Teacher Leadership and Compensation

The report from the Taskforce on Teacher Leadership and Compensation is available here for download (or read it without downloading here at The Gazette).

The Taskforce has made thirteen recommendations, which “will move Iowa toward achieving its vision of providing a world-class education for all students.”  [p. 9]

These recommendations largely involve creating teacher career pathways (Initial, Career, Model, Mentor, and Lead Teachers), raising teacher pay, and establishing a Commission on Educator Leadership and Compensation, with members appointed by the Director of the DE, to monitor implementation of the career pathway system.  [Take a few minutes to read the details—it is expected to be the centerpiece of the Branstad administration’s next education proposal.]

The Taskforce asserts that the recommendations are “grounded in research and proven to be effective in both the United States and abroad.”  [p. 10]

The theory of action supporting the recommendations is:

If we effectively compensate teachers; recruit and promote excellent teachers and provide support as they collaborate reflectively to refine their practice; create the political will and understanding necessary to remake the status of the teaching profession; give highly effective teachers opportunities to grow, refine, and share their expertise; and develop a clear system with quality implementation, then . . . student learning will increase, student outcomes will improve, and students will be prepared to succeed in a globally competitive environment. [p. 9]

The plan is reportedly going to require 150 million new dollars from the state, and a commitment to sustaining a higher level of state funding.

New money might not be as hard to find in a year with a surplus, but it hasn’t been that long since we saw across the board cuts and zero percent allowable growth.  What happens during the next downturn?

If we can find 150 million new dollars, is this the best way to spend it?  Is this the change most likely to result in a significant, positive change in student achievement?

The report suggests that Mentor Teachers might also serve in other roles, such as, Peer Coaches, Building/District Initiatives Leaders, and Curriculum/Differentiation Coordinators.  What happens to the central office employees serving in these roles?  Are they to work with the Mentor Teachers or be displaced by them?  How do the new School Administration Managers fit in (weren’t they supposed to free up principals to be more involved in instructional leadership)?

Are these the professional supports teachers actually want?  Do they make the profession more attractive to prospective and current teachers?

The Department is accepting comments on the report here until Thursday, December 13, 2012.