Keeping Teachers in Challenged Schools
April 21, 2011 1 Comment
Andy Rotherham’s TIME column for the week looks at some recent studies on teacher effectiveness. The whole thing is worth a read, and I want to expand on one part, which deals with expanding the number of National Board teachers in challenged schools:
Simpkins found that the number of National Board teachers in challenging schools is increasing … but mostly because teachers in those schools are earning the credential — not because teachers with the credential are changing schools. He also found that National Board teachers are no more likely to stay in those schools than other teachers. These results are disappointing for proponents … of tying National Board bonuses to service in high-poverty schools as a way to improve equity for low-income students.
It’s important to recognize that compensation alone rarely is the reason folks make professional decisions or express job satisfaction. There’s a fairly dense body of research that illustrates this point. Compensation is a factor in job satisfaction, but it usually ranks lower than things like having the opportunity to use one’s skills/abilities, feeling like there’s more potential for learning in one’s role, maintaining manageable levels of stress, and being a part of something meaningful. All of those things are REALLY hard to accomplish in a chronically under-performing school, and additional compensation will never be sufficient to drive the most effective teachers to teach in those schools.
Putting those things in place, however, is easier said than done. In short, that’s “culture change,” and it’s nearly impossible to do in the old district structure that treats challenged schools as a scourge. We need new organizational units within districts that can flip that mentality on its head and make failing schools the place where rockstar teachers go to get even more effective.