Rethinking Teacher Compensation to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Several years ago, YES Prep left behind a traditional but antiquated step-and-lane compensation system for teachers and replaced it with our Teacher Continuum. We now base salary decisions on performance, with four salary bands through which teachers can progress over time. As other districts consider how to restructure compensation, here are a few of the key lessons we've learned.


Teacher Evaluation Systems Based on Trust, Transparency, and Growth

As we addressed our share of teacher evaluation challenges at YES Prep, we realized that what we really needed was a system that developed teachers in a meaningful, respectful way so that they could effectively serve their students. Our current teacher development and evaluation system is anchored in our Instructional Excellence Rubric (IER). The following principles for successful teacher evaluation have guided our recent work.


For Teacher Training, On-the-Job, Contextualized Support Is Key

Teacher training has received significant press lately as organizations and researchers try to nail down which programs or program elements best prepare teachers for the classroom. Although this is important work, one factor is glaringly absent from the conversation: context. What we believe will contribute most significantly to a teacher's success is the level of support he or she receives at the school where he or she will actually teach. Realizing this, we created our own teacher training and certification program.


One Secret to Success at YES Prep: Hiring the Right People

Visitors to YES Prep often ask: what's the secret sauce? This week, various folks from YES Prep will be sharing our perspectives on the number one driver of our success in redefining possible for Houston's low-income students: the quality of our people. Let's start with how we attract people to YES Prep and select them into the organization.


Secretary Duncan's Course Correction on Teacher Evaluation

On Thursday, Secretary Duncan took what I believe is an important step in the right direction when he announced that states will be given additional flexibility and more time to get evaluation right. His statements reflected conversations that I have heard from fellow teachers across the country. But here's the big question: Will his announcement really bring about change?


4 Steps to Successfully Personalize Learning in Your School

I wanted to make the most of my last post and touch briefly on 4 steps that I think are critical when launching a personalized learning initiative. This list isn't comprehensive, but I've yet to see a program succeed that didn't take these 4 steps along the way.


How Schools Can Benefit from Personalized Learning—and Keep Data Safe

Decisions about data are fundamental to the process of defining and addressing student needs, but, from my recent conversations, school leaders often feel like they're drowning in it. Introducing personalization into the classroom necessitates protecting student information first and foremost. So how can a school ensure that students stay protected and still see the benefits of personalized instruction?


(Unintentionally) Ironic Blended-Learning Study Shows Principals How to Avoid Critical Mistake

A new study in Educational Technology Research and Development examined how teachers integrate technology into their classrooms and how the professional development they receive supports that. In an ironic twist, the teachers reported that the training on this new technology (which would ostensibly allow them to personalize their classes more easily) was too formal and not personalized to the teachers' needs! So how does a principal avoid becoming a victim of habit and give personalized learning a real opportunity to succeed?


How Schools Accidentally Undermine Their Personalized Learning

For the last few years, I've spent much of my time exploring how to help teachers and school leaders bring effective personalization to their students. Today, discussions of personalization seem to be focused on the specific challenges (and the promise) of the enabling technology. Understandably so. But as we're getting back into the familiar rhythm of buses and morning bells, I think it's helpful to step back and consider just how different a "personalized" approach can be.


One Cage-Buster's Approach to Fixing Education

As a proud NEA member and a US Department of Education Fellow, the most difficult part of my summer was watching my colleagues vent their serious frustrations at both the Secretary of Education AND their own NEA leadership. Neither side is the "bad guy" as both are depicted (depending on the lens through which you view education). But both sides have been wrong at some points and need to come together and be willing to change things based on common ground. So, where do we start?


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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