August and facilitating the development of observation protocols in all instructional areas for all levels.

The Q Comp leaders are also working to align Anoka-Hennepin Q Comp site goals with the district’s SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) process. And they are working to integrate the 2014-2015 Minnesota Department of Education teacher evaluation requirement into Q Comp.

Before the current school year ends, Pavlovich and Mensink are determined to visit all of Anoka-Hennepin’s buildings, describing the Q Comp program and welcoming questions and conversation about the program.

“We’ve heard really positive things about Q Comp,” Mensink said. “Teachers are excited, not just because they like the incentive money, but they think it’s a very valuable program.”

And Pavlovich described the deep incorporation of the program into the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

“Q Comp has tentacles that reach into every piece of the district,” she said. “We want it to be fully imbedded in the district to make it as effective as possible.”

For more information about Q Comp, visit anoka.k12.mn.us and search for “Q Comp” or visit education.state.mn.us/MDE/SchSup/QComp.

Sue Austreng is at [email protected]