Depew Union Free School District
Total STLE Award
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.
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 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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- 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).
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.
- 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|
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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||
|Early Impact on Talent Management System||
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|
Lighthouse Team Teacher:
Response to Intervention (RtI) Coordinator:
|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
Principal Career Ladder Pathway
|Principal Title||Roles and Reponsibilities||Compensation||Number Serving in Role in 2014-15|
|$1,500 stipend||Lighthouse Leader: 4; Professional Principal: 3|
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.
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.
We encourage you to continue to contribute to the on-going conversation on Twitter by sharing your work using #STLE.