Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Selecting Staff for Career Ladder Positions

By Emily Douglas-McNab — November 22, 2011 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

One of the great things about my job is that I have the honor of working with some of the most innovative, creative, and gutsy school-based organizations. For instance, my colleagues and I just returned from a trip to Phoenix, Arizona, where we are working with the Maricopa County Education Service Agency (ESA) on teacher and principal selection processes for their new career ladder program.

Career ladders have become more and more popular in education. When developed correctly, they provide opportunities for high-performing educators to advance professionally, often while allowing them to maintain a presence where they are needed the most--in classrooms. This is in stark contrast to the traditional method of career advancement in schools, which often asks effective teachers to choose between working directly with students or moving into higher-paying administrative positions.

There has been mixed reaction to career ladders in education. Some districts are exploring career ladder systems that integrate professional development, evaluations and compensation. These are a talent manager’s dream come true. However, due to poorly-executed reform efforts in other districts and states, some educators now view “career ladders” as a bad word.

Six districts within Maricopa County are working to develop tools and processes for selecting career pathway candidates through the REIL (Rewarding Excellence in Instruction and Leadership). Maricopa County ESA received a $51.5 million Teacher Incentive Fund grant to support this work.

Maricopa County ESA aims to place more than 500 teachers and principals in five career pathways: Master Educator, Turnaround Teacher, Turnaround Principal, Peer Evaluators, and In-Demand Teachers. I know no other districts that have attempted to place that many people in career ladder roles.

Maricopa County ESA engaged Battelle for Kids as a partner to help carry out this large-scale initiative. We are working with district leadership to develop a multiple data point hiring system that is reliable, valid, transparent, and sustainable. (Everyone’s ultimate dream!) The following is a list of 15 “things to remember,” when designing selection systems for career ladder programs:

1. It’s ALL about the kids; don’t lose sight!
2. Every hire is important. Retaining top employees makes a world of difference.
3. Communication is KEY.
4. Transparency brings trust.
5. The district career ladder program should further the district’s strategy.
6. Talent and performance management through aligned systems is the goal (Do data management, evaluation, recruitment, compensation, and recognition systems align?)
7. Identify and rely on your core competencies.
8. Hiring should be one piece of a strategic, comprehensive human capital development system.
9. These programs take time, MAKE IT!
10. Know the law...and if you don’t, call your legal counsel.
11. Have a consistent hiring and selection process and stick to it!
12. Customer service is critical. When hiring, the interviewee is trying to decide if he/she wants to be part of your organization. At the same time, you’re trying to decide if that person is a good fit.
13. Using multiple measures (as long as they’re the RIGHT measures) reduces error or bias.
14. Always think about sustainability; not just in a financial context, but programmatically as well.
15. Change is hard, but not changing can be disastrous.

An important part of growing talent in schools means putting people in the best position to maximize their skills and contribution to the organization. When done right, career ladders have the potential to accelerate the growth of talented teachers and principals and lead to improved results for students.

The opinions expressed in K-12 Talent Manager 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.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Reported Essay Teachers Are Not OK, Even Though We Need Them to Be
The pandemic has put teachers through the wringer. Administrators must think about staff well-being differently.
6 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read
Teaching Profession With Vaccine Mandates on the Rise, Some Teachers May Face Discipline
With a vaccine now fully FDA-approved, more states and districts will likely require school staff get vaccinated. The logistics are tricky.
9 min read
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state in Hayward, Calif., on Feb. 19, 2021. California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant.
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic in Hayward, Calif. California is among those states requiring all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
Terry Chea/AP