Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds touted the Teacher Leadership and Compensation plan Monday. The plan takes experienced teachers and makes them mentors and coaches for less experienced teachers.
The plan is in its second year and Reynolds says all districts will have a plan in place in the next school year. “When fully phased in in the 2016 and 2017 school year, Iowa’s Teacher Leadership system will invest $150 million a year. And this is a critical investment and one that we are really proud to be making,” Reynolds says.
The Department of Education released information today on the first 39 districts to take part in the program, and those numbers show the other 299 schools had better overall improvement than the first ones in the program. Education Department director, Ryan Wise, says is because the first districts to implement the plans are large urban districts.
“Those districts have higher levels of students qualifying for free and reduced price lunch — a higher need population of students. And so, to see growth across all measures is a positive trend,” Wise says. “I would also add, at the same time we see growth, this is also a big transition for districts.” The schools with the TLC program saw an increase of three-tenths of a percent in reading scores, and two-tenths of a percent in math. The schools without the program saw a 1.1 percent increase in reading and three-tenths of a percent in math.
Wise says there is an adjustment period for the new system.”Those teachers taking on these leadership roles are doing so for the first time. And are being trained up and skilled in how to really work effectively with adults,” Wise explains, “and now it is a transition to have the same impact on adults. So, we expect those results to only grow over time.” Wise says he has heard good things about the program from the districts involved.
The Council Bluffs School District was one of the first to implement the plan, and Superintendent Martha Bruckner, says they’ve been pleased with their results.
“Our Iowa assessments in 2014, the district showed increased achievement in 16 of 20 grade level tests in math and reading,” Bruckner says. Bruckner says other surveys also found improvement in district performance, and there was an increase in morale among teachers.
Council Bluffs teacher, Samantha Adams talked about her experience with the program. She says it helped to have someone else review her teaching and help her. “I didn’t even realize changes were needed. We began with weekly discussions about the instruction I was doing and the student data I was seeing,” Adams says. “She asked me questions I had never thought of — some of which revealed that there were things about my teaching that could be vastly improved.”
Adams says it helped to have an outside look at her work. “Our discussion and refleciton made me realize I was teaching to the majority — rather than ensuring that each student was challenged to go further and do better. The discussions forced me to reflect on things that I could do in my instruction that would increase all students’ achievement,” according to Adams. “I am not going to lie and say that that was easy to beging seriously reflecting on my current practices and collaborating on ways to get better and improve student achievement. It was seriously challenging work, and I could not have done it alone.”
The state approved $3.5 million in planning grants in the 2014 fiscal year for all Iowa school districts and then $50 million for the 2015 fiscal year for the actual plans. An additional $50 million was approved for the 2016 fiscal year schools to implement programs, and another $50 million will be added in the 2017 fiscal year.