Highly effective teachers staying in Houston ISD

Lauren Williams's picture
Friday, November 8, 2013

Teachers whose students show the most academic achievement gains are more likely to continue teaching in Houston ISD classrooms, according to the latest staff retention data.

HISD has consistently posted an annual overall teacher retention rate of 83-84 percent since launching the Effective Teachers Initiative (ETI) in 2010. The ETI, which uses data to ensure that HISD classrooms are staffed with effective teachers, has shown particularly strong returns with teachers rated highly effective. The recently released retention rate data for highly effective teachers based on student academic growth data is 88 percent. Students taught by these highly effective teachers experience more than one year’s worth of academic growth in a single year.

There are other clear signs that HISD’s work to recruit, develop, and retain highly effective teachers is working. Since 2010, HISD has been transforming the way new teachers are recruited and selected, while also providing teachers with the professional support and development they need. The number of applicants for HISD teaching jobs in 2013-2014 nearly doubled to 10,578. This helped the district begin the school year with 99.7 percent of all teaching positions filled, which means fewer students being taught by temporary substitutes.

“This is encouraging news because it shows that teachers who have a track record of helping students make strong academic growth are coming to work in HISD, and they are staying,” said Superintendent Terry Grier. “No single factor has more direct impact on learning than the quality of the teacher in the classroom, and the quality of teachers in HISD schools has never been better.”

As HISD moves forward, it is focused on helping teachers build long, productive careers that keep them in classrooms where they have an incredible impact on student learning. Now in its second year, HISD’s Career Pathways program gives more than 200 teachers the chance to serve in leadership roles on their campus, while paying them more money for their hard work. Traditionally, top teachers have been forced to accept administrative jobs in order to earn higher pay.

“Teachers shouldn’t have to leave the classroom in order to advance their careers,” Dr. Grier said. “In HISD, we want to encourage more of our best teachers to stay where they are needed most – in classrooms working directly with students.”

HISD is supporting 223 teacher leaders on 63 campuses with teacher leadership roles which include instructional practice coach, intervention specialist, data tracking and analyst specialist, campus induction coach, instructional technology specialist, and STEM instructional leader.

Other ways HISD is supporting great teaching:

  • Teacher Development Specialist job-embedded coaching: Unlike most districts, HISD has a team of 130 Teacher Development Specialists who work hand-in-hand with teachers inside and outside of the classroom. These specialists provide instructional coaching and a lifeline of training and support. Teacher Development Specialists are experienced educators with a track record of success in increasing student achievement and building teacher capacity.
  • Investment in teacher training: HISD provides a robust menu of teacher training opportunities including “just-in-time” literacy, math, science, social studies, technology, STEM, Advanced Placement, fine arts, health and physical education, special populations, and new teacher training, etc. during the summer and school year. HISD teachers participate in a minimum of 45 hours of professional development a year with opportunities to exceed 100 hours. HISD also partners with Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Houston, and the University of St. Thomas to provide top-notch teacher and leadership training. In addition to campus-based staff development resources, HISD allocates an average of nearly $2,500 centrally per teacher for professional development each year.
  • HISD showcases and recognizes great teaching: Professional Support and Development has created an online library of great resources to support teachers and recognize excellence. In particular, the district has produced 20 video exemplars and 72 effective practices highlighting some our best teachers and what they do to increase student achievement. The video exemplars and effective practices recognizing HISD effective teaching are available anytime, anywhere on www.houstonisdpsd.org.