- A Playbook for Building Common Core Support Among Teachers - October 8, 2014
- Shifting Our Mindset Around Teacher Evaluations - September 3, 2014
- A Profession for My Generation - August 19, 2014
- The Difference Between Calculation and Mathematics - August 5, 2014
- Four Little Tips to Transform Your Classroom - August 5, 2014
- Just the Facts: Charter High School Performance in Memphis, TN - July 30, 2014
- Tennessee Education's Perception Problem - July 9, 2014
- Irrational Fears Prevent Real Common Core Progress - June 30, 2014
- Performance Based Tests Take the Guesswork Out of Assessing - June 4, 2014
- Teaching and the Off-Season - May 27, 2014
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One of my colleagues, we’ll call her Sharon (not her real name), taught for two years in a high performing charter, and she loved it. Whenever we got together, all I’d hear was about how fantastic Sharon’s kids were and about all the amazing things they were doing in the classroom. And this wasn’t just talk. Sharon was good. Really good. This is from her former principal, colleagues and students. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out Sharon was leaving the classroom to become a teacher coach. When I asked her why, she told me she was looking for a new challenge and the ability to spread her impact beyond her own classroom.
We call teachers like Sharon irreplaceables, that is, educators that have such a tremendous impact on their students that we cannot afford for them to leave the classroom. We need these teachers in front of our students to ensure the type of outcomes we all want for our children. However, more often than not we find very low concentrations of irreplaceable teachers. In Tennessee, only 28.2 percent of teachers in low-poverty schools are considered irreplaceable by evaluations and test scores. That number drops to 16.2 percent when we look at high poverty schools.
And if this is not cause enough for alarm, teachers like Sharon are leaving the classroom at an alarming rate. The New Teacher Project estimates that 47 percent of all irreplaceable teachers currently teaching will leave their schools within the next five years. They often cite poor working conditions and a lack of efforts to retain them as the cause for their departure. Additionally, when these teachers depart they are often replaced by lower quality colleagues rather than other irreplaceables.
We need to design smarter policies in both Tennessee and Memphis to both retain our irreplaceable teachers in the classroom AND attract new high performing teachers like Sharon to our system. We can also work to ensure that they are attracted to the schools where they are needed the most. If we fail to do so, all the education reform efforts in the world won’t make a difference.
In Memphis, we have an unprecedented opportunity to both identify and target irreplaceable teachers for retention for three reasons. First, we have a comprehensive classroom observation system in place to help identify these educators based on classroom practices. This type of data has already been correlated with higher teaching ability, notably in Cincinnati’s evaluation system. We also incorporate stakeholder perceptions through the TRIPOD survey, adding yet another strong identifier to help target irreplaceables.
Second, we have a data system in TVAAS that has been in operation for 20 plus years. High While value-added data is not perfect and does not cover all teachers, this data can and should play a role in helping identify these educators. We can also use this data to evaluate whole schools and identify not only effective educators, but effective administrators as well.
Third, our state board of education just passed new guidelines to allow us more freedom with how we pay teachers in our city. While compensation is typically lower on the list of reasons that educators leave the classroom, it does play a role in educators decisions. Moreover, tying compensation to reforms like career ladders for educators will increase the impact that a differentiated pay plan will have in recruiting and retaining these top educators.
It’s a simple fact that we cannot afford to lose classroom teachers like Sharon. We need them where they can make the most impact in front of our kids. This post marks the first in a 6 part series on Growing our Irreplaceable educators through innovative policies to recruit new irreplaceables to come teach in our schools and keep those we already have. Check back over the next few weeks to learn about research based ideas for how we can improve the quality of our educators here in Memphis and Shelby County!
Post originally appeared on Bluffcityed.com on 10/25/13[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]