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Arizona Career Ladder
Arizona : Arizona Career Ladder -State Level
Program Statistics
Name and Level Arizona Career Ladder Program

The Arizona Career Ladder is a state funded program implemented at the district level. Districts in the career ladder program had to apply to become a part of the program with 28 of the 200 plus school districts in Arizona now participating.

Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

Status Arizona Career Ladder Program

This program is ongoing. Twenty-eight districts currently participate in the Career Ladder program. Fourteen were phased-in over three years beginning FY 1985-86. In 1990, the Career Ladder Program received “permanent” legislative status as a result of demonstration of higher student achievement in Career Ladder districts. Seven districts received approval to budget for a program beginning in FY 1992-93 and seven districts began participation in FY 1993-94. There has been no new funding appropriation for additional district participation since FY 93-94.

Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

Program Description Arizona Career Ladder Program

The Arizona Career Ladder Program is a performance-based compensation plan that provides incentives to teachers in 28 districts statewide that choose to make career advancements without leaving the classroom or the profession. The participating districts are required to comply with requirements established in A.R.S. §15-918. While the state requires that a number of basic elements be included in the local plan, each district may develop specific details that meet its unique needs. In order to ensure compliance in all areas, the State Career Ladder Advisory Committee annually reviews each district plan. The State Board of Education provides final program approval. ADE staff provides technical assistance to district personnel in the administration of their programs.

  • 28 of the state’s 200-plus districts participate in the Career Ladder Program
  • Approximately 31% of the state’s 865,000 students attend schools in Career Ladder districts
  • Approximately 40% of the state’s 43,000 teachers are employed in Career Ladder districts
  • Approximately 70% of eligible teachers participate in the Career Ladder Program

Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

Other Programs Classroom Site Fund (resulting from Proposition 301)

In November 2000, voters approved Proposition 301, which increased the State’s sales tax from 5 percent to 5.6 percent to provide additional monies for educational programs. A large percentage of this is distributed to school districts, charter schools, and state schools.

A major component of this proposition is known as the Classroom Site fund (CSF) and requires that all districts participate in some form of performance pay for teachers. Twenty percent of the CSF funds must be spent on increasing teachers' base salaries and forty percent of the CSF monies must be used for performance pay. Most school districts have developed new performance pay plans with input from board members, administrators, teachers, principals, and parents.

Most districts are using student achievement as the primary measure of teacher performance, combining it with other measures.

Other diversified teacher compensation programs fall under the Optional Performance Incentive program. Criteria and definitions are outlined in Arizona Revised Statutes; ARS §15-919

Enabling Policy: ARS §15-977

Hard-to-Staff, High Needs, At-Risk Component
Program Target Components
  • No hard-to-staff, high needs or at-risk component found
  • Description of Component Arizona Career Ladder Program

    No information found.

    Incentive Structure
    Compensation Structure Arizona Career Ladder Program

    The Career Ladder Program consists of levels, each having its own salary range. Placement on the Career Ladder is based on more than one measure of teacher performance. The areas of instructional performance, pupil academic progress, and instructional responsibilities must be included. Advancement to higher levels on the Career Ladder is gained by demonstrating increasingly higher levels of performance.

    Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

    Incentives Arizona Career Ladder Program

    Incentives include higher salaries for higher levels of placement on the Career Ladder. Teachers qualify for incentives through:

    • Evaluation or classroom performance,
    • Student progress, and
    • Additional responsibility for a particular place within each level.
    Each district constructs its own “ladder” and places teachers according to their performance.

    Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

    Incentive Recipients Arizona Career Ladder Program

    Individual teachers are eligible to receive incentives. The program also allows districts to apply to implement an additional incentive program for other personnel at the school district level and provides awards based upon group, team, school or district.

    Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

    Methods of Evaluation
    Method of Evaluation Arizona Career Ladder Program

    Career Ladder districts must comply with requirements established in Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS §15-918). All plans include the following criteria for evaluating teachers:

    • Classroom observations,
    • Pupil academic growth, and, at the highest rung,
    • Increased responsibilities.
    Local performance criteria vary across participating districts, but the plans include both individual- and group- based awards, and they typically reward some combination of the following:
    • Professional development,
    • Teaching quality,
    • Use of innovative methods,
    • Parent satisfaction, and
    • Student performance.
    Arizona Revised Statutes require that the system must evaluate the teacher in terms of individual pupil progress rather than absolute performance so that gains in student learning are recognized and rewarded. Teachers with less than three years of experience in the Career Ladder program must be evaluated at least twice a year and teachers with three or more years experience must be evaluated at least once a year.

    Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

    Stakeholder Involvement
    Teachers and Teacher's Unions Arizona Career Ladder Program

    Legislation requires that all new teachers in Career Ladder districts be evaluated for placement on the Career Ladder. Once evaluated, new teachers may choose not to participate for the following year. Teachers not choosing to participate in the Career Ladder Program remain on the district’s traditional salary schedule.

    Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

    Other Stakeholders Arizona Career Ladder Program

    The state board of education is responsible to establish a state career ladder advisory committee with the following duties:

    1. Provide recommendations to the state board on matters related to the implementation, operation and monitoring of career ladder programs in this state's school districts.
    2. Develop criteria for the additional incentive components allowed pursuant to section 15-918.02, subsection B subject to the approval of the state board of education.
    3. Oversee and administer the optional performance incentive programs in this state's school districts pursuant to this article.

    The advisory committee consists of no more than fifteen members and is composed of representatives from the educational, business and general community. No more than one-third of the members of the advisory committee may represent districts which have been authorized to budget for a career ladder program.

    The state board of education appoints the members of the advisory committee for staggered three year terms. Vacancies are filled for an unexpired term in the same manner as original appointments. The advisory committee annually elects a chair and vice-chair.

    Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

    Program Funding
    Cost Arizona Career Ladder Program

    State appropriated funding is derived by a formula based primarily on student count.

    At full implementation, districts may increase their base funding level by 5.5%. All member district programs are currently budgeted at the 5.5% level.

    Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

    Funding Arizona Career Ladder Program

    Career Ladder is paid through local property taxes and state appropriations from the general fund.

    State appropriated funding is derived by a formula based primarily on student count. At full implementation, districts may increase their base funding level by 5.5%. Based on compliance with requirements, funding levels have progressed from 1.0%, to 5.5% above the base support level. All Career Ladder district programs are currently budgeted at the 5.5% level. A portion of this funding is derived from a local tax. High school or common school district tax rate is based on two cents for each percentage increase. The unified district tax rate is based on four cents for each percentage increase.

    Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918

    Results and Outcomes
    Results and Outcomes Arizona Career Ladder Program

    Proven Results:

    • Documented higher achievement in Career Ladder Districts,
    • Recognized by US News and World Report as one of ten innovative programs accountable for true educational systemic reform,
    • Recipient of the National Council of States Award.

    Enabling Policy: ARS §15:918




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