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Depew Union Free School District

 STLE | Program Summary Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and local unions collaborated to develop programs that focus on various elements of a strategically planned Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (TLE) Continuum, including preparation, recruitment and placement, induction and mentoring, evaluation, ongoing professional development/professional growth, performance management and career ladder pathways. | Focus & ImpactEach Local Education Agency (LEA) has identified measurable goals and outcomes aligned with their grant programs. Quantitative and qualitative data is meant to communicate the value and impact of this work by highlighting the reach of teacher and principal leaders, cost and time savings, as well as indicate the progress made towards the specific student achievement and talent management needs identified by each LEA. Program evaluation is ongoing; LEAs will continue to monitor impact through and beyond the grant period to better understand correlations between various district and building initiatives, the work of teacher and principal leaders, and the impact on student access and achievement.> | Career Ladder PathwaysEach LEA participating in STLE 2 or 3 was required to develop and implement or enhance career ladder pathways rooted in sound implementation of their evaluation systems. Career ladder pathways were based on a minimum of three “rungs” including: novice, professional, and leader levels that were associated with specific roles, responsibilities, and optional district-defined compensation incentives. | Sharing the WorkThe Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (STLE) grant has resulted in the development and sharing of a wide variety of tools, tips, and resources. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) have been highlighted for their work through various media outlets and NYSED videos, and have also created tools and resources that are available to the field.

STLE Program Summary   Local Education Agencies(LEAs) and local unions collaborated to develop programs that focus on various elements of a strategically planned Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (TLE) Continuum, including preparation, recruitment and placement, induction and mentoring, evaluation, ongoing professional development/professional growth, performance management and career ladder pathways.

Continuum Graphic

This graphic represents the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (TLE) continuum recommended by the New York State Education Department.

Program Summary

The Depew Union Free School District strengthened its Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (TLE) continuum by supporting its career ladder pathway approach for teachers and principals.  The overarching goal of Depew’s STLE 2 grant was to improve district educators’ effectiveness and increase their capacity to improve the academic achievement and college and career readiness of students—particularly among socioeconomically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities.

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Depew's STLE 2 work has centered around ongoing, job-embedded professional development and training for both teachers and administrators.  A key focus was implementing Data Inquiry Teams with common protocols that drove the district’s instructional approaches. By identifying effective and highly effective teachers and principals to fulfill these additional responsibilities, Depew was distributing the talents of their educators across content areas, grade levels and buildings. Emphasis was placed on supporting high need students through the use of data, mentoring, professional development, and consistent, district-wide utilization of evidence-based strategies that supported student success and achievement.

Depew states a result of the implementation of teacher and principal career ladder pathways is a high performing district defined by a school culture that embraces and expects excellence from all stakeholders. To achieve a highly effective district and school culture, Depew chose to incorporate the Leader in Me (TLIM) program. The implementation included teaching Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in their Freshmen Academy and having their elementary school become a TLIM school. Depew reports that TLIM is an innovative, school-wide model that aspires to increase teacher effectiveness, student engagement, and academic achievement, while preparing student to be leaders in the 21st century. For teachers and administrators, the goals, tasks and activities outlined in the TLIM process provide a model for schools to assess and improve each area of competence identified in the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) criteria. For students, TLIM schools are reporting promising results that include reduced discipline problems, increased student engagement, students taking more responsibility for education and better attendance. 

Through STLE-D, Depew has collaborated with Clarence Central School District and the Cheektowaga-Maryvale School District to focus on strengthening teachers and leaders through focused professional development and common goals. Principals and teacher leaders on varying levels of career pathways participated in professional development opportunities aimed at enhancing their knowledge and skills, with a particular focus on aligning instructional strategies to college and career readiness standards through the use of a professional learning community (PLC) model and framework.  Principals and teachers then turn-keyed this training to teachers in all three districts

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Promising Practice

  • District established literacy coaches at the K-5 level who were instrumental in assisting teachers understand, teach and assess the college and career ready ELA standards.  They are members of the STLE cadre and have fully embraced their instructional leadership role.
  • Principals understand their pivotal role in the success of PLCs and have emerged as leaders who embrace and nurture the development of their staff as collegial partners to share leadership and various decision-making roles.  This has resulted in a shared responsibility for the total development of students and collective responsibility for students’ success.
  • Depew’s evidence-based inquiry process is systemic and driving instructional changes based on in-the-moment data analysis (formative vs. summative). 

Sustainability

The Depew Union Free School District’s Board of Education, Superintendent and Business Official are preparing the district financially to be able to sustain programs and personnel related to career ladder pathways through the search for additional grant funds and also inclusion in the general fund.

STLE Areas of Focus and Impact   Each Local Educational Agency (LEA) has identified measurable goals and outcomes aligned with their grant programs. Quantitative and qualitative data is meant to communicate the value and impact of this work by highlighting the reach of teacher and principal leaders, cost and time savings, as well as indicate the progress made towards the specific student achievement and talent management needs identified by each LEA. Program evaluation is ongoing; LEAs will continue to monitor impact through and beyond the grant period to better understand correlations between various district and building initiatives, the work of teacher and principal leaders, and the impact on student access and achievement.

This graphic represents the five common talent management challenges. LEAs may address one or more of the five common talent management challenges of preparing, recruiting, developing, retaining and providing equitable access to the most effective educators using career ladder pathways.

Reach

  • 24 STLE Cadre members (Novice and Professional teachers) directly impact 162 teachers which impact 1,837 students
  • 2 Literacy Coaches directly impact 68 teachers which impact 805 students
  • 3 Principal Leaders directly impact 162 teachers which impact 1,837 students.

Areas of Focus

The Depew Union Free School District set out to address the common talent management challenges of preparing, developing, retaining, and providing equitable access to the most effective educators through their career ladder pathway model.

Common Talent Management Challenges

Common Talent Management Challenge Local Educational Agency (LEA) Efforts
Preparation

In collaboration with Buffalo State College, Depew has created an Educational Leadership course for the Spring 2015 semester, which enables interested Teacher Leaders the opportunity to begin a new career pathway to becoming a principal.

Development

The Depew Union Free School District has become a learning community that focuses on continuous inquiry and improvement.  Teachers and principals are working together to explore, experiment and collaborate with the instructional shifts to implement the college and career readiness standards.  District principals understand their pivotal role in the success of professional learning communities (PLCs) and have emerged as leaders who embrace and nurture the development of their staff as collegial partners to share leadership and various decision-making roles.  This has resulted in a shared responsibility for the total development of students and collective responsibility for students’ success.  Further, Depew has provided powerful learning opportunities (with various staff developers, conferences and consultants) that have helped define excellent teaching and classroom practices.  This has resulted in improved teaching and learning for staff and students. 

Depew reports that the school and district culture has greatly improved as a result of the ability to provide the signature training for Steven Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” and The Leader in Me (TLIM) Process.  They have developed a TLIM “Lighthouse Team” at one of the elementary schools and are implementing TLIM in all K-5 classrooms.  This process is becoming part of the school’s fabric and will spiral to the Middle School next year.  

Depew also sent 14 staff members (both principals and teacher leaders) to attend the National Learning Forward Conference in December, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Retention

Prior to the grant, analysis showed that Depew found gaps with inconsistent instructional approaches, lack of data-analysis for instructional improvement, a need for professional development to address the needs of diverse learners, and assistance with implementing shifts. Depew built upon their career ladder structure to help in the retention of effective educators, expanding opportunities and offering financial incentives for individuals to take on new roles and responsibilities to enhance student success (e.g., $1,500 for stipend for Professional Teachers).

Equitable Access

Depew has an ongoing established partnership with Buffalo State College connecting early career educators to professors and other master teachers in the region to enhance skills and success for educators and students. Depew has been asked to serve as a site for the Western New York region’s NYS Master Teacher program; the district’s ultimate goal is to create a culture of excellence. 

Other Areas of Focus

Other Areas of Focus Local Educational Agency (LEA) Efforts
Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR)

Principals are using walk through tools to monitor the implementation of the college and career readiness instructional shifts. They are also using the Evidence Collection tools (on EngageNY) during formal observations to discuss ways to strengthen the rigor as well as explicitly define learning goals and student expectations.  District principals have developed a very strong collaborative team; they share resources and support each other.  Through grant work, focused time has been spent on APPR inter-rater reliability, as well as high impact leadership. Principals have attended all professional development opportunities together and debrief regularly on focus and follow through.  

College and Career Readiness Standards in ELA and Math

Teachers are much more comfortable collaborating, sharing as well as taking risks. This is a direct result of their work to build capacity with the college and career readiness standards. Teachers and principals are showing increased confidence in their work together as well, developing trust with each other. The professional development opportunities this grant has provided (attending National Learning Forward conference, various book studies, use of PD 360, and work with consultants on formative assessment) are the best the district has ever been able to offer. The benefits of this continue to multiply, as teachers turnkey their learnings regularly.

Evidence-Based Instruction

Depew has created action plans and protocols for the systematic collection and review of data across its buildings. Grade levels and departments meet in data inquiry teams and analyze areas of student weaknesses based on common formative assessments with a focus on college and career ready literacy standards in all content areas.  Teachers use the 5 step data review process to identify learning gaps and then develop an action plan for intervention strategies.  This work is driving instructional changes based on in-the-moment data analysis (formative vs. summative). 

Parent Engagement

Increased parent involvement is another major focus of this grant. The district has   held several key events this year, facilitated by students and staff. In March 2015, they held a K-12 literacy celebration that was attended by 800 parents, staff and students. This event truly brought the community together, showcasing the work of staff and students with a focus on their K-12 journey for college and career readiness for all students.

High Need Students

The Leader in Me (TLIM) formalizes this process of "it starts with me" (as an adult to model leadership for students), creates the climate of commitment to students first and simultaneously creates an environment for increased academic rigor. The district has seen their special education population and other at risk learners become highly motivated as a result of this program. The key change has been from teacher-driven classrooms to student-led classrooms.

Dissemination of Promising Practice

The Depew Union Free School District is collaborating with consortium members Clarence Central School District and the Cheektowaga-Maryvale School District to focus on strengthening teachers and leaders through targeted professional development. The overall focus of the STLE-D project is to develop strong, motivated teacher leader and principal teams focused on student achievement and continuous growth as a learning community. Principals and teacher leaders on varying levels of career pathways are participating in professional development activities designed to develop a common language to articulate clear expectations for highly effective teaching and leadership practices based on the NYS Teaching Standards and ISLLC Standards. Principals engage in activities to develop inter-rater reliability around the APPR teacher evaluation.  Principals are also facilitating professional learning communities (PLC) using teacher leader and career ladder members. A major strategy for the PLC’s is to use technology for asynchronous/flipped meetings through the use of My Big Campus (an online learning environment).

Areas of Impact

The Depew Union Free School District has identified quantitative and qualitative impact data that it has seen and hopes to realize since implementing career ladder pathways and related STLE grant activities. 

Areas of Impact

Initial Student Impact
  • Although the final data is not in for this school year, Depew is seeing substantial gains in their STAR reading and Math Scores across the district (growth from September through January). There are also significant numbers of students who have assumed leadership roles in all elementary classrooms. Their discipline referral rates have declined as well and attendance rates have increased.
  • Depew commented after the ELA Common Core exam they have never seen their students be so focused, write with such passion and quality and feel so good about their work.  85% of their students scored at the CCR level of 75 or higher. This is a real testament to taking students to a higher level, with explicit teaching on how to think, closely read and apply this in cohesive writing with evidence.  The total number of students taking the ELA Common Core exam was 142, and only 21 students had a score below 75.
  • Increased the percentage of students that demonstrated proficiency on New York State Grades 3-8 Math Assessments by 15% for all students, 5% for Students with Disabilities, 14% for Economically Disadvantaged students and an average of 18% for minority students from 2012-13 to 2013-14.
  • Increased the Aspirational Performance Measures in ELA and Math for all students by 10% and for Economically Disadvantaged students by 15% from 2013 to 2014.
Early Impact on Talent Management System
  • Increased percent of teachers scoring Effective or Highly Effective on State Provided Growth Ratings by 6% from 2012-13 to 2013-14.
  • 10 of the Depew STLE cadre members attended a 3 Day Leader in Me symposium; senior consultants from Covey facilitated the days.  Cadre members learned about the Seven Habits, visited Leader in Me Lighthouse schools in Western NY, and stepped forward to serve on the Lighthouse Team at Depew’s elementary school.

Career Ladder Pathways   Each LEA participating in STLE 2 or 3 was required to develop and implement or enhance career ladder pathways rooted in sound implementation of their evaluation systems.  Career ladder pathways were based on a minimum of three “rungs” including: novice, professional, and leader levels that were associated with specific roles, responsibilities, and optional district-defined compensation incentives.

Career ladder pathways are a systematic, coordinated approach to provide new and sustained leadership opportunities with additional compensation, recognition, and/or job embedded professional development for teachers and principals in order to advance excellent teaching and learning.

Teacher Career Ladder Pathway

Teacher Title Roles and Reponsibilities Compensation Number Serving in Role in 2014-15
Novice Teacher
  • Attend STLE monthly cadre meetings
  • Participate on building Data Team
  • Assist with data analysis for grade level/department
  • Share lesson/strategy at faculty/grade level/department meeting to demonstrate successful implementation of CCLS shifts in literacy/math
  • Work with minimum of two students as “critical friend” to support academic success. 
  • Provide documentation of learning goals and academic achievement/success
$1,125 stipend

12

Professional Teacher

Lighthouse Team Teacher:

  • Attend 3 Day Seven Habits for Highly Effective People Signature training
  • Attend one Day lighthouse team training
  • Serve on Lighthouse Team for the Leader in Me (TLIM)
  • Turnkey TLIM to staff
  • Meet monthly to plan student Leadership Day
  • Run monthly faculty meetings to provide TLIM booster shots

Professional Teacher:

  • Attend STLE monthly cadre meetings
  • Participate on building Data Team
  • Assist with data analysis for grade level/department
  • Share lesson/strategy at faculty/grade level/department meeting to demonstrate successful implementation of CCLS shifts in literacy/math
  • Work with minimum of two students as “critical friend” to support academic success.  Provide documentation of learning goals and academic achievement/success

Literacy Coach:

  • 2 literacy coaches are in district, one for K-2 and one for 3-5

Response to Intervention (RtI) Coordinator:

  • Each building has a RTI coordinator as well as a district RTI TOSA to assist with DDI

Mentor Teacher:

  • All 1st year probationary teachers receive a teacher mentor    
Lighthouse Team Teacher: $1,500 stipend; Professional Teacher: $1,500 stipend; Literacy Coach: $3,750 stipend; RtI Coordinator: $1,700; RtI TOSA: $3,750 stipend; Mentor: $1,500 stipend

Lighthouse Team Teacher: 10; Professional Teacher: 12; Literacy Coach: 2; RtI Coordinator: 3 +1 TOSA; Mentors: 3

Teacher Leader
  • All duties of the Novice and Professional teachers
  • Presentations to parents and community stakeholders on specific topics (e.g., college and career ready standards)
  • Serve as a demonstration teacher in partnership with a Buffalo State College professor
  • Co-teach with faculty members to model best practices
$3,000 stipend

0

Principal Career Ladder Pathway

Principal Title Roles and Reponsibilities Compensation Number Serving in Role in 2014-15
Novice Principal
  • Conduct formal mentoring of new administrators and summer administrative interns from local colleges
  • Serve on District-wide data team
  • Serve/facilitate building data team, assisting with data analysis for grade/dept. meetings, using district wide data form
  • Provide workshops to parents and/or community stakeholders on Common Core and Career/College Readiness 
$1,125 stipend 3
Professional Principal

Lighthouse Leaders:

  • Attend 3 Day Seven Habits for Highly Effective People Signature training
  • Attend one Day lighthouse team training
  • Serve on Lighthouse Team for the Leader in Me (TLIM)
  • Turnkey TLIM to staff
  • Meet monthly to plan student Leadership Day
  • Run monthly faculty meetings to provide TLIM booster shots

Professional Principal:

  • Conduct formal mentoring of new administrators and summer administrative interns from local colleges
  • Serve on District-wide data team
  • Serve/facilitate building data team, assisting with data analysis for grade/dept. meetings, using district wide data form
  • Provide workshops to parents and/or community stakeholders on Common Core and Career
$1,500 stipend Lighthouse Leader: 4; Professional Principal: 3
Principal Leader
  • All duties of Novice and Professional Principals
  • Conduct lead evaluator and evaluator certification training (and re-training for administrators across the district)
  • Serve as a demonstration principal in conjunction with Buffalo State College to model various leadership practices for administrative interns
  • Provide training for and model best practice use of instructional technology and online learning environments
$2,500 stipend 0

Sharing the Work   The Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (STLE) grant has resulted in the development and sharing of a wide variety of tools, tips, and resources. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) have been highlighted for their work through various media outlets and NYSED videos, and have also created tools and resources that are available to the field.

Resources

  • This Career Ladder Posting for Teachers and Principals was used to advertise available career ladder pathway positions at Depew and includes an overview of the STLE program, the rationale, the selection process for career ladder candidates as well as roles and responsibilities for each career ladder position.
  • Depew has focused their STLE grant, in part, on implementing Data Inquiry Teams with common protocols that drive the district’s instructional approaches.  Through this work, they have created:
  • During 2013-14, Depew introduced the DIY (Depew Informs, Inspires and Invites You) program to provide parents and stakeholders resources and information to understand the college and career readiness standards to further support student learning. The Comprehensive District Planning Team planned a series of activities at all three of the district’s buildings throughout the school year to engage parents to learn more about college and career readiness standards and online academic resources that can be used at home. Please also see: Depew district events familiarize parents with curriculum – March 26, 2015
  • The New York State Career Ladder Pathways Toolkit, a new, interactive, web-based toolkit that includes profiles of adaptable career ladder pathways models, resources, and best practices to help address the five common talent management challenges that contribute significantly to equitable access , resources that will help LEAs implement the Department’s recommended framework and steps to design and implement robust career ladder pathways.
  • To learn more about the Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (STLE)  grant program and to access additional resources for career ladder pathways visit: EngageNY: Improving Practice Landing Page

The Office of Teacher/Principal Quality & Professional Development invites you to submit tools and resources to STLE@nysed.gov that will further help the field, including but not limited to: gap analysis templates, career ladder pathway design principles, communication plans, description of sample roles and responsibilities, tools that help gauge the return on investment and strategies for program evaluation. 

Local Media

  • A major focus of Depew’s STLE 2 grant was to incorporate The Leader in Me process at the elementary school. This video shows the culminating Leadership Day with over 200 parents and community members and over 300 students participating in this celebration, and captures the transformative power this has had with Depew’s students and staff.
  • This presentation from Depew High School teachers showcases their year-long work and focus as part of the STLE-D grant to Depew’s other consortium schools:  the Clarence Central School District and the Cheektowaga-Maryvale Union Free School District. The presentation includes videos with examples of teachers opening their classrooms and modeling the importance of continual learning, teacher leadership and evolving as educators together.  

We encourage you to continue to contribute to the on-going conversation on Twitter by sharing your work using #STLE.