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North Tonawanda 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

North Tonawanda’s vision for the STLE grant was to improve English Language Arts (ELA), mathematics, and enhance instruction through technology. At the time the STLE 3 grant application was written in winter 2013, student achievement at the elementary and middle levels indicated that approximately half of all students were meeting grade level standards in key subjects.  Student subgroups that include minority, special education, and economically disadvantaged students were less likely to meet grade level standards, placing them at high risk of school failure and dropout. The district envisioned utilizing career ladder pathways to increase the number of teachers rated Effective and Highly Effective within each building by supporting the professional development and improvement of Ineffective and Developing teachers, as well as teachers who score in the low-Effective range.  Career ladder pathways at North Tonawanda would create a clearly defined structure for teachers and administrators to attain higher levels of responsibility and reward.

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Currently,   greater emphasis is being placed on strengthening the skill set of Teacher Leaders, through the Advanced Certificate program at Niagara University (NU). The district is working collaboratively with NU to plan and carry out strands of professional development for both Novice and Professional Teachers on career ladder pathways. In addition, Teacher and Principal Leaders have begun working with the Board of Education and district administration to develop a mission and vision, and lay the framework for professional learning communities. Preliminary results show that the strategies being implemented are having a significant impact on teaching strategies, particularly for grade 3 teachers.  As part of the STLE initiatives, classroom teachers were asked to commit to progress monitor all of their students five times per quarter for both ELA and math, utilizing the information gathered from these interim assessments to differentiate instruction with support provided by Teacher Leaders. These scores were used to predict future success on the State assessments, with a high degree of accuracy.  More frequent monitoring allows teachers to make adjustments that lead to improved student outcomes.  Next year’s student assessments are expected to show gains as a result of this new strategy. The district has designated Teacher Coaches/Collaborators that cover the classes of teachers who attend professional development sessions to receive deliberate support and instruction in targeted areas based on progress monitoring and Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) evaluations.  

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Promising Practice

  • Developed a common language to ensure that teachers and administrators are effectively assessing performance and understand one another.
  • Partnered with local Institutions of Higher Learning to train teacher and principal leaders.
  • Involved a multitude of stakeholders to ensure that the strategic direction is aligned with community and district values.
  • Completed initial and ongoing calibration of effective teaching and leadership practices for conducting observations and providing meaningful feedback.
  • Articulated clear expectations for effective teaching and leadership practices based on the New York State Teaching Standards and the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards.

Sustainability

The North Tonawanda City School District is committed to sustaining all grant funded activities, including the career ladder pathways, beyond the grant term. The district is currently examining grant opportunities to sustain the model, in particular its Teacher Coach/Collaborator position. 

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

  • 5 Teacher Coach/Collaborators directly impact 140 teachers which impact 3,500 students
  • 17 Teacher Leaders directly impact 294 teachers which impact 3,661 students
  • 2 Principal Leaders directly impact 294 teachers which impact 3,661 students and their parents

Areas of Focus

The North Tonawanda 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

North Tonawanda has a multi-component program with clearly defined strands for the development of current and future principals.  A separate, Developing Administrator strand, is offered to Teacher Leaders with administrative promise. These aspiring administrators enter the administrative program at the University at Buffalo; specifically the LIFTS (Leadership Initiative for Tomorrow’s Schools) administrative program. They are part of a cohort and as a result of the partnership with the University at Buffalo; they will be sponsored candidates for the district. They also participate in an internship experience, as the grant has provided the district with the funding to allow them to shadow a Principal Leader once per week. In addition, Teacher Leaders are eligible to participated in an Advanced Certification of Study program through Niagara University’s Teacher Leadership program.

Recruitment

To encourage the highest qualified teachers to work with students in the highest need schools, the district will offer the most effective teachers an economic incentive to transfer to the highest need school for a minimum of three years with the option of transferring back to their previous school after the three-year period ends. A one-time stipend of $5,000 is offered to accept a transfer. To be eligible for the transfer, teachers must have received a composite score of Highly Effective or Effective once in the past two years, and submit an application which will be reviewed by a committee that will include: a board member, a parent from the targeted school, a teacher, the superintendent, and the building principal.

Development

Teacher Leaders receive professional development through Niagara University’s Teacher Leadership Advanced Certification of Study program. Studies prepare teachers to: mentor Novice and new teachers, as well as those teachers receiving a component or composite APPR rating of Ineffective or Developing.  Teachers also engage in curriculum development activities and design and deliver robust professional development opportunities for their colleagues.

In addition, Teacher Leaders have provided professional development opportunities through a strand of offerings to teachers in need, parents, as well as administrators these sessions have addressed: Pre-Committee on Special Education (CSE) strategies, the K-6 Health Curriculum, Guided Reading & Literacy, and the ELA Modules. Principal Leaders mentor Teacher Leaders who are: learning to coach adults; manage district-wide curriculum and assessment development teams; and conduct lead evaluator certification training for administrators district-wide. Professional development for the Principal Leader position is provided by the District Superintendent and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), as needed.

Retention

North Tonawanda created a structure involving intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, as well as formal and informal recognition to help in the retention of effective educators across the district, including providing monetary recognition for work outside of the school day (e.g., $5,000 stipend for Teacher Leaders and Professional Teachers, $5,000 stipend for Principal Leaders, and a Recruitment/Transfer award of $5,000 stipend for Highly Effective/Effective teachers to teach in a high needs school for a minimum of 3 years).   

Equitable Access

The district has a coach designated once per week who works alongside of teachers and principals to discuss Pre-CSE (Committee on Special Education) strategies. Most specifically, the coach introduces and models (when needed) strategies for successful implementation. The coach works alongside teachers to examine data and with the Student Support Team (SST) to be sure teams are working consistently and equitably across all elementary schools and across the district.  In addition, North Tonawanda’s Teacher Leaders mentor new and novice teachers, as well as teachers who have received a composite rating of Developing or Ineffective on their annual evaluation. 

Other Areas of Focus

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

As a result of the work of teacher and principal leaders, there have been strands of quality professional development offered to all 294 teachers in the district. These sessions were deliberately designed to meet the needs addressed in the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plan and aligned to district initiatives in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics.

Family Engagement

The district is currently working on the development of a video library which will provide professional development and support to all constituents in the district, including parents and students. Identified segments of planned coaching videos will include identifying college and career ready standards for parents and organizational techniques for students.

Dissemination of Promising Practice

Using the STLE 3 grant as a foundation, the district is using the two principal leaders through STLE-D to implement a plan to increase the number of buildings led by the most effective principals, prepare promising district staff to receive a composite rating of Highly Effective on their evaluation in the future and create an administrator development strategy that can be maintained by the district after the grant period ends.

The STLE principals with the assistance of 17 teacher leaders are providing professional development on effective instructional strategies, research-based best practice, and purposeful learning walks to better evaluate current instruction and provide more meaningful feedback to strengthen novice and professional teachers. Purposeful learning walks help principals identify areas of strength and need in teachers, and assist the district in developing more uniform assessments among principals by giving them specific examples of highly effective teaching strategies in key content areas.

Areas of Impact

The North Tonawanda 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
  • Five Teacher Leaders are working with 75 staff to support the top 10% of at-risk students through targeted instruction.
  • Reorganization has increased student access to the most effective teachers.
  • For the first time, after school workshops are being held for grades 3-6 parents to help them provide additional support to their children in mathematics aligned to the college and career ready standards. The first workshop in winter 2015 was attended by 148 parents.
  • 2 Principal Leaders are mentoring the remaining 4 principals in the district who have not obtained a Highly Effective rating to extend the reach of these leaders to approximately 2000 students. Each of the 4 principals has a development plan based on their specific building needs.
Early Impact on Talent Management System
  • For the first time throughout the 2014-15 school year, 2 Principal Leaders and 17 Teacher Leaders will lead 24 workshops for all 294 teachers, designed to address areas of need using APPR data for teachers, with a specific focus on ELA and math. 
  • All 17 Teacher Leaders are enrolled in Niagara University’s Teacher Leadership Advanced Certification program. In addition, 2 Teacher Leaders, aspiring administrators, are enrolled in the University at Buffalo Leadership Initiative for Tomorrow’s Schools program to prepare internal candidates for leadership roles in the district.
  • Teacher observation results indicate improved instructional practice in teachers’ classrooms after targeted feedback from the peer observation model in using questioning and discussion techniques, engaging students in learning, and using assessment instruction.

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
  • Utilizes effective teaching strategies.
  • Promotes student learning through highly effective teaching.
  • Communicates effectively with parents, students and colleagues about teaching and learning in the classroom.
  • Participates in professional development.
  • Participates in mentoring offered by Highly Effective Teacher Leaders (when applicable).
N/A

4

Professional Teacher

Teacher Coach/Collaborator

  • All responsibilities of a novice teacher.
  • Plan and lead grade level, interdisciplinary or content specific teacher meetings.
  • Provide professional development and training for staff.
  • Adapt curriculum to provide for the needs of each and every student.
  • Actively engage in the Collaborative Instructional Review process to ensure highly effective teaching in all content areas.
  • Lead others in a designated area of district need.  Areas include: Pre-Committee on Special Education (CSE) strategies, Health Curriculum K-6, Guided Reading & Literacy, and English Language Arts (ELA) Modules.
  • Coach teachers one-on-one or in small groups, analyze student data and engage in instructional improvement activities.
$5,000 stipend

5 (One Teacher Coach/Collaborator position is shared between two people who are in the role part-time. Each receives a stipend of $2,500).

Teacher Leader
  • Mentor first year teachers, teachers who received ratings of Developing, Ineffective, and teachers who request additional support.
  • Provide strands of professional development in the areas of English Language Arts (ELA), mathematics and technology.
  • Work to enhance parental involvement as well as future curriculum updates.
  • Assist the development of their colleagues to share best practice.
  • Provide workshops or information for parents.
$5,000 stipend

17

Principal Career Ladder Pathway

Principal Title Roles and Reponsibilities Compensation Number Serving in Role in 2014-15
Novice Principal
  • Creates effective learning environments
  • Supports teacher growth and success using a collaborative and supportive process
  • Ensures teachers integrate literacy and math strategies into daily instruction in all content areas
  • Facilitates evidence-based decision making
  • Participates in the Collaborative review process
N/A 3
Professional Principal
  • All responsibilities of a Novice Principal.
  • Create effective learning environments.
  • Support teacher growth and success using a collaborative and supportive process.
  • Review process to ensure highly effective teaching in all content areas.
N/A 4
Principal Leader
  • Conduct formal mentoring of teachers, administrative interns, first-year administrators, and other relevant staff to become school administrators.
  • Conduct formal mentoring of lead/mentor teachers who are learning to coach and develop other adults.
  • Manage district-wide curriculum and assessment development teams.
  • Work collaboratively with Teacher Leaders and administrators to establish model schools and professional learning communities.
  • Support Teacher Leaders with carrying out goals and establishing priority areas in need.
  • Mentor aspiring administrators who will shadow once per week.
  • Work collaboratively with Teacher Leaders to design online library for professional development.
$5,000 stipend 2

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

  • Through STLE and the further development of career ladder pathways, North Tonawanda has focused their efforts on the development of current and future principals as well as on providing teachers with opportunities to expand their reach beyond their own classroom.  Eligible and interested candidates are invited to apply for positions and opportunities:
  • As North Tonawanda has participated in both STLE 3 and STLE-D, they have made concerted efforts to keep their stakeholders informed of grant activities and may assist other districts as they communicate with their Boards of Education or other constituents:
    • The STLE 2014 – 2015 slide deck provides a brief overview of how STLE funds are being used and what STLE funds are going towards for an audience of external stakeholders
    • The STLE and You slide deck provides an overview of STLE activities since the beginning of the 2014 school year for an audience of both internal and external stakeholders
  • 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.

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.