Teacher Professional and Career Development

Effective organizations place a premium on talent when selecting, developing, and advancing their workforce. States and school districts tend to approach teachers from a one-size-fits-all perspective that inhibits efficient and productive workforce management. Organizing the teacher workforce for efficiency and productivity can best be done with careful management of individual talent and careers. The present practice of professional and career development too frequently fails to differentiate developmental paths for individual teachers. Not only is there a tendency to neglect identifying highly effective teachers for the purpose of retaining, advancing, and placing them in assignments that maximize the impact that they have on student learning, there is also a similar tendency to neglect identification of underperformers. 

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Teacher Preparation and New Teacher Sourcing: One of the greatest points of leverage for improved performance is the investment a state, district, or school makes to ensure that teachers are well prepared. Return on investment can take the form of both increased teacher performance and increased retention of high performing teachers. Programs that are both innovative and designed to achieve long-term increases in educational productivity include those that focus their training model on the key competencies that are necessary for teachers to attain to be effective in the classroom, and use a focus on student outcomes to continuously refine and improve their training. Such models may include residencies or other programs offering a rigorous, clinical experience.

  • The New Teacher Project (TNTP) – The New Teacher Project is a model designed to increase the concentration of highly effective teachers in high-need schools. TNTP recruits, helps place, and trains teachers in these schools. This includes the creation and implementation of an alternative route to certification.
  • Urban Teacher Residency United (UTR) – This consortia of teacher residency programs includes a year-long residency program that combines a classroom apprenticeship with an aligned sequence of master’s-level coursework. Residents are matched with a mentor teacher and, over the course of the residency, progress from a co-teaching role to a lead-teaching role. After completing the residency, graduates of the program continue to serve their district for at least three years and are able to participate in an on-going induction program.

Professional Development: Nearly half of $3.0 billion in federal funding under Title II, Part A, and billions more in other federal funds goes to the professional development of teachers and leaders in our schools. There is little evidence that these expenditures produce an increase in the overall or individual effectiveness of teachers. The development of outcome-based return on investment models can help to assess the efficacy of professional development. Key investments in infrastructure and data will help to support these models and can have long term impact, yet efforts have lagged in this area.

Teacher Evaluation, Talent Management, and Career Development: The current practice of teacher evaluation does not make rigorous distinctions between the highest and lowest performing teachers. States and districts can move to systems that make well-informed decisions based on multiple forms of evidence, including evidence of student learning, to identify both the most effective teachers for advancement, and less effective teachers in need of support. Implementation of rigorous teacher evaluation systems represents a long-term investment in a more productive workforce and will support the development and adoption of new practices in talent management and career development.

State efforts

  • Tennessee – Using funds from the Race to the Top program, this state is developing a teacher evaluation system that is tied to student performance. Under this system, teacher performance ratings will impact both tenure practices and processes to remove ineffective teachers. Half of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on student achievement, while the other half will be based on principal observations.
  • Delaware – Delaware, also using Race to the Top funds, is planning to revamp its teacher evaluation system to tie teacher performance to student achievement and other measures recommended by a workgroup of teachers.

District efforts

  • Pittsburgh Public Schools – In an agreement with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, the school district’s new teacher contract includes a new salary schedule and bonus pay program that are tied to teacher evaluations. This new approach, agreed upon as part of a collective bargaining agreement, places emphasis on teacher performance and student achievement in determining salary. Additional link here.
  • School District of Hillsborough County – This Florida district and the Hillsborough County Association of Teachers have jointly developed a teacher evaluation system that is based on three components: students’ learning gains, ratings by the principal, and ratings by a master teacher holding the position of peer evaluator. The evaluation system is aligned with professional development so that teachers receive the supports that best meet their needs. Additional link here.

Charter Management Organization efforts 

  • Uncommon Schools, Achievement First, and KIPP, in collaboration with the School of Education at Hunter’s College, have created and launched Teacher U, a performance-based teacher training program that helps participants earn a master’s degree. This two-year program was recently approved by the state as its own institute of higher education and renamed the Relay School of Education.

Additional Resources:

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