Thursday, July 1st, 2010 - 6:43
Monday, June 14, 2010 - 12:40
It’s not particularly easy getting teachers and their unions to buy in to reform efforts necessary to get Race to the Top money. But a little cash can sure help.
Education officials and teachers in many states are waiting to learn whether they will win grant funds in the 2nd round of Race to the Top. If the experience of round one applies, two of the big questions that will separate the winners from the losers are: 1) Are their goals ambitious enough? 2) Did they get sufficient teachers’ union buy-in?
Dan Cruce, of Delaware, one of the two winners of Round 1 funds, has an interesting explanation for how Delaware was able to answer both of these questions sufficiently well to emerge victorious. “There was a real focus on data and a real focus on fairness,” he says. Sounds reasonable. But building a focus on data into the system doesn’t happen by accident. How did Delaware approach that task?
Cruce explains that using more data, and using it better, required providing more human capital support for teachers and administrators in the form of data coaches and development coaches. With the ramped up expectations on teachers and principals to improve schools, this kind of support was necessary, says Cruce, to give educators a fair chance of meeting expectations.
What about getting buy-in from teachers and their unions? Cruce says that Delaware was so successful here because the state provided better compensation for meeting high expectations. The state instituted attraction and retention bonuses, for example, but only teachers who are rated highly effective can apply, Cruce explains.
Good teachers are also given professional development training specifically for moving into high needs schools—as well as attraction bonuses. And once they are there, he emphasizes, “If you are highly effective, you are eligible for even more.”
“The acknowledgement is that if we get teachers to work that hard, those teachers will now be eligible to benefit as well.”