Big Changes in Big Spring

by | October 15, 2015

What can a rural, 4,000-student district do to attract and retain teachers, and support many brand-new teachers? In “Reconsidering the Traditional Model: Big Spring ISD Works to Build Teacher Career Pathways,” Cindy Clegg writes in the Texas Lone Star about how and why the Big Spring school district is creating an Opportunity Culture.

A publication of the Texas Association of School Boards, the Texas Lone Star takes an in-depth look at the multi-classroom model being used in combination with paraprofessional support to extend the reach of great teachers to many more students and teachers, within regular budgets–from choosing the model to carefully selecting the multi-classroom leaders–who lead a team, coaching, co-planning, and supporting the team, while continuing to teach themselves.

Texas has created a statewide initiative to introduce Opportunity Culture to interested districts. “We are trying to build statewide capacity for school improvement,” says Mark Baxter, director of school improvement and support for the Texas Education Agency.

Big Spring is starting with six multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) at three campuses, who each earn a $10,000 supplement, funded through teacher vacancies and larger classes, which have increased paraprofessional support. Although Opportunity Culture school redesign models do not require larger classes, Big Spring chose to go from 22 to 30 students because, says School Improvement Director Heidi Wagner, “Would you rather have 30 kids in front of one excellent teacher or 22 in front of a mediocre teacher?”

Read the full article here.

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