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Syracuse 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 Syracuse City School District is committed to implementing a comprehensive Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (TLE) continuum to strengthen teacher and leader effectiveness and provide incentivized opportunities for professional growth. As Syracuse began implementation of its career ladder pathways, as outlined for the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant, the district decided that a new STLE grant focused specifically on career ladder pathways would allow thoughtful expansion of the opportunities available to teachers and principals. 

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Syracuse was interested in improving their career ladder pathways in three ways.  First, as outlined for TIF, career ladder pathway roles included some “roles” that did not change a teacher’s or principal’s responsibilities, other than opening one’s classroom or school for others to observe.  While a career ladder pathway role without specific, additional responsibilities could be used to recognize and reward strong teachers and leaders, it would not allow the district to leverage those individuals to support others. Second, the roles outlined in the original career ladder pathways had no built-in sustainability; both financially and in terms of effort, almost all of the roles would always require something on top of standard levels of funding and effort.  Third, Syracuse wanted to expand the pathways to include even more specific types of teacher and principal leadership opportunities. Therefore, the district worked with some external partners, including Education First, Public Impact, and the American Federation of Teachers for its teacher career ladder pathways and Cross & Joftus for its principal career ladder pathways. District representatives worked with teacher-led school design teams for more than six months during the 2013-14 school year to develop additional roles, including “Multi-Classroom Leader” roles in a pilot group of schools. These Multi-Classroom Leader roles align with Public Impact’s “Opportunity Culture” models for rethinking how Syracuse staffs schools so that the district can extend the reach of the most effective teachers in financially sustainable ways.  Additionally, a principal design committee wholly redesigned how Syracuse supports new principals through a more comprehensive, largely peer-led principal induction program.

As Syracuse’s career ladder pathways for teachers and principals have evolved, the district has stayed true to its original vision and the goals set in the strategic plan.  Syracuse has sought ways to integrate the Opportunity Culture principles into other work in the district, such as developing a new turnaround school leader preparation and support program that will create new opportunities for teacher leaders to take a seat at the school leadership table in support of a highly effective principal. In the 2014-15 school year, Syracuse has worked with at least 3-4 additional school design teams to expand the pilot that began in 2013-14.  The district is particularly interested in school teams who are interested in incorporating blended learning models (or “time-technology swaps”) into their school design in alignment with one of Public Impact’s other suggested models for extending the reach of the most effective educators.  Syracuse believes that, to dramatically increase student achievement, the district needs to reimagine teaching and leadership, and Syracuse’s career ladder pathways are a critically important part of reimagining how the district’s schools work.

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Promising Practice

  • Developed a comprehensive plan that identifies the needs of the district and provide support for educators to be trained to meet those needs.
  • Communicated extensively and in multiple formats to make certain that all stakeholders are aware and in support of district initiatives.  The Syracuse Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council provides an opportunity to communicate about the broader talent management strategy in Syracuse, as well as allowing direct dialogue about the successes and the struggles taking place across their district. 
  • Partnered with educational organizations dedicated to building the capacity of teacher and principal leaders.
  • Provided for the creation of career ladder pathways that clearly articulate transitions from one rung to the next.

Sustainability

  • Multi-Classroom Leader roles will be expanded to four additional buildings and will be sustained through the standard budgetary process.
  • The district is working with a strategic partner to examine district and school-level resource allocation and explore cost-saving mechanisms across their system.
  • Remaining career ladder pathway roles will continue to be funded in part using other grant funds in 2015-16. At that point, the district will look to use local funds to sustain the work beyond the grant period.
  • The district has built upon the work accomplished through the STLE and TIF grants using a Turnaround School Leaders Program grant from the federal government. 

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

  • 12 Multi-Classroom Leaders directly impact 300 students
  • 12 Multi-Classroom Leaders directly impact 60 teachers which impact 1,560 students
  • 36 Mentor Teachers directly impact 72 teachers which impact 5,587 students
  • 3 Principal Induction Leaders (1 Lead and 2 Assistants) directly impact 11 principals which impact 6,339 students

Areas of Focus

The Syracuse City School District set out to address the common talent management challenges of  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
Recruitment

The district offered recruitment/transfer awards of $6,000 to teachers and select ancillary staff who accepted a new position at one of the district's seven Innovation Zone schools. In addition, the district has created more rigorous selection tools to recruit teachers and leaders, including new interview questions and model lessons for interview staff. In addition, Syracuse has designed metrics to monitor and better streamline recruitment activities and hiring process

Syracuse created a new recruitment site in February 2014 titled “We’re All In, Are You?” This new microsite provides a profile of the district and profiles for a diverse group of teachers, principals and district staff. The microsite also provides information on PBCS and career ladder opportunities available to Syracuse teachers and principals. This site utilizes “Teacher Match,” an online assessment tool completed during the district’s application process for employment, which provides information to the district regarding a teacher’s impact on student achievement and a PD report utilized by mentors and principals to better assist teachers during their first year in the district: http://joinsyracusecityschools.com/.

On-line application system has been able to reach many more candidates. Prior-were only using the local newspaper.  Teacher Match is the first step- have developed 100 questions to determine the strongest candidates- color coding system moves the most appropriate candidates to the next step in the process.                 

Development

Syracuse  is committed to implementing a comprehensive TLE Continuum to strengthen teacher and leader effectiveness and provide incentivized opportunities for professional growth. The district’s partnerships with the American Federation of Teachers/New York State United Teachers has supported their expansion of career ladder pathway opportunities including preparation for advanced roles for highly effective teachers and provision of district wide and building-level support and training.  The principals’ association has been a key partner in implementing the principal pathways and associated professional development.

Syracuse acknowledged their need to build internal capacity and designed the New Principal Induction Program. This induction program allows Principal Leaders to fulfill additional leadership roles including Principal Consultant, Content Developer, Mentor Principal, Model Principal, PLC Lead, Assistant Induction Lead and Induction Lead. These roles and responsibilities include conducting monthly induction activities, mentoring, developing content such as the new principal handbook, and providing specialized supports to new principals.   

Syracuse schedules Saturday Academies during the school year, providing educators with learning opportunities outside of the school day. Courses at each Saturday Academy are aligned to the Regents Reform Agenda and specific domains in the district’s Teaching and Learning rubric or Danielson rubric. Syracuse has worked with Insight Education Group to build additional professional development opportunities in three target areas: questioning strategies, measuring and monitoring student growth, and deep conceptual knowledge.

In addition to expanding their PD through Saturday Academies, they continue to train administrators and instructional coaches on providing high quality PD. The district assesses the quality of PD by conducting a comparison of PD attendance against the observation scores received by teachers as part of their evaluation. The analysis and enhancements to PD allow Syracuse to build capacity district-wide as well as continue their work toward sustainability.

Retention

Syracuse has worked with Croft and Joftus to implement human capital strategies, including a “teacher vacancy forecast” model that identifies key components for openings in the teacher pipeline, allowing the district to forecast openings in specific grades and subjects. Coupled with a robust program of job-embedded professional development delivered, in part, by the Teacher Leaders in each school, the district is able to bolster its retention strategies.

Improving retention decisions for probationary teachers is part of a broader talent management strategy: 1. To design and implement a rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation system that accurately differentiates effectiveness and aligns more than historical evaluation data with student outcomes. 2. Provide professional development and coaching for teachers and school leader that is not only appropriate and intensive, but is differentiated based on student achievement data and evaluation data. 3. Implement integrated and aligned performance management structures and supports using evaluation data to inform the development and equitable distribution of effective educators.

Equitable Access

In 2012, Syracuse adopted a five-year strategic plan entitled “Great Expectations” that prioritizes evidence-based decision making and results-oriented performance management across all levels of the district. The strategic plan is further articulated through transformational goals, one of which is “providing all students with equitable access to rigorous curriculum with aligned instructional materials and assessments in all subjects and all grade levels”. To this end, Syracuse has redistributed its Effective and Highly Effective teaching staff across its schools. 

Other Areas of Focus

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

Through its partnership with Insight Education Group, Syracuse has worked to develop, refine, and evaluate the implementation of the new college and career ready standards aligned teacher and principal evaluation instruments. Syracuse continues to leverage the expertise of Peer Observers to provide formal and informal observations and opportunities for teachers to grow in a collegial atmosphere.

Evidence-Based Instruction

Since the inception of its five-year strategic plan in 2012, Syracuse has prioritized evidence-based decision making and results-oriented performance management across all levels of the district. 

Areas of Impact

The Syracuse 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
  • 21 out of 25 schools showed improvement in the percentage of students who achieved or exceeded proficiency from 2012-13 to 2013-14 on New York State (NYS) Math assessments.
  • Increased the four year graduation rate for all students by 4% from 51.9% in August 2013 to 56% in August 2014.
  • The district offered recruitment/ transfer awards of $6,000 to teachers and select ancillary staff who accepted a new position at one of the district's seven Innovation Zone schools.
  • Provided all students at all grade levels in all subjects with instruction based on coherent and aligned curricula, instructional materials, and assessments with the support of teacher leaders.
Early Impact on Talent Management System
  • Through the Talent Management Coach, supported through STLE, the district afforded 1,440 hours of additional support for administrators during the 2013-14 school year as compared to the previous year.
  • Elementary and K-8 school administrators as well as peer observers were required to be certified through Teachscape with more rigorous standards in the 2014-15 school year as compared to previous years.
  • All teachers with Teacher Improvement Plans (TIPs) completed professional development aligned with specific areas identified for growth. The number of optional professional development hours completed by teachers during 2013-14 set a district record of 41,268 hours as compared to 35,825 hours in 2012-13 and 26,918 hours in 2011-12.
  • Contracted with Insight Education Group to develop, refine, and evaluate the implementation of the new college and career ready standards aligned teacher and principal evaluation instruments.

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
  • Standard teacher responsibilities.
  • Attend professional development above and beyond basic district requirements
  • Highly effective or Effective educator for 2 consecutive years
  • Complete the entire school year in “good standing”
  • Opens classroom
  • Can provide at least 6 Leadership Points earned through PD and other activities
$2,000 combined STLE/TIF stipend

TBD

Professional Teacher
  • Standard teacher responsibilities.
  • Attend professional development above and beyond basic district requirements.
  • Open classroom to model effective classroom instruction and classroom management.
  • Highly Effective or Effective educator for 2 consecutive years
  • Completed prior school year in good standing
  • Can provide at least 9 Leadership Points earned through PD and other activities
$3,000 combined STLE/TIF stipend

TBD

Teacher Leader

Mentor Teachers:

  •  Provide intensive support for 2 early career teachers in all areas of teacher practice.

Multi-Classroom Leaders:

  •  Work to develop a group of teachers in the areas of curriculum development, instruction, and assessment.
Mentor Teachers: $5,500 combined STLE/TIF stipend; Multi-Classroom Leaders: $7,500 $12,500 or $17,500 STLE stipend

Mentor Teachers: 36; Multi-Classroom Leaders: 12

Principal Career Ladder Pathway

Principal Title Roles and Reponsibilities Compensation Number Serving in Role in 2014-15
Novice Principal

Principal Consultant:

  • Share content expertise during principal induction and Leadership Academy sessions.
  • Provides one-to-one coaching to new principals on an as-needed basis.

Content Developer:

  • Create best practice content for distribution (i.e., new principal handbook).
$5,000 combined STLE/TIF stipend 3
Professional Principal

Mentor Principal:

  • Provide mentoring opportunities for up to 4 principals through the new principal induction program
$8,000 combined STLE/TIF stipend 4
Principal Leader

PLC Lead Principal:

  • Design and lead regular principal professional learning communities.

Principal Induction Lead:

  • Designs and implements new principal orientation.
  • Oversees new principal induction activities in coordination with the Office of Talent Management and the Office of Teaching and Learning.

Assistant Induction Leads:

  • Support the design and implementation of new principal orientation and all induction activities in coordination with the Principal Induction Lead.
PLC Lead Principal: $12,000 combined STLE/TIF stipend; Principal Induction Lead: $17,500 STLE stipend; Assistant Induction Lead: $12,500 STLE stipend PLC Lead Principal: 1; Principal Induction Lead: 1; Assistant Induction Lead: 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 1, Syracuse City School District partnered with Insight Education. They collaboratively developed comprehensive frameworks outlining teacher and principal expectations, developed new rubrics to evaluate teacher and principal performance, and supported the first year of full implementation of these systems. To read more about this work: Syracuse City School District: A Case Study in Teacher and Leader Effectiveness
  • Syracuse has developed a systemic plan that is aimed at creating an educational community that graduates every student as a responsible, active citizen prepared for success in college, careers, and the global economy.  For further information, please see their STLE and TIF Update
  • The Mentor Teacher Training PowerPoint presentation was designed as an introduction and training tool for Syracuse City School District educators who will serve as career ladder pathway mentor teachers and includes interactive activities and opportunities to actively engage in the learning.
  • In Syracuse, the position of Peer Observer is designed to work as a highly effective teacher and a model of strong instructional practice in specifically designated transformation areas. Within this capacity, Peer Observers serve as impartial, third-party evaluators of teacher performance, provide teachers with targeted, content-specific feedback and resources; and provide instructional capacity to support SCSD reform initiatives. The Peer Observer Application includes the peer observation job description, duties and responsibilities and qualifications for this position. 
  • The Syracuse City School District created a new recruitment site in February 2014 titled “We’re All In, Are You?” This new microsite provides a profile of the district and profiles for a diverse group of teachers, principals and district staff. The microsite also provides information on career ladder pathway opportunities available to Syracuse teachers and principals. This site utilizes “Teacher Match,” an online assessment tool completed during the district’s application process for employment, which provides information to the district regarding a teacher’s impact on student achievement and a PD report utilized by mentors and principals to better assist teachers during their first year in the district.
  • 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. 

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