Improving teacher quality in college preparatory courses has great potential to raise rural Idaho students’ low college enrollment rate. Only 80 percent of rural Idaho students graduate from high school—and only 51 percent enroll in college. One critical factor contributing to low college-going rates in Idaho is the lack of rigorous preparation students need to succeed in college and career. In this paper written for the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho, Public Impact examines the challenges that prevent rural schools from providing great teaching, and presents four strategies for increasing access to highly effective instruction in rural Idaho. Through a combination of grow-your-own preparation programs, customized teacher recruitment strategies, innovative approaches to extending the reach of excellent teachers, and blended online and in-person methods for teacher training, Idaho can improve teacher quality in college preparatory courses.
Recruit, Select, and Keep Education Talent
In an article for School Administrator magazine, Sharon Kebschull Barrett, senior editor at Public Impact, examines how districts can attract rock star teachers, especially to hard-to-staff schools and subjects. Four districts that implemented the Opportunity Culture model—Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Cabarrus County, N.C., Syracuse, N.Y., and Nashville, Tenn.—have found a way to keep great teachers in the classroom and reach more students, offering leadership opportunities, on-the-job training and higher pay. These districts now receive a significant number of high-quality applicants each year, allowing for selectivity in positions that once went unfilled.
What brings excellent teachers in droves to apply for jobs in hard-to-staff schools? Project L.I.F.T. in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District started by offering a complete Opportunity Culture package of career advancement roles, then advertised those roles early, often, and clearly—leading to a strong uptick in both the quantity and quality of applicants for teaching roles at schools that previously saw many positions go unfilled. L.I.F.T. leaders explain how they did it in this brief vignette, with an accompanying video of principals and district leaders sharing how an Opportunity Culture attracts great teachers.
In the U.S., STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—face urgent needs for great STEM teachers and well-educated students. An Opportunity Culture can help by extending the reach of excellent STEM teachers already in our schools and creating a teaching profession that attracts and retains these teachers through higher pay, within regular budgets, and multiple advancement opportunities. The Education Leaders’ Brief summarizes the grim facts about STEM employment and learning in the U.S. today, emerging efforts to stem the shortage of skilled teachers, and how an Opportunity Culture can help. The companion slide deck provides more statistics and graphics to explain the huge need for more and better STEM teachers; how to attract and retain great STEM teachers; and how to extend the reach of the excellent STEM teachers we already have, paying them much more within regular budgets, and giving them opportunities to lead and develop peers on the job.
In this report for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Public Impact takes an in-depth look at principal hiring practices in five urban districts. Despite making improvements, our primary finding is that principal hiring practices continue to fall short of what is needed, effectively causing needy schools to lose out on leaders with the potential to be great. So what to do? Districts must improve their hiring practices to take a more active approach to principal recruitment, evaluate candidates against the competencies and skills that successful principals are known to possess, carefully design a placement process that matches schools’ needs with candidates’ strengths, and continually evaluate hiring efforts to ensure that they are effectively recruiting, selecting, and placing the leaders that schools depend on for success. Our research also suggests that better hiring practices alone are only part of the solution; districts must also re-imagine the principal’s role so that it is a job that talented leaders want and are equipped to execute successfully. See the companion infographic for a quick summary.
This two-page report speaks directly to excellent teachers and those aspiring to excellence to introduce the concepts of an Opportunity Culture and its benefits for teachers and staff, explaining why they should advocate for new school models and policies that support an Opportunity Culture. A related slide presentation for school and district leaders, with speaker notes or without, helps them explain what teaching and learning could look like in an Opportunity Culture.
This report for the University of Virginia’s Partnership for Leaders in Education explores lessons about when and how organizations in other sectors import leaders – including how they tempt people away, train them, and foster their success – to inform efforts by state and local leaders to import talent for failing schools. One of the biggest challenges in education today is identifying talented candidates to successfully lead turnarounds of persistently low-achieving schools. [Read more…]