Transformational practices were identified in the areas of teacher recruitment and retention, differentiated teacher pay, professional development, teacher retirement, leadership development, and organizational supportive conditions. Based on study of the literature and practices both in Oklahoma and beyond, these identified practices have the potential to transform public education, specifically in teacher and leader preparation, recruitment, and retention.
Recruiting and Retaining Effective Teachers, Especially for Critical Areas
Increasing teacher compensation so that it is commensurate with other similar professions is essential to recruiting and retaining teachers. Fullan and Hargreaves (2012) assert that to retain high-quality teachers and teaching, they need to be “thoroughly prepared, continuously developed, properly paid, well networked with each other to maximize their own improvement, and able to make effective judgments together using all their capabilities and experience” (p. 2). States with well-paid teachers and high student achievement include New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Denver provided incentives
Incentives to work in high-needs schools are successful because of the value of the stipend. The district found that teachers were not willing to work in high-needs schools for $1,000, but were more willing to consider it for $2,500. They also found that teachers were not willing to put forth the effort to become certified to teach more demanding subjects unless the value of the stipend was significant (Wiley, Gaertner, Spindler, & Subert, 2010); however, according to the Economic Policy Institute publication (Mishel, Allegretto & Corcoran, 2008):
Raising teacher compensation is a critical component in any strategy to recruit and retain a higher quality teacher workforce if the goal is to affect the broad array of teachers—that is, move the quality of the median teacher. Policies that solely focus on changing the composition of the current compensation levels, such as merit or pay-for-performance schemes, are unlikely to be effective unless they also correct the teacher compensation disadvantage in the labor market. (p. 2)
Denver Classroom Teachers Association and Denver Public Schools
A bargaining agreement in Denver initiated ProComp in 2005, which was designed to link teacher compensation more directly with the district mission. ProComp was introduced in order to recruit and retain high-quality teachers in an attempt to improve student achievement. Award bonuses were instituted for the following: obtaining advanced degrees or certifications, achieving a rating of “proficient” on the teacher evaluation tool, working in a high-needs school, working in a high-needs profession, meeting classroom learning objectives, exceeding student achievement expectations, and working in a school with distinguished student achievement and attendance. Increasing bonuses not only improved retention and effectiveness of teachers, but also gains in student achievement in math and reading were realized. Learn more.
Illinois Grow Your Own Teacher Education Act (GYO)
Illinois enacted legislation to address the need for diversifying the highly qualified teachers’ pipeline, improving teacher retention in low-income schools, recruiting teachers for shortage areas, and increasing community connections by recruiting community-based teachers. First-year evaluation show positive results in the preparation and performance of the GYO teachers (Rasher & Goold, 2010). Learn more.
Oklahoma does not offer competitive pay to all teachers but does provide bonuses, stipends, or differentiated in few instances.
Preparing Effective Teachers
Preservice programs need to be provided in content knowledge and pedagogy while grounded in clinical practice. A recent National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE] report (Snyder & Lit, 2010) stated,
Most educators, however, have not been prepared to apply knowledge of child and adolescent development and learning and are thus not sufficiently able to provide developmentally oriented instruction. If our children, our communities, and our country are to meet their potentials, then teachers need opportunities to learn, practice, and assess their abilities to provide developmentally oriented instruction. The need is urgent and the time is now.
Experts are also calling for more clinical practice and a focus on addressing the 21st Century needs of students and their families.
Bank Street College of Education
Preservice teachers actively engage with their environment, consider a child’s developmental needs, characteristics, and familial and cultural values to create caring, intellectually challenging, and democratic classrooms. They directly engage with the environment of people and the material world and sensitivity to the depth and scope of the reciprocal influence of culture on growth and development through fieldwork, conference groups, and coursework. Learn more.
The University of California at Berkeley’s Developmental Teacher Education [DTE]
The university provides a two-year post-baccalaureate program of sequenced coursework and complementary clinical experiences throughout. The program addresses culture, context, and diversity issues that form the experiential component of the program. Learn more.
Aligning Teacher Certification to Research-based Practices
Teacher preparation and knowledge of teaching and learning, content knowledge, experience, and qualifications measured by teacher licensure all influence teacher effectiveness (NCATE, 2008). Full certification of teachers shows a positive association with student achievement (RMC Corporation, Buck & O’Brien, 2005). In April 2011, the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC), a program of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), released the revised set of model standards for teachers. The standards provide a common knowledge and skill set for all subject areas and grade levels. Learn more.
Network for Transforming Educator Preparation [NTEP]
Seven states have been selected to participate in a two-year InTASC pilot sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers. The states are: Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Washington. Also, seventeen national organizations are supporting the states’ efforts to accelerate change in educator preparation and entry into the profession by helping to communicate with their members and serve as thought partners. Learn more.
Teacher Performance Assessment [edTPA]
This new performance assessment process examines prospective teachers through an intense review of the candidate’s plans, videotapes, student work, and feedback samples. Learn more.
New Mexico’s Three-Tier System
The state-level tiered licensure system has locally aligned on-the-job portfolio-based evaluations modeled after the National Board process. Learn more.
Improving Induction and Mentoring
Those countries whose students have shown growth on the international benchmark assessments provide extensive support to beginning teachers. Beginning teachers need additional time to observe and gain feedback from master teachers, as well as planning and reflection time. Well-selected and well-trained mentors who have time to work intensively with new teachers improve the effectiveness of new teachers (Barlin, 2010). Too often new teachers are assigned to the poorest schools and most challenging classrooms, but strong mentoring programs help close the teacher-quality gap to ensure that all students succeed. Six states—Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, and Utah—require an induction period of greater than two years, typically three (Goldrick, Osta, Barlin, & Burn, 2012).
The state funds support for all new teachers for the first three years of teaching and supports experienced teachers who are new to the state or new to a licensure category during their first year of employment. Learn more.
Providing Comprehensive Professional Development
Evidence-based professional development focuses on subject matter content and pedagogy, actively engaging collective participation, coherence (i.e., is consistent with other professional development as well as the district vision), and ongoing for at least twenty contact hours (Desimone, 2011). School-university partnerships further the education profession and advance equity, shared learning, and community engagement.
National Association for Professional Development Schools [NAPDS]
This national organization supports school-university partnerships that provide collaboration among P-12 and college-university communities to share and build new knowledge that shapes educator leadership and best practice. Learn more.
NCATE model professional development schools [PDSs]
PDSs are similar to teaching hospitals in concept. Teaching is similar to medicine, as both practicing professions require a strong content knowledge and intense clinical preparation. PDSs allow teacher candidates to work closely with inservice faculty to increase professional learning in a real-world setting in which practice takes place. NCATE has selected a set of schools to test their new standards. Learn more.
Recruiting, Preparing, Mentoring, and Retaining Effective School Leaders
A study conducted by Darling-Hammond et al. (2007) identified several exemplary leadership development preservice programs that coupled with ongoing district-based professional development. The study concluded that effective school leadership requires a range of practices that may be mediated by the personnel themselves, the organizational context, as well as the school community.
Started in the 1990s, the University of Connecticut’s Administrator Preparation Program (UCAPP) provides expanded field experiences with graduate coursework. The preparation program engages principal candidates in data-driven decisions and evidence-based classroom observations. Some candidates receive additional intensive professional development in reform leadership from Hartford (CT) Public School District as supported by the University of Pittsburgh. This program has expanded into other districts. Connecticut has been successful in school reform as a state and has supported preservice leadership development and district inservice principal development, especially in urban areas. Hartford schools have shown improved test scores and have successfully filled high-need leadership positions.
New York City Region 1
The Principals Institute at Bank Street College (NY) partnered with Region 1 of the NYC Public Schools to develop a continuum of leadership preparation that moves school leaders through preservice, induction, and inservice support. The leadership experiences focus on improved teaching and learning that is linked to the district’s instructional reforms. The continuum of support provided complementary and increasingly integrated leadership preparation and development programs and strategies. The state of New York has overhauled its standards for leadership programs, which has resulted in substantial program reforms as well. The partnership of Bank Street College in Region 1 has resulted in improvements in student achievement and decreased the shortage of principal candidates in the area.
Jefferson County, Kentucky
Since the 1980s, Jefferson County (KY) Public Schools and the University of Louisville have partnered to offer a supportive leadership development program tailored to the needs of principals working in the district. The program provides a set of leadership development opportunities that address the needs of the district’s principals and includes a continuum of preservice to ongoing inservice support. Recently, this partnership focused on developing a pathway from the classroom to the principalship. The state of Kentucky has enacted wide-reaching reforms through the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) of 1989, which provides a supportive culture for sustained professional development for school leaders. Jefferson County believes that the leadership development programs are a key variable in school improvement investing significant resources into the programs, resulting in improvement on state tests that outpaces its Kentucky peers.
San Diego, California
The Educational Leadership Development Academy (ELDA) at the University of San Diego and the San Diego (CA) Unified School District through a school-university partnership provide a continuum of leadership preparation and professional development. The continuum of support focuses on district instructional reform through internships and coaching/networking. This school-university partnership emphasizes not only the development of principals as instructional leaders, but also the development of teachers as instructional experts. The program provides highly coherent efforts in the areas of principal and teacher recruitment, evaluation, and professional development focused on instructional improvement. California is an extremely diverse state with a standards-based reform agenda but has experienced many fiscal and educational programs and philosophy challenges. Graduates of the ELDA improved the quality of teaching and learning in their schools, and veteran principals who participated in the intensive professional development were becoming stronger instructional leaders.
Sustaining the Teacher Retirement System
The state was one of just two states to fully fund its public employee pension in 2009, emerging as a leader in managing its liabilities for both pension and health benefits over the long term. Still, the overall state budget in Wisconsin is strained. Learn more.
Starting in 2002, Florida has allowed teachers to choose between a defined benefit and a defined contribution plan. Learn more.
Public Employees’ Retirement Association of Colorado [PERAC]
This hybrid plan provides retirement benefits to Colorado public school teachers and serves as a substitute for Social Security for most public employees. Working members contribute a fixed percentage of their salary to pre-fund the benefits, while the employer also contributes (PERAC, 2013). Learn more.
Creating Supportive Organizational Conditions
A growing body of research supports a collective capacity-building approach to school reform (USDE, 2013).
Nashville, Tennessee. Rather than focus on the development of individual skills of educators, the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) takes systemic approach, focusing on capacity building with intensive professional development and showing improved teaching and learning. Learn more.
Lancaster County, Texas
In 2009, the Southwest Educational Development Lab [SEDL] began working with the Lancaster School District on implementing a job-embedded process based on best practices in professional development and school improvement. The process is a systematic approach that includes professional collaboration, the use of data, alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and monitoring of student learning. The process also establishes leadership support systems for continuous school improvement. Teachers began to collaboratively plan standards-based lessons and share instructional practices. Teachers collectively analyzed student work and shared differentiation strategies. These structures changed the culture in the schools, teachers began to accept collective responsibility for student learning, and conversations changed to focus on student needs. Learn more.