As more schools use technology and new staffing models to reach more students with personalized learning and excellent teachers, how will evaluation systems keep up? It’s been a heavy lift for pioneering states and districts—examples here—just to begin measuring the basics in a one-teacher-one-classroom mode. What can schools do to select, develop, and evaluate teachers in new roles—such as those working in elementary specialist teams, blending technology and face-to-face instruction,  leading other teachers, or using any of these models while reaching students in remote locations via webcams?

As a start, Public Impact has published the Teacher and Staff Selection, Evaluation, and Development Toolkit, which provides detailed job descriptions and tools for interviewing, selecting, developing, and evaluating staff in these and other new school models. The toolkit helps schools match people to roles in which each person can contribute to excellence and continue developing skills and competencies. The materials are built to dock into existing teacher evaluation systems that include student outcomes and multiple measures.

Public Impact previously published detailed school models that use job redesign and technology to extend the reach of excellent teachers to more students, for more pay, within budget. Most of the models create collaborative teams and enable stronger professional development on the job. In each of these models, teachers have career opportunities dependent upon their excellence, leadership, and student impact. Advancement allows more pay and greater reach. When excellent teachers reach more students, per-pupil funds are freed to cover higher pay and other priorities—in some cases for all teachers, not just the best. Teachers can learn from their outstanding peers. Most important, all students have excellent teachers in charge of their learning. We call this an Opportunity Culture, explained in this infographic.

The new toolkit includes charts explaining behavioral competencies—the habits of behavior that help predict how well employees will do their jobs—that interviewers can use to place teachers and staff in the right roles and help them succeed. Schools may use these competencies for selection, evaluation, and development. It also provides detailed interview questions, an interview script, and ratings scales of increasingly effective levels of behavior for each competency.

In the career paths available in an Opportunity Culture, teachers have the possibility for fluid career advancement and transitions among roles, as we explained here. We give educators at least 15 career paths to choose from. Public Impact is beginning to work with pilot sites to implement reach extension, and we see emerging examples in the field. But all schools can use this toolkit, and share what they learn as they provide meaningful, sustainably funded career options for teachers. As schools and districts provide more career choices for teachers, this field must keep evolving its evaluation and career placement systems to keep pace.

An aside for researchers and human resource professionals: The competencies included in this toolkit build off the long legacy of Harvard professor David McClelland, who, among other accomplishments, pioneered the field of measuring individuals’ “competencies,” or ways of acting and thinking that distinguish high performers on the job. His method involved rigorous, in-depth interviews comparing those who achieve top results with average performers, and quantifying both the complexity and frequency of behaviors that statistically distinguish the best from the rest. Validation compared interview scores to later performance. Much of this research is summarized in Competence at Work, written by two of his protégées. When Singapore created its evaluation and career path system in the early 2000s, it turned to McClelland’s colleagues in Boston. Singapore already had an academically high-performing system, but wanted to select, develop, and promote teachers who were also better at nurturing students’ emotional stability and leading peers. Public Impact’s toolkit builds on this work, applying it to new roles. It’s a first step: As more people enter newly crafted teaching roles, validation and improvement will be needed. Hint: big research opportunity.

-Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan Hassel

Last updated July 3, 2012