Re: Recruiting and Retaining Effective Teachers
By: Leah Brunski, Michele Cleary, Teresa Ranieri, and Lexie Woo, Policy Fellows with the New York Educator Voice Fellowship

PROBLEM

The majority of New York's low-income and minority students attend high-needs schools, where they are more likely than their affluent peers within the same district to be placed with an ineffective teacher. These schools need support and funding to better recruit and retain effective teachers.

SOLUTION

To address this problem, a two-pronged approach is suggested:

  1. Recruiting: Provide funding to college- and university-based teacher preparation programs to create or expand residency programs.

  2. Retaining: Provide funding to districts with high-need schools to develop career pathways for effective and highly-effective educators.

BACKGROUND

Teacher turnover is a problem in New York State in general, but it is particularly pronounced in high-poverty schools [1]. In these schools, teacher turnover is almost 70% greater than it is in other public schools and it is three times as likely that students will be taught by a first year teacher [2]. It is crucial to schools to retain their most effective teachers because teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling, including services, facilities, and even leadership [3]. One of the best ways to retain teachers, is to better prepare them for the classroom. Teacher residency and induction programs—which focus on classroom-based clinical experiences under the guidance of experienced mentor teachers—reduce teacher turnover and departures [4]. New York has a handful of these teacher residency programs, but we believe the state needs many more.

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) established a program in the 2014-2015 school year called Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (STLE), with the goal of placing the State’s most effective teachers and principals in the highest-needs schools. We are aligned with NYSED’s goal, and we believe in the multi-measurement evaluation system they proposed as a solution [5]. We want to take solutions one step further and place an emphasis on recruiting those Highly Effective and Effective educators identified by the multi-measurement evaluation system, and create career pathway opportunities to educate students who traditionally have been disproportionately taught by underqualified educators. Teachers unions throughout the state have supported the development of career pathways, indicating that NYSUT would be in support of this idea.

PROPOSAL

Our proposed solution addresses both aspects of the two-pronged approach.

Residencies: Under ESSA, New York State must draft regulations that prioritize the use of Title II funds for the creation and/or maintenance of both university-based and non-profit-sponsored teacher residency and induction programs. Additionally, New York should apply for US Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership grant funds to support partnerships between institutes of higher education, teacher preparation programs, and high-need districts and schools to implement model teaching residency programs.

Implementation: ESSA allows states to reserve up to 2% of their Title II funding to prepare educators to work in high-needs schools. New York State must draft regulations that preserve the use of this 2% of Title II funding for this purpose.

CAREER PATHWAYS

A New York State Elevating Effective Educators grant program is needed to improve equity in student access to high quality educators and to create a sustainable culture of high-quality teaching in high-needs schools. This grant will partner effective educators with supervisors in order to improve school culture and provide professional opportunities and mentoring to other educators in the highest-needs schools in New York City. Additionally, this proposal aims to make the distribution of educators more equitable within districts, not just between districts.  

ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION

Teachers who are tenured in New York State are eligible for the program. If selected, teachers must adhere to a three-year commitment to the program. Geographical considerations will also be made, based on schools/districts selected for the grant. Teachers may apply or be nominated for the program. Priority will be given to teachers with a Highly Effective rating for three consecutive school years.

POSSIBLE STEPS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

Step 1: School/District Application process (priority given to schools/districts with the highest needs, based on State-approved accountability measures, such as APPR)

Step 2: Teacher Application process

Step 3: Schools/Districts and Teachers are matched and announced

Step 4: Training for Supervisors and Teachers

Step 5: Cohort 1 of Elevating Effective Educators

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS

It is recommended that a minimum of fifty schools/districts participate in this grant program, and an allocation of funds be commensurate with that figure. According to the United States Department of Education, Non- Regulatory Guidance for Title II, “SEAs [State education agencies] and LEAs [local education agencies] are encouraged to use Title II, Part A funds to establish and support high quality educator induction and mentorship programs that where possible are evidence-based and are designed to improve classroom instruction and student learning and achievement and increase the retention of effective teachers, principals, or other school leaders.” [9] (ESSA Section 2101 (c) (4) (B) (vii)) We hope that this grant may be funded in part using Title II dollars.             

For more information, contact the New York Educator Voice Fellowship or email maryconroy.almada@americaachieves.org.