Empowered Employees

Empowered Employees

Empowered employees: Empowering talented teachers, principals and administrators

Talented Americans are attracted into public school classrooms and school systems, where they are:

  • Honored, rewarded and provided career advancement opportunities

  • Positioned to continuously improve based on confident, data-driven decision making

  • Given the time, feedback, training, tools, freedom and support—such as real-time, individualized student information—they need to help identify creative and flexible instructional strategies that meet the needs of each and every student

  • Responsible for helping all students make reasonable academic gains

North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools boosted academic performance more than 20 points in a single year across 20 schools targeted for turnaround using the “Strategic Staffing Initiative.” This initiative, developed under the leadership of Broad Academy Fellow and then-superintendent Pete Gorman, empowered top principals with proven track records with the freedom to assemble teams of great teachers to turnaround the district’s struggling schools. (See: Aspen Institute case study on CMS’s Strategic Staffing)


New Orleans’ New Schools for New Orleans recruited, trained and developed more than 67 teacher-leaders to work in schools throughout the city under a partnership that Broad Residency graduate and then-CEO Neerav Kingsland created with Leading Educators, an organization dedicated to increasing the leadership capabilities of mid-level teachers.


Colorado’s Harrison School District Two, which serves many high-poverty and minority students, achieved strong student gains under Broad Academy Fellow and then-superintendent Mike Miles. With teacher buy-in, Miles secured a new teacher evaluation and compensation system that no longer compensates teachers based on longevity, but instead on their performance on multiple indicators, including frequent classroom observations and student test scores. Two years later, Harrison students showed the largest proficiency increases on state assessments in the history of the exams.


Broad Academy Fellow Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy helped teachers use information about the progress of their school on student achievement, attendance, parent and community engagement and school safety to make better instructional decisions based on student needs, using a Performance Meter, a data‐driven, multi‐measure scorecard. In 2012, 90 percent of elementary school teachers and 70 percent of secondary school teachers reported that they made decisions about instruction based on data, an increase of nearly 20 and 27 percentage points, respectively, over 2008.


Across the northeastern United States, Achievement First schools launched a comprehensive effort to recognize, reward and develop great teachers and help them progress in their careers. This “Teacher Career Pathway” was developed by Broad Residency graduate Sarah Coon. The model empowers teachers with student achievement data, unit and lesson observation, review and feedback, and parent and student surveys, among other things. In 2012, nearly every Achievement First teacher reported that they found the criteria for measuring teacher effectiveness “fair,” clearly understood how great teaching would be defined, and felt that the salary increases, differentiated development, recognition and bonus opportunities made them “valued” and contributed toward their “desire to continue teaching at Achievement First.”


Delaware’s former state superintendent and Broad Academy graduate Lillian Lowery piloted a new teacher evaluation system in partnership with Delaware’s largest teacher union, and held the Christina School District—the state’s largest school district—accountable for removing chronically failing teachers from persistently low-performing schools in order to receive its share of Race to the Top funds.


Following her impact in Delaware, Lowery became Maryland state superintendent of schools and significantly increased professional development for teachers, provided coaches to help teachers review student data and develop lesson plans and provided school principals with coaches to help them manage the professional growth of their teachers. Highly effective educators in high-need schools now receive fellowships and retention bonuses.


Denver Public Schools chief human resources officer and Broad Residency graduate Shayne Spalten helped the district move from an evaluation system under which 60 percent of teachers felt they received no meaningful feedback to a system under which 77 percent of teachers felt their year-end conversations with school leaders were meaningful. In the system’s first year, 84 percent of teachers also received professional growth plans, a number the district plans to increase going forward.


Spalten also noted that local universities were not graduating enough teacher candidates to fill the district’s vacancies and launched a unique district-run teacher residency program with the University of Denver that graduates 75 to 100 qualified teacher candidates per year in critically needed subject areas. She also created a principal residency and master’s program with the University of Denver to help fill 30 to 40 new principal vacancies a year.


As former deputy director of human resources for Boston Public Schools, Broad Residency graduate Michelle Boyers improved teacher quality by securing 100 percent more ready-to-hire teachers in critical areas (math, reading, science). Boyers also led efforts to increase the diversity of the applicant pool, securing 58 percent more licensed African-American teacher applicants and 30 percent more licensed Hispanic teacher applicants.


Nancy McGinley, superintendent in South Carolina’s Charleston County School District and a Broad Academy Fellow, brought student suspensions down to a tenth of one percent by implementing a district-wide system (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support) which uses best practices to prevent misconduct in the classroom, reduces disruptions in lesson plans and time spent helping suspended children catch up, and helps teachers make more gains with their classes as a whole.


Jack Elsey, former Detroit Public Schools area superintendent and Broad Residency graduate, helped 26 principals provide their teachers with effective professional development, lesson planning support and assistance managing student data. The number of principals who went from meeting with their teachers at least once a week spiked from 10 percent to 60 percent over the course of one year. Elsey went on to become chief schools officer for the district’s nine lowest achieving schools, where he empowered promising school leaders with the authority to make decisions regarding school staff, budget, academic planning and vendors—decisions usually regulated at the central office or by collective bargaining agreements. Learn more: Detroit Rising College Preparatory schools and “DPS helping students see their way to college”


Casey Wardynski, Alabama’s Huntsville City Schools superintendent and a Broad Academy Fellow, distributed 22,000 laptops and iPads—one of either for each student—across the district in 2012. The effort by this Alabama superintendent of the year was part of a larger program to give teachers the resources to innovate their teaching strategies and empower them to teach 21st century skills. Learn more: “Huntsville City Schools recognized by tech research firm for this digital 1:1 initiative,” “Huntsville City Schools named a national “signature district” for driving reform through technology


Former New York City Department of Education Director of Strategy and Talent and Broad Residency graduate Hannah Dietsch enabled principals to spend more time in the classroom helping students and teachers succeed by eliminating unnecessary central office reporting requirements, which reduced the amount of time principals spent on administrative tasks from 43 percent to 30 percent.


Broad Residency graduate Akeshia Craven-Howell, former district area officer for Chicago Public Schools, helped 10 principals partner with the University of Chicago Consortium of Chicago School Research to apply a performance metric that measures which freshmen are on track to graduate high school, instead of waiting until junior year to assess progress. The result: In the course of 2011-2012, the number of freshman on track to graduate rose by 8 percentage points (from 61 to 69 percent), meaning 100 more students were on track to graduate high school in four years.


Broad Residency graduate Rashidah Morgan, former director of leadership strategy for North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, secured $7.5 million from the Wallace Foundation to fund a “principal pipeline initiative” in partnership with Leaders for Tomorrow, New Leaders for New Schools, Winthrop University and Queens University, improving the district’s ability to attract strong principals into its schools.