Posted by Kristoffer Kohl on Tuesday, 01/14/2014
The iPad initiative grabs the headlines, but a much bigger story is unfolding in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) where efforts are being made to transform how teachers are recruited, developed, supported, and retained.
As Howard Blume reported for the LA Times, district forecasts anticipate the hiring of more than 1,300 teachers next year. After four years of staff reductions and layoffs, this is the good news.
The great news: a plan introduced by the Board of Education's Steve Zimmer to redefine the career continuum for teachers.
Leveraging their homegrown talent, LAUSD would expand the Career Ladder Program so that graduates are encouraged to remain in the district as teachers. What makes the opportunity even sweeter? Incentivizing teachers to live in the community where they teach. #WinWin.
As Blume reported, the district previously capitalized on on the disproportionate number of applicants for available positions during the lean years by raising the bar for new hires. Just 28 percent of applicants for elementary positions were offered a position this year. That figure dropped below 2 percent for high school English positions.
Drawing on research attributing the achievement gap to deficiencies in culturally and linguistically appropriate instruction, LAUSD would expand the number of teachers holding bilingual Crosscultural Language and Academic Development (BCLAD) certificates and would require new hires to demonstrate mastery of culturally relevant and linguistically responsive practices. Prep pathways aligned to community context? Check.
Citing research from Harvard University’s Strategic Data Project indicating the impressive gains among students of National Board Certified teachers in LAUSD, the district would establish a partnership between teacher and administrator unions to expand the number of NBCTs in high-need schools.
[Sidenote: Los Angeles would welcome a local rendition of Mitchell 20. Worked out well for CSI: Los Angeles, The Hills (Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County spin-off), Law & Order: Los Angeles, NCIS: Los Angeles, Nip/Tuck (seasons 5 and 6), Private Practice (Grey’s Anatomy spin off). Any others I’ve forgotten?]
The National Bureau of Economic Research found that 75 percent of teachers who matriculate through a residency program remain in the classroom for at least five years, compared to just half of teachers overall. Accordingly, the resolution aims for 100 percent of new hires to be graduates of residency or credentialing programs that include effectively mentored students teaching components.
Encouraging retention in the first few years is an improvement, but doing so for the span of a career would transform the profession.
That’s why the final call of Zimmer's resolution is for the district, unions, and community-based organizations of LA Compact to collectively explore the future of the teaching profession in 2014. Happy New Year, indeed!
At a time when turnover in the teaching profession costs districts billions and limits institutional knowledge within schools, it is refreshing to see the nation’s second largest district thinking strategically about the next generation of practitioners.