EdNC, March 4, 2019, by Analisa Sorrells
After recruiting, training, and inducting a teacher, what does it take to keep them in the classroom? Answering that question was the focus of the Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education during its meeting last week. The commission heard from teachers, principals, district leaders, and policy experts about first-hand experiences with teacher retention, the research behind retaining high quality teachers, and six districts that are piloting advanced teaching roles and career pathways.
Created by Gov. Cooper in 2017, the commission has been working since Nov. 2017 to determine what it will take for North Carolina to meet its constitutional commitment of providing equal educational opportunity to all students. According to litigation in the decades-long Leandro case, part of that commitment is staffing every classroom with a “competent, certified, well-trained teacher” who provides “differentiated, individualized instruction, assessment and remediation” to students. In previous meetings, the commission addressed teacher preparation and recruitment, along with other aspects related to the Leandro commitment like school funding, early childhood education, the principal pipeline, and school support personnel.
In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Success by Design [Charlotte’s term for Opportunity Culture] offers professional development and advanced roles for teacher-leaders and school-leaders. The program funds roles with existing resources by exchanging vacant teacher positions for advanced teaching roles or using Title I funding. By using resources that schools already have at their disposal, the project is more sustainable than it would be if it was grant-funded.
In the 2018-19 school year, 40 schools participated in the program with 184 teacher-leaders and 55 multi-classroom teachers supporting another 311 teachers. The grant funding supports professional development opportunities for current teacher-leaders, candidates in the talent pool, administrative staff from Success by Design schools, and district leaders.
Melissa Stormont, program manager for Success by Design, said having class size waivers is a huge asset to the program.
“Without having the ability to have larger classes, we wouldn’t be able to do this. We are getting good teachers in as front of as many students as possible,” said Stormont.
Edgecombe County Public Schools implemented Opportunity Culture, an initiative of Public Impact. The Opportunity Culture advanced teaching roles in the district include multi-classroom leaders, expanded impact teachers, and reach associates, each of which have increased responsibilities in the school and receive salary supplements. As with Success by Design, these roles are funded through the existing school budget by trading in vacancies and using Title I funds.
“The thing I’m most excited about early in this process is the transformation we’re seeing of school culture. It’s changing the way teachers teach, it’s changing the way we look at data, it’s changing the way we open our classrooms,” said Erin Swanson, director of innovation for Edgecombe County Public Schools. “We’re seeing that innovation is possible, innovation isn’t as scary as people once thought it was, and I think that’s really helping us move things forward in Edgecombe.”