Independent School District 15-St. Francis

Independent School District 15-St. Francis

Independent School District 15 in St. Francis, Minn., is a rural school system located approximately 40 miles from St. Paul and Minneapolis. St. Francis supports and evaluates educators using the Student Performance Improvement Program. SPIP was established in 2005 with funding from the Minnesota Quality Compensation for Teachers program (Q Comp).

Q Comp finances voluntary collaborations proposed by school districts and teacher representatives that include the following components: career ladder and advancement options, job-embedded professional development, teacher evaluation, performance pay, and alternative salary structures. According to an independent study by Hezel Associates, LLC in 2009, Q Comp programs such as SPIP positively affect teacher performance and student achievement.

St. Francis ISD utilized Q Comp support to expand its existing Teacher Academy, an effort that began in 2000 between the local board and union to enhance teacher quality and professional development. The collaborative nature of both the Teacher Academy and SPIP reflect the ongoing partnerships and stability of leadership that have emerged in St. Francis. Superintendent Edward Saxton has served as a school and district administrator in St. Francis since 1995, while 34-year teaching veteran Randy Keillor has held leadership positions in the local union and has coordinated both the Teacher Academy and SPIP.

According to a 2010 report from the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, 90 percent of St. Francis' teachers chose to participate in SPIP, 50 percent of faculty mentor new teachers, and 20 percent of teachers receive compensation for additional leadership roles. A new educator participating in SPIP can reach the top of the salary schedule in as few as eight years.

SPIP facilitates collaboration at multiple levels. School and district committees engage in issues related to professional development, curriculum, and student achievement. Under SPIP, student performance is connected to individual teacher evaluations and is also a factor in the awarding of school-wide bonuses based on academic targets. In the first four years of SPIP implementation, fifth- through ninth-grade students have improved their performance from the national average to exceeding achievement expectations by one year.

In a Jan. 23, 2010, editorial in the Star Tribune, SPIP Coordinator Keillor observed, "Q Comp provides a golden opportunity to leave our profession better than we found it."

student achievement graph

Data at a glance:
Total students 5,844
Total certified teachers309
Total full-time staff812
Number of schools9
Enrollment, by race/ethnicity
—White: 93%
—Asian: 3%
—Black: 2%
—American Indian/Alaskan Native: 2%
Students eligible for free and reduced-price meals28%
English learners2%
Graduation rate 97%


Harry Grams, Vice Chair of School Board, Independent School District 15-St. Francis
Jim Hennesy, Teacher and Union President, Education Minnesota St. Francis Local 1977
Randy Keillor, Student Performance Improvement Program Coordinator, Independent School District 15-St. Francis
Edward Saxton, Superintendent, Independent School District 15-St. Francis


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