Board looks at career progression for teachers
Developing career pathways with opportunities for all Iowa teachers is a top priority in the education agenda of Gov. Terry Branstad and Jason Glass, director of Iowa Department of Education, said Art Sathoff, Fairfield school superintendent.
He shared with the Fairfield school board Monday 13 recommendations issued by the state’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation Task Force that met March to October at the request of Branstad and Glass.
“The goal is for teachers to see the roadmap of career progression,” said Sathoff.
He highlighted three more recommendations made by the task force:
• Review existing allocations and use these funds strategically to enhance teacher compensation and create leadership opportunities.
• Provide time for local planning and implementation inclusive of teachers in the decision-making process.
• Create a residency year for entry into the teaching profession to build a more seamless transition from teacher preparation to practice/employment.
“The residency year, the first year of teaching, is like the mentoring program we currently use,” said Sathoff.
“Other program components are raising the base teacher salary to $35,000, improving entry into teaching profession, enhance professional opportunities, address critical labor market issues and align professional development to support system,” said Sathoff.
Funding and implementation recommendations include establishing a commission of educational leadership and compensation; build upon existing statute and sustain funding and implementation; and set boundaries but allow districts to customize.
“My concerns are about funding and the impact on collective bargaining and our existing contract,” said Sathoff. “It’s a departure from our salary schedule used now that’s based on years in service.
“I’m also concerned about putting teachers in uncomfortable or contentious roles. I don’t want to create contention among teachers.
“Keep your ears open, we’ll be hearing a lot about this in the Legislature this year,” he said.
The proposed steps in Iowa teacher leadership pathway include:
• Initial teacher — residency year, 75 percent of time spent in classroom teaching students; 25 percent of time spent with mentor teacher.
• Career teacher — the next step; where a majority of teachers could stay throughout their careers.
• Model teacher — is used in the school to work with student teachers and provide demonstrations, or “modeling’ effective teaching practices.
• Mentor teacher — spends 70 percent of time in classroom teaching students; leads professional development for other teachers.
• Lead teacher — spends 50 percent of time in classroom teaching students; plans professional development.
• Administration — principals, superintendents, etc.
Board member Jeri Kunkle, a retired Fairfield elementary music teacher, said she is concerned that mentoring and lead teachers don’t spend more time in the classroom teaching students.
“Those will be the best, top teachers and they’re needed in the classroom,” she said.
Sathoff said it would be more difficult on smaller school districts.
In other news, administrators celebrated students earning all-state honors in activities from choir to sports.
“We have intelligent athletes,” said Jeff Courtright, activities director. “All of our fall sports teams were rated excellent or distinguished in academics. And all of our fall sports extended play past the regular season.”
Courtright reported the average grade point averages for fall sports teams.
“This takes into account every team member from freshmen to seniors,” he said.
• Football — 93 team members and a team average 3.04 GPA.
• Boys cross country — 14 team members and a team average 3.35 GPA.
• Volleyball — 41 team members and a team average 3.43 GPA.
• Girls cross country — 17 team members and a team average 3.48 GPA.
• Cheerleaders, football — 21 members and a team average 3.55 GPA.
• Girls swim and diving — 13 members and a team average 3.68 GPA.