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Arizona Ready-for-Rigor Project awards $1.2M to K-12 educators

December 13, 2011

The Arizona Ready-for-Rigor Project is distributing more than $1.2 million to almost 500 teachers and educators at 17 schools in 10 Arizona school districts participating in the first annual wave of performance-based compensation. This program is part of the five-year $43.8 million U.S. Department of Education Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant being administered by ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

This competitive program provides performance-based compensation to Arizona teachers and school administrators based on effectiveness ratings generated through personnel or employee evaluations, student achievement scores, and overall school scores.

Performance-based compensation amounts are differentiated, awarding higher incentives to teachers and principals evidencing higher effectiveness ratings via their multiple evaluation measures, and student scoring based on their AIMS results. The project works in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Education to collect and interpret these data.

For the 2010-2011 academic year, $1,195,177 was distributed to 470 teachers. Individual payouts varied, based on the teachers performance scores, ranging from zero to $9,040; the average pay-out was $2,541. Additionally, 23 administrators (principals and assistant principals) in these districts earned a total of $50,707.

“Highly effective teachers and principals receive monetary rewards for their positive impact on student growth in reading and mathematics,” says Virginia McElyea, executive director of the Arizona Ready-for-Rigor Project. “This incentive is one factor that sustains a culture focused on students’ achievement in a school.”

All teachers and educators, including principals, who participate in the program are provided mentors for personal assistance, and training and developmental advancement through the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement. TAP is coordinated in partnership with the National Institute of Excellence in Teaching.

The 17 schools in the first wave of the project are from the following Arizona school districts: Cedar, Douglas, Gadsden, Ganado, Glendale, Mesa, Osborn, Sunnyside, UPSI and Window Rock. For the 2011-2012 academic year, the project has expanded to nearly 50 schools in 12 districts. More than 1,500 teachers are now involved, impacting 25,000 students.

The Ready-for-Rigor Project aims to develop and implement a performance-based compensation system in historically struggling schools for the purpose of increasing student achievement, retaining highly-effective educators, and fostering exemplary school culture in the highest-need communities across Arizona. To learn more about this project, and other grants involving the ASU Teachers College, please visit  

ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is unique among education schools – we are nationally known for our innovative and successful teacher preparation programs, the quality of our graduates and the strength of our school partnerships. Consistently ranked as a top graduate program by U.S. News & World Report, we are a force for discovery, helping to shape students into progressive leaders who will impact the future.