Appendix 3-1

The Role of the Administrator in Teacher Retention

 

            The strategies offered in this appendix expand upon the suggestions regarding management practices that support teacher retention made in Section Three: The Role of the Administrator in Teacher Retention. The appendix is presented in the form of a self-assessment instrument that can be used to help educators identify areas of strengths and needs. This instrument contains an extensive list of strategies, but should not be seen as the only interventions possible.

             Before conducting an assessment, a school or district team should review the instrument and use only the relevant items. The team should feel free to add additional items if needed. Once the data is gathered, the team should analyze the information, then design and implement improvement strategies that address specific issues that are identified.


Assessment Category: Leadership/Decision Making

Topic 1: Building/district support for teachers

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

The superintendent, principal and/or special education administrator are involved in a formal teacher retention initiative.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 2: Policies/procedures that support teachers

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

All teachers, including special educators, have clear, written job descriptions.

Job descriptions are used to define the roles of para-educators.

Job descriptions focus on the specific requirements of various roles, and are not overly broad or otherwise unrealistic.

Job descriptions are actively used to shape expectations for personnel.

The field of special education has changed its emphasis from separate programs for students with disabilities, to one that is based in the regular program and curriculum for nearly all students. The rapidity of this change can mean that the organizational structure of special education programs and services no longer supports the newer ways in which teachers meet the needs of their students. Programs and service delivery systems may need to be reviewed and redesigned to ensure that they efficiently and effectively support the learning of students with disabilities in terms of current best practice.

Special educators and special education programs focus on the learning and/or development of students with disabilities. These personnel and programs can easily be overwhelmed by students with clear needs but who are not correctly identified as having a disability. The needs of students for whom motivation or discipline issues are the main concern, for example, can be better met in other ways.

An organizational chart is used as a tool for visualizing the extent to which special education teachers and programs are isolated or integrated within the system. It can also help clarify issues related to supervisory and peer relationships and help to illustrate unrealized functional relationships among staff members.

There is an inclusive school philosophy in which all personnel share the responsibility for educating all students, and the unique contributions of special education personnel are understood and appreciated.

Special education personnel are considered regular and fully integrated members of the professional team, and in practice, this means that they have the opportunity to be full participants in the same professional, extracurricular and school-based social activities as other faculty and share school-wide responsibilities similar to their peers.

Because special educators typically have case management and paperwork responsibilities that other members of the professional team do not, overall workload is considered when special educators assume school-wide responsibilities. Issues related to fair and balanced personnel workloads are addressed in thoughtfully developed policy statements and management practices.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 3: Teacher influence over curriculum and instruction

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Educators’ responsibilities center around activities that promote learning, rather than on clerical, housekeeping or management tasks.

Remember that a key purpose of professional education and training is to master the essential knowledge and skills needed to be competent in a chosen field. Trained, experienced educators are generally fully capable of making good decisions regarding their students, and they should be permitted and encouraged to exercise their professional judgment.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 4: Appropriate class assignments 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

There is periodic assessment of the match between individuals’ skills and their job requirements in order to support the development of both new competencies in current staff as well as the identification of personnel who are ready for new professional opportunities.

New teachers are given the least desirable courses and classrooms, as well as the most challenging groups of students.

Teaching assignments are aligned with certification, and take into consideration a teacher’s experience.

First year teachers have a reduced workload.

Policies permit veteran teachers to transfer to easier assignments or more desirable environments, leaving the more challenging jobs to new teachers.

Policies permit general education teachers to “bump” special education teachers as a result of reductions in the teaching force.

Paraprofessionals have appropriate credentials and experience.

Paraprofessionals are deployed in accordance with their individual skills and abilities and are not pressed into service that is inappropriate on the basis of their credential, their abilities, or their experience.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 5: Adequate pay scales and financial incentives

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

District-level administrators and school board members establish equitable pay scales and benefit packages in consort with the teacher unions or other representative organizations.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 6: Equitable application of licensing and certification regulations 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Only properly certified teachers are employed in order to build a quality, stable workforce.

District personnel make few exceptions when hiring fully certified professionals for special education positions.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 7: Induction and mentoring 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Distinguishing novice teachers from those with more experience provides a natural lead-in to providing novices with the special support they need as they settle into their roles and begin to lock in their skills.

Mentoring or induction programs create a new and important role for experienced educators, who typically find it rewarding and revitalizing to help beginning teachers master their craft.

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Category: School Climate

 

Topic 1: Comprehensive student support and discipline systems

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Student disciplinary policies typically set parameters on acceptable behavior and specify consequences for infractions. Within these mechanisms, teachers have the latitude to manage the behavior of their students, and to invoke the specialized disciplinary provisions of the IDEA when appropriate.

 

Disciplinary policies and practices should seamlessly include the mechanisms specified in the IDEA that help schools to respond appropriately and constructively to students whose unacceptable behavior is a manifestation of their disability. Teachers’ need for information, training and other resources in this area is assessed and addressed.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 2: Focus on student results and outcomes

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Student assessment is typically regulated by established testing programs and articulated grading policies. Within these mechanisms, teachers have the latitude to assess and rate their students’ performance, and to help determine when students with disabilities require alternative means of assessment.

 

School policies and practices that support high educational standards and appropriate educational experiences for all students, including those with disabilities, are in place.

 

Administrative practices and operating procedures support excellent teaching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 3: Safe environment

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Special education teachers and programs are assigned space in the same areas of the school as other teachers and classes.

 

The instructional and workspace assigned to special educators and students with disabilities (when it is functionally necessary for their spaces to be separate from regular classrooms and offices) is equivalent in terms of functionality, comfort and attractiveness. The amount and type of space allocated for various types of activities is appropriate for the activities being conducted.

 

Instructional areas are conducive to learning, and faculty workspace is functional and as pleasant as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 4: Climate of respect

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Expectations for educational personnel are well known to staff, parents and other members of the educational community. (This can be accomplished both by making relevant information widely available and by promoting the visibility of teachers as they successfully fulfill their roles.)

 

The school is an inclusive community where the education of all students is a shared responsibility, and special education students and teachers are not isolated or marginalized. 

 

 

 

 


Assessment Category: Infrastructure

 

Topic 1: Number of students

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Appropriate special education caseload is not simply a matter of numbers of students assigned. Caseloads are determined by considering multiple factors, including the complexity of individual cases, the severity of students’ disabilities, the number of different disability types served, and the range of students’ needs because all of these factors interact to influence the manageability of a teaching assignment.

 

Whenever classes or caseloads are being assigned, general caseload guidelines are used in conjunction with consideration of specific student characteristics and needs to determine if the proposed caseload is realistic and appropriate.

 

Paraprofessionals, clerical staff, interns, volunteers and others are better choices than teachers to handle tasks that do not require an individual with full professional competencies.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 2: Team teaching

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Special education personnel have adequate opportunities to communicate and work in conjunction with other professionals who have the same specialty areas.

 

Schools have natural mechanisms that provide for and encourage student-centered collaboration between regular and special educators.

 

 

 

 


Topic 3: Planning time available 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Time is specifically allotted for important non-instructional activities such as teacher collaboration and planning, parent meetings, paraprofessional supervision or IEP development.

 

Special education personnel within the same jurisdiction have structured opportunities such as common planning time to work with each other to identify and address service delivery issues and improve local professional practice.

 

Teachers have sufficient time allocated to reasonably fulfill their professional responsibilities.

 

Tasks requiring non-professional or lower skills levels are reassigned to paraprofessionals or other non-instructional staff, or by adjusting teacher caseload.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 4: Curriculum guidelines

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Teachers can select methods and materials within the curriculum frameworks that are typically available to provide scope and coherence to instruction.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 5: Adequate supply of materials

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Necessary teaching tools are on hand or readily available. (Suppliers can often provide sample materials to supplement what a school is able to purchase. Service organizations can sometimes supplement limited budget allocations for special materials or equipment. Programs that prepare teachers can sometimes loan curriculum materials, especially if they have an established relationship with a school or particular teacher.)

 

Administrators consider the degree to which various types of resources are available to teachers in all areas, especially when they have significant responsibilities for students with disabilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 6: Technology support

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Technical expertise necessary to ensure that computers and other equipment operate properly is readily available.

 

Proper software is loaded and operating.

 

The necessary peripherals such as printers or network connections are available and working.

 

Personnel have the information and training to efficiently and effectively use technology resources.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 7: Overwhelming paperwork

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Lengthy IEPs are not necessarily better IEPs! Training is provided to help personnel write shorter, more focused and effective IEPs.

 

Paperwork requirements in all areas, including special education, are streamlined, and unnecessary, duplicative and marginally useful reporting or documentation is eliminated.

 

Forms are easy to use, clear and well organized. (Checkboxes and similar design features, where appropriate, can be easier to use than fill-in-the-blanks. Cues and reference material can be integrated into pre-printed and computer-based forms to eliminate confusion and the need to look up information. Related documents should work together as an integrated set.)

 

Documents that are used by more than one organization or unit within an organization are uniform and compatible.

 

Documents are routed in the simplest way that will support their function.

 

Information is easy to find and readily accessible to those who need to use it.

 

There is unnecessary duplication of information stored.

 

Filing systems are uniform across the organization.

 

Some of the responsibility for special education paperwork and process is reassigned to clerical staff, paraprofessional personnel or program assistants to reduce the impact of paperwork demands on education professionals without having a negative effect on students or learning.

 

Staff members who are responsible for creating or using documents are well versed regarding their purpose, preparation and use, and training and related guidance materials are routinely provided.

 

Computer-based technology to ease the paperwork burden on educators is used whenever possible. (It is possible to enhance virtually all aspects of document and data handling through the use of technology, including: the mechanics of document preparation; the content of documents in terms of accuracy, completeness and quality; transmission and security issues; and information aggregation and analysis.) 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Category: Content/Skills

 

Topic 1: Opportunities for professional development

 

Never

Seldom

Most of the time

Always

Ongoing, high quality and relevant professional development opportunities are available to ensure that teachers are able to assist their students to perform to high standards despite an ever-changing social context, increasing student needs and evolving professional practice.

Job designs reflect differing skill levels, experience, and focus areas to provide stimulating career development opportunities for teachers.

Teachers have opportunities to learn new skills and develop their leadership potential from curriculum development to community outreach.

Teachers have significant input into the determination of their individual and collective needs for continuing professional development that references organizational goals and priorities, current and emerging professional practice, and their own professional needs and goals.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 2: Ability to work with diverse students 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Special education programs focus on the learning and/or development of students with disabilities who are correctly identified, not on students who have needs, such as motivation or discipline, but are not disabled.

School-wide and district-wide assessment programs accommodate the need for some students with disabilities to have alternate, more suitable means of assessing their educational and/or developmental progress.

Teachers’ and administrators’ need for information, training and other resources in alternate assessment is assessed and addressed.

General and special education teachers have a sufficient amount of accurate and relevant information on their students. This includes diagnostic information that clearly relates to educational issues and needs, and IEPs that are well written and include appropriate and realistic expectations for student progress.

There are budgetary and other administrative provisions that allow teachers to have access to highly specialized consultants or service providers to help them work with students with unusually complex disabilities.

Specialized consultants and service professionals who are available to school personnel have been identified.

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Category: Community Involvement and Support

 

Topic 1: System of family communication

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Members of the community are considered consumers and, as such, are periodically updated on district and school-wide issues and included in decision making where appropriate, i.e., hiring, policy development.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 2: Community involvement in support of teachers and student 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the time

3

Always

4

Teachers, parents, administrators on all levels, and the community-at-large work together to develop a shared understanding of realistic and appropriate expectations for educational personnel.

Parents and community members regularly express their goodwill and appreciation for teachers to acknowledge the good work they do.