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Mount Vernon City 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 fundamental purpose of the career ladder pathways implementation in the Mount Vernon City School District was and is to ameliorate deficiencies in content knowledge and practice that will address poor student performance and a lack of leadership training. Mount Vernon hoped to address persistent gaps and increase student performance by establishing four “clusters” of schools and representatives that would enable schools with strong professional learning communities (PLCs) to partner with schools with weak or no PLCs; to pair higher-performing schools with weaker-performing schools; and to have teachers of students with disabilities (SWD) and English language learners (ELLs) represent the interests of each subgroup in each cluster.

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Additionally, the career ladder pathways positions were viewed as static positions that would enable self- or democratically-selected teachers and leaders to act in organizing and turn-keying roles to coordinate PLC activities back at their schools.  Teacher leaders have shown impressive growth in four major focus areas: leadership, creating a culture of excellence, using data effectively, and having an effective PLC at their school.  In a survey of the STLE 2 participants, respondents noted their acceptance of being a leader who can initiate change rather than waiting for the principal or others to lead projects. Respondents noted that they are supporting and further developing school- and district wide learning environments rather than working in isolation, as well as creating concrete goals for achievement rather than thinking about improvement in the abstract. Each school has included specific PLC time into their master schedules. Participants report that their school-level PLCs have transformed from “just another meeting with unstructured conversation” to evidence-based “meetings with purpose.”

In addition to teacher leaders assuming building- and district-level leadership roles in establishing and using PLCs to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom, there have been other notable gains. One school was taken off the Focus School list in 2014, two principals were hired from the Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (STLE) ranks to fill the two principal vacancies alluded to above, and the STLE Team is partnering with parent organizations to bolster the home-school relationship. The STLE team has created a district-specific Professional Learning Community (PLC) Handbook and has been using a special Office 365 site to collaborate and share resources.  In addition, teacher leaders have been leading workshops throughout the district, and teachers who are completing Manhattan College School Building Leader (SBL)/ School District Leader (SDL) coursework have been demonstrating their newfound leadership knowledge and skills through collaborative presentations.

Bolstering the current career ladder pathways structure for principals is their next step. As noted for the 2014-15 school year, there were two principal openings filled from within the district. Those two new principals have been getting support from their colleagues. This support includes working with mentors, regular meetings with central office administration and a careful review of Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards as they relate to the principal evaluation model.  However, the “Principal Leader” and “Novice Principals” mentor-mentee paradigm can be strengthened to help those new principals succeed.  This process would include individualized professional development tailored to meet the needs of the individual principal as well as relevant data specific to building needs.  The central office administration will spearhead this effort.

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Promising Practice

  • Partnered with an Institute of Higher Education (IHE) to help develop the capacity of internal candidates to assume administrative positions and address high administrator turnover rates. 
  • Designed and implemented a systemic structure for ongoing and job-imbedded professional development for both teachers and principals using Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) across grade, school, and district levels.
  • Modified master schedule to allow educators the necessary time and space needed to plan and meet in PLCs.
  • Organized PLCs to pair schools with robust school-based PLCs with those who are just beginning this work.  In addition, paired the highest performing schools with the lowest performing schools. Lastly, ensured that each cluster contains representation from elementary, middle and high schools to the extent possible. This structure will help integrate and spread best practices across the district that will increase student achievement and educator effectiveness. 

Sustainability

The Mount Vernon City School District has used the Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (STLE) grant to fund the development and implementation of its districtwide Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and career ladder pathways. The district is committed to sustaining all grant funded activities, including the career ladder pathways, beyond the grant term. The newly hired Superintendent and the STLE Team are preparing building principals to work together to create flexible schedules that will allow PLC meetings to continue at the grade, school, and district levels.

The district’s STLE committee and central administration is tasked with planning for sustainability and is comprised of those on the career ladder pathways, educational partners, building principals, and teacher and principal association leaders.

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

  • 64 Grade Level PLC Representatives, School Level PLC Coordinators, and Cluster and District PLC Coordinators directly and indirectly impact 600 teachers which impact 8,000 students
  • 4 Principal Leaders directly impact 95 teachers which impact 2,300 students

Areas of Focus

The Mount Vernon City School District set out to address the common talent management challenges of preparing, recruiting, 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

Mount Vernon has built a relationship with Manhattan College and implemented a profesional learning community (PLC) for aspiring leaders who are working towards School Building/District Leadership certification. STLE PLC participants who were interested in joining Manhattan College’s SBL courses applied to the program, were accepted according to the college’s criteria, attended an orientation outlining the expectations of the program, and are currently taking graduate courses. Those choosing course work have anecdotally indicated the desire to continue on to internships and administrative positions.  

Recruitment

During STLE 2, Mount Vernon began the strategic re-assignment of effective administrators and teachers into high need schools through the development of side letter agreements that included a recent retirement initiative for teachers and leaders that led to the separation of 70 staff members and the hiring to date of four principals and 20 teachers that fit the district teacher and leader profile.

Development

Professional learning communities (PLCs) have become the vehicle for continuous, job-embedded professional development in order to develop new strategies that work towards improving student performance throughout the district.  In addition, Mount Vernon worked with BOCES experts to train groups of teachers in literacy across the curriculum, as well as in aligning the NYS teaching standards with the Danielson Rubric, supporting the college and career readiness standards in the library, and in using the ELA Common Core Regents as a teaching tool for teachers K-12.

Retention

In designing their career ladder pathways, Mount Vernon desired to adequately address a potential 50% turnover in leadership as well as the large percentage of teachers who are nearing retirement by incentivizing high performing educators to stay in the district.

Equitable Access

The district is working to identify programs and services that are directly related to addressing the needs of all learners across the continuum of achievement.  This includes retraining district staff on Response to Intervention (RTI) as well as introducing AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), a program which targets average range learners.  This work will gradually span the district over several years of careful implementation. The teacher leaders who have emerged through STLE will be instrumental in planning and implementing this endeavor.

Other Areas of Focus

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

The Grade Level PLC Representatives, School PLC Coordinators, and Cluster and District PLC Coordinators assist their peers with navigating Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), developing curriculum aligned to college and career ready standards and using evidence-based instruction through PLCs at the grade, school, and district-level.  

College and Career Readiness Standards in ELA and Math

Some STLE PLC members became part of the ELA rewrite team to revise and streamline the EngageNY ELA module-based curriculum for grades K-10 (the only grades using the CCLS Modules) for the 2014-15 school year and beyond. 

Evidence-Based Instruction

Data evaluation technique was taught and discussed through the PLCs to enhance the use of the districtwide implementation of the i-Ready assessment to inform instruction. The LEA reports that classroom visits have shown widespread use of the i-Ready data to form student learning groups and focus on areas of improvement.

Parent Engagement

Mount Vernon is embarking on a concerted parent engagement program that will follow the guidelines articulated in the “Parent Partnership-Framework” document provided on EngageNY. The Mount Vernon Parent and Community Forum on Education addressed the STLE PLC workshop in December 2014 to set the foundation for parent involvement in transforming the school district. Subsequent parent involvement sessions are planned.

Areas of Impact

The Mount Vernon City 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
  • Educators of students with disabilities and English language learners are intentionally represented in every PLC to ensure these students’ needs are voiced and met through building and district reforms.
  • Increased the number of students demonstrating proficiency on the New York State Grades 3-8  Math Assessment by 3% from 2012-13  to 2013-14.
  • Pre- and post-scores on i-Ready assessments showed ELA grades 3-12 growth from 1 – 6%, and Math grades 3-8 from 2 – 23%.
  • All secondary students are registered on Naviance and are self-developing 5-year “living plans” that include desired CTE coursework, college research, and professional career exploration.
  • Longfellow Elementary School was removed from the Focus School list.
Early Impact on Talent Management System
  • There was a 17% increase in the number of teachers receiving a score of Effective and Highly effective according to Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) from 2012-13 to 2013-14.
  • 25% of teacher observations have resulted in improved instructional practices after targeted feedback from peer and administrative observation model since the 2013-14 school year.
  • 25 teachers are working to obtain School Building Leader / School District Leader certifications through Manhattan College. These teacher leaders are incorporating learned strategies in their practice and sharing them with colleagues.

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

Grade Level PLC Representatives:

  • The role of the PLC Representative includes that of the PLC member and also to represent the grade level PLC at meetings of PLC Representatives called by the PLC Regional Coordinator
  • Participate actively in PLC Representative meetings
  • Report meeting content back to the PLC Members in school wide PLC meetings, and in regional or district meetings.
  • The responsibilities of the PLC member are punctual attendance, completion of tasks assigned to each other during the grade level PLC meeting, to put into practice in the classroom the learnings of the grade level PLC, the school wide PLC or the information gained at meetings of PLC representatives.
$41.63/hour stipend

47

Professional Teacher

School Level PLC Coordinators:

  • The role of the PLC Coordinator is that of the facilitator of school level PLC activities. In concert with the PLC Representatives of the grade levels, s/he consults with the other representatives, arranges with the principal to hold school wide PLC meetings, plans the content, and arranges the schedule so representatives can make reports to the members from the meetings of PLC Representatives. The PLC Coordinator participates in the accountability visits to classrooms.
  • The responsibilities of the PLC Coordinator also include creating and maintaining the year’s calendar of school wide meetings that meet district requirements; planning time with PLC Representatives, with the Principal and other staff needed for effective meetings.
$41.63/hour stipend

13

Teacher Leader

Cluster and District PLC Coordinator:

In addition to Grade Level PLC Representative and School PLC Coordinator responsibilities:

  • Participates in the accountability visits to classrooms to observe the degree of transfer from grade level and school PLC meetings to classroom practice.
  • Collaborates with district personnel to create and maintain the calendar of grade level meetings based on district requirements as well as review PLC agendas and minutes.
  • Arranges with district principals and plans with district personnel in order to facilitate district wide PLC meetings.
  • The Cluster and District PLC Coordinator plans the content as well as arranges the schedules, locations, and speakers for the district wide PLC meetings.
  • Works with district personnel to identify and support potential teacher leaders and aspiring principals willing to take on the challenges of high-needs schools.
$41.63/hour stipend

4

Principal Career Ladder Pathway

Principal Title Roles and Reponsibilities Compensation Number Serving in Role in 2014-15
Novice Principal
  • Engages in design and implementation of curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices.
  • Supports teacher leadership and supports Professional Learning Community (PLC) activities.
  • Analyzes and supports plans for school improvement.
  • Focuses on transfer of learning from PLC deliberations in classroom observations, walk throughs, and accountability visits to support, encourage, and recognize teacher effectiveness in applying PLC learnings. 
$1,250 stipend 2
Professional Principal

In addition to Novice Principal responsibilities:

  • Participates in accountability visits across the district.
  • Engages in supervisory behavior based on helping teachers increase their effectiveness by analyzing student work.
  • Participates in cluster- or district wide curriculum and assessment planning.
$1,289 stipend 10
Principal Leader

In addition to Professional Principal responsibilities:

  • Trained for district wide activity and contribution, including vertical articulation and mentoring high-needs leaders.
  • Focuses on implementing and disseminating systemic change and system-wide support for "bottom-up" efforts. Accepts responsibility for professional learning in a variety of settings across the district. 
$1,546 stipend 4

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

  • The Professional Learning Community (PLC) Handbook, developed by Mt. Vernon and Manhattan College, is a detailed guide for the planning and implementation of PLCs and can be used by other LEAs to inform the development of professional learning communities.        
  • In designing a career ladder pathway, the Mt. Vernon City School District developed several resources to disseminate information on the various roles and responsibilities of available opportunities:
  • The Data Protocol tool was designed to provide a framework for professional learning community (PLC) meetings focusing on data analysis including guiding questions and recommended next steps.
  • 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

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