Maintaining the most motivated, highly qualified teachers is an ongoing challenge for America’s schools. The top 20 percent of teachers end up leaving their schools due to neglect and inattention, according to The New Teacher Project. But, a new report “Creating Sustainable Teacher Career Pathways: A 21st Century Imperative” outlines strategies for making teaching an attractive, challenging profession with career advancement.
The report, jointly issued by Pearson’s Research & Innovation Network and National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY), describes recent initiatives at the local, state and national level that promote teacher career advancement.
“Teaching has been called the flat profession—one in which the main opportunity for career advancement is for teachers to leave the classroom to enter administration,” said Katherine Bassett, Executive Director and CEO at NNSTOY. “By establishing true career continuums for teachers, we can create the conditions that will further student learning and increase the effectiveness of all teachers while increasing teacher retention.”
Pearson and NNSTOY’s report includes a state-by-state analysis of current and proposed approaches for promoting teacher leadership and a look at career trajectories for other professions such as nursing, architecture and engineering.
“The teaching profession should recognize and reward expertise by following the lead of other professions and countries,” says Dr. Kathy McKnight, Principal Director of Research, Center for Educator Effectiveness at Pearson. “Creating diverse and flexible career options as well as linking compensation to expertise, performance and responsibilities holds promise for improving recruitment and retention of talented educators.”
With half of the nation’s teachers planning to retire over the next decade, the report focuses on identifying practices that make teaching a more attractive option for a generation that expects flexibility in the workplace, collaborative work structures, differentiated roles and compensation systems that recognize performance and differing levels of responsibility.
State- and national-level recommendations include:
- advocate for federal and state legislation and grant programs that support new school staffing structures and leadership roles for teachers;
- implement state-level guidelines for standards-based assessment and teacher evaluation systems that create the groundwork for differentiated career paths and compensation systems; and
- develop and disseminate model teacher career continuums with input from excellent teachers as well as other stakeholders in the design, implementation, communication and refinement of the model.
Recommendations for the local level include:
- re-examine district human resource policies to see if they are recruiting teachers who are high academic achievers;
- take advantage of technology in extending the reach of highly effective teachers; and
- re-think the one teacher/one classroom organization of schools to facilitate new staffing structures that differentiate roles of teachers and extend the reach of highly effective teachers.