Analyzing TLC’s effectiveness – so far
Teacher leadership is critical to student success. A recent report from the National Council of State Legislatures, which analyzed features of exemplary education systems, stated, “High-performing countries create a variety of roles for teachers in the schools so they can use their expertise to improve teaching and learning and, at the same time, offer an exciting career in education.”
Iowa has embraced this approach and the state’s investment in teacher leadership is unrivaled. Roughly one in four teachers now holds a formal, compensated teacher leadership role. Iowa’s long-term commitment of more than $150 million annually coupled with the buy-in of key stakeholders will ensure sustainability over time.
I first came to Iowa nearly five years ago to facilitate a task force on teacher leadership and compensation. As part of this work, I reviewed previous efforts across the country aimed at developing teacher leadership and improving compensation. Many of these initiatives quickly fizzled due to poor planning, insufficient involvement of teachers, inadequate funding, fluctuating political support, and a lack of clear goals.
Iowa took these potential pitfalls into account in the design of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) system. We now have a fully implemented system built for the long haul.
One of the key components of TLC is the ability to determine its impact. This starts with having a common understanding of the goals. The goals of TLC are to:
Attract able and promising new teachers by offering competitive starting salaries and offering short-term and long-term professional development and leadership opportunities;
Retain effective teachers by providing enhanced career opportunities;
Promote collaboration by developing and supporting opportunities for teachers in schools and school districts state wide to learn from each other;
Reward professional growth and effective teaching by providing pathways for career opportunities that come with increased leadership responsibilities and compensation; and
Improve student achievement by strengthening instruction.
The Iowa Department of Education is taking a multi-pronged approach to measuring progress toward these goals. First, we are compiling a summary of the end-of-year reports from all 115 school districts that implemented a local TLC plan last year. This report will be released this fall and will include both quantitative data from school districts on how they performed in comparison to their goals as well as qualitative data on the strengths, challenges and next steps in the TLC implementation process.
Second, the Department has contracted with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to do a formal, external evaluation of TLC. This evaluation includes focus groups, interviews and surveys based on the goals of the system. This effort has been a massive undertaking. Nearly 11,000 teachers and almost 750 administrators participated in the surveys.
In addition, AIR is also conducting an impact analysis to help determine if TLC is associated with improved student achievement. AIR has developed a sophisticated, yet easily understandable, comparative interrupted time series (CITS) design to determine the impact of TLC on student achievement. Initial results from this analysis and the surveys will be available in November.
Finally, the Department is supporting Iowa’s Commission on Educator Leadership and Compensation in the development of a TLC status report. This legislatively mandated report will be submitted in mid-January 2017 and is required every three years. This review will examine the impact of TLC on education in Iowa as well as the Department’s implementation efforts.
The Iowa Department of Education will maintain its focus on effective implementation in the months and years ahead. We look forward to sharing the results of the initial findings and continuing to improve the TLC system over time.
Thank you for all you do.
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