Scalable Secondary-Level School Models Increase Teacher Pay, Planning Time

by | October 24, 2013

Recently, I was chatting with a secondary school-level teacher who co-leads her teacher-run charter school. In her school, scheduling and staffing deliberately provide abundant teacher collaboration time and teacher-leadership, crucial for teachers to innovate and improve as they serve the school’s high-need population. She asked, “Emily, how can we make models like this scalable and appealing to more schools, so that districts use them, too?”

We have just released our latest calculations in the Opportunity Culture® series, which indicate that middle and high school teachers who use blended learning and lead teaching teams can earn 20 to 67 percent more, within current budgets, and without class-size increases. This requires new school models with redesigned teacher roles that extend the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students. Using these models, teachers also gain 5 to 15 additional school hours weekly to plan and improve instruction collaboratively.

In our quest to reach all students with excellent teachers by 2025, the Public Impact® team previously published several detailed models that use job redesign and technology to reach more students with excellent teachers, for more pay, within budget. Our latest analysis considers two of these models at the secondary level: “Time-Technology Swaps” (a.k.a. blended learning that keeps teaching excellence in mind), and these swaps combined with Multi-Classroom Leadership. We summarize all of our financial analyses here.

In Financial Planning for Secondary-Level Time-Technology Swap + Multi-Classroom Leadership, we calculated the savings and costs to determine how much schools can increase teacher pay under typical conditions, and here’s what we found:

  • Swapping a portion of teacher time with age-appropriate digital instruction (“blended learning”) or offline homework-at-school time can pay all teachers up to 26 percent more
  • Multi-classroom teacher-leaders, chosen for their instructional excellence and leadership, who lead teams of blended-learning teachers can earn up to 67 percent more, even when team members continue to earn 20 percent more than usual

By teaching more students and achieving excellence in teams, teachers can earn more from existing per-pupil funding, even after new costs for technology and additional paraprofessional support. Though the pay increases and savings made possible for any specific school will depend on local factors, this brief provides a starting point for districts, schools, and teachers to develop their own projections.

In our Time-Technology Swap—Rotation model, students alternate between learning with teachers and working in a digital learning lab, where they learn online and engage in offline skill practice, homework, and project work. Many secondary teachers include such time now in regular class periods. Instead, this model consolidates this time into alternating days with paraprofessional supervision, allowing substantial pay increases for teachers. This frees teachers to teach more students, adds 5 to 15 hours of weekly time to plan and review student work, and allows teaching teams to collaborate and learn on the job during school hours.

Adding Multi-Classroom Leaders (MCLs) provides a teaching team with an excellent teacher with leadership skills who is accountable for all of the team’s students in a subject and for team members’ job-embedded development. MCLs lead teams of teachers and paraprofessionals to deliver instruction that meets each teacher-leader’s standard of excellence to all students in covered subjects.

We show calculations when students learn online every other day in four core subjects, spending a maximum average of two hours daily in a digital learning lab. In this model, core teachers reach 50 percent more students. MCLs reach 100 percent of the students in a subject within their school (in larger high schools, possibly splitting responsibility with one or two others in the same subject).

Teachers at pilot schools using these models have responded enthusiastically to new opportunities to lead teams and learn, as team members, from outstanding peers. The first two districts received about 30 applications per “reach” position last year in previously hard-to-staff schools—making sustainably higher pay and increased planning time good not just for teachers, but for districts, too. See our case studies for more information, and watch for more case studies coming soon.

Next up: Exactly how does digital instruction enable higher pay? Watch this space for a brief explanation.

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