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Transforming teachers careers

and compensation in North

Carolina: A new vision from some of
our states best teachers
TeacherSolutions team

Karyn Dickerson ! Taylor Milburn ! Doyle Nicholson

Dave Orphal ! Ben Owens ! Sabrina Peacock
Joanna Schimizzi ! Nicole Smith

August 2016

More than half a century ago, the single salary schedule for teachers was designed with good reasons in mind:
to promote gender and racial pay equity, to protect teachers from administrators who might make capricious
employment and pay decisions, and to encourage teachers to pursue advanced academic degrees.
Like the dusty blackboards still found in some classrooms, the single salary schedule has served its purposes,
met its goals, and outlived its usefulness.
With challenges and opportunities before us that were unimaginable even ten years ago, our public schools
need a far more nuanced approach to teachers career pathways and professional compensation. This report
comes at time when a steady stream of research evidence has shown how effective teaching and powerful
student learning are not primarily accomplishments of singular teachers but rather social endeavors that are
best achieved and improved through trusting relationships and teamwork, instead of competition and a focus
on individual prowess.
As this report was being finalized, the NC General Assembly approved a budget that would soon increase the
average annual teacher salary in the state to more than $50,000a much needed boost. But many teachers,
especially the most experienced ones, are left out of these investments. And the proposed additional
bonuses for those who produce higher student tests mirror eerily the failed merit pay plans of the past.
I believe this report, written by a team of accomplished North Carolina teachers, offers powerful solutions to
long-standing problems of how to pay and recognize classroom practitioners. Their report can help bridge
the long-standing communication gap between the makers of school policy and the teaching professionals
who put that policy into action. This report makes it clear that teacher leaders understand the need for school
reformincluding well-crafted incentive pay plans. Most importantly, they know how to apply the research
evidence on what matters most for student achievement along with their much-needed insider school and
community knowledge to help prevent well-intentioned reforms from going awry.
These eight teachers began their investigation in late January 2016, working together in the CTQ
Collaboratory, their virtual community. Their deliberations often continued late into the evenings after their
intensely busy teaching days. They examined the findings of dozens of studies and engaged in deep online
conversations as well as rapid-fire Twitter chats with hundreds of teaching colleagues. This report represents
the first of a number of approaches this CTQ TeacherSolutions team seeks to take to advance the teaching
profession that their students deserve. Read, debate, and consider the wisdom of those who teach our states
children every day.

Barnett Berry, CEO & Partner

Center for Teaching Quality
August 2016

Executive summary
The what and why of this report
This report is about what works best for our North Carolina students, and what kind of teaching profession is
needed to fuel school improvement. It is about the future of teacher career pathways and professional
compensation. Both the principles and recommendations have been assembled by eight highly accomplished
teachers from across our state who engaged in an intensive two-month study of the research evidence and
analysis of their own teaching experiences. These classroom experts worked with hundreds of their
colleagues from across North Carolina to reach their conclusions. They found that more than anything else,
teachers want more opportunities to spread effective teaching practiceswith the ultimate goal of helping all
students learn. And for them, this new compensation system should do just that.
Assertions and findings
The teams vision for the futurerepresented by specific solutions they have designedis based on six
principles they identified. The principles include:

Teacher compensation must begin with sound base pay that values teaching as a profession and
includes additional salary and bonuses that fuel leadership, innovation, and creativity;


The evaluation process for identifying, recognizing, and rewarding teacher leaders must be
transparent and trustworthy;


Informal (as well as formal) leadership roles must be valuedand incentives for leading cannot be
limited to financial ones;


Leadership opportunities must be available for all teachers, not just a few individuals;


Incentives and rewards, like those in top-performing nations, must focus on teachers who spread
their expertise to others; and


School districts must create the right working conditionsincluding principals who know how to
cultivate teacher leadersin order to recruit and retain classroom experts in high-need schools.

Our proposal for teachers moving forward in their careers on the basis of the skills they can demonstrate is
based on the following pillars:
Professional base pay (and if teachers do not deserve a professionally based minimum salary, they
should not be teaching);
Demonstration of a variety of expert skills based on a well-designed and more comprehensive
teaching evaluation system; and
Leadership pathways (both formal and informal roles) for all teachers.
Finally, the report includes some key considerations necessary to ensure teachers have the appropriate tools
to support student learning, which includes time to lead and administrators who support them in doing so.

Loss of Teacher of Year to private industry is heartbreaking, blared a recent Mooresville Tribune headline.
After 18 years of great teaching, Allen Stephens (2015-16 Teacher of the Year in the Mooresville Graded
School District) has left the classroom to work in the private sector. This trend is one many administrators
now say is snowballing across North Carolina. Our colleague left teaching primarily due to a lack of decent
professional salary and overcrowded classrooms, as a recent Mooresville Tribune article reported. But Allen
also told us:
The current climate of uncertainty about the teaching
profession made me feel unappreciated and taken for
granted. . . and I needed to make the best decision for my
own family and make sure Im taking care of their basic
needs as well.
He believes the outlook for our profession in North Carolina is not
brightforcing him to choose to leave the profession altogether. It
is Allens experience, as well as our own, that fuels our vision for the
renewal of teaching in North Carolina. And so does decades of
Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation recently noted that pay
raises should be closely tied to performance as an incentive to keep
the best teachers on the job.1
We agree. But we have discovered that too many teaching policies of
late, particularly related to performance pay, are disconnected from
the evidence on what works in education.
We teach students across North Carolina: from our inner cities, our
suburbs, and our small towns. We have entered teaching through
both traditional and alternative pathways. Some of us served in the
military or worked as professionals in other fields before choosing
to teach in our states public schools. We teach young children,
second language learners, and high school students, one of us with
North Carolinas Virtual Public Schools. One of us is now a principal
who still works closely with teacher leaders. And after ten years in
the classroom, another of us recently resigned due to poor working
conditions and limited opportunities to both teach and lead.
Admittedly, we are only a small sample of the 95,000 teachers across
North Carolina. But like a vast majority of our colleagues, we agree
that a carefully crafted professional compensation system has huge
potential to transform the teaching profession in ways that can help
all students learn more deeply. We do not shy away from the
principle that teachers who perform at high levels deserve

I remember tutoring in some

capacity since I was in
elementary or middle school.
Im passionate about education.
I teach to make a positive
difference in my w orld.
Nicole Smith
Mathematics teacher,
Mooresville Senior High School

I started teaching because I
really believed it was the best
way to impact students and
their families in high-poverty
communities. I knew I had the
ability to reach kids personally
and uniquely: to encourage
them, challenge them, and
nurture them.
Taylor Milburn
Former teacher,
Durham Public Schools

I did not intend to teach and I
found myself in a middle school
classroom, hired as a substitute
before returning to pursue my
doctorate for another
profession. I soon knew that
teaching was my destiny. I
loved establishing relationships
with students, sharing my love
of learning, and helping
students find their own
passions and future goals.
Karyn Dickerson
AP/IB Coordinator,
Grimsley High School

additional compensation for their performance. At the same time, we are certain that many of the pay-for-
performance and career pathway blueprints now on the table will not translate into the high-achieving
schools imagined by their architects. Too many of these reforms have ignored the research on performance
pay, as well as what is known about how teachers lead and support one anothers teaching practice.
Architects of prior performance pay policiesin North Carolina and across the nationhave not heeded
what researchers have long documented. We are certain that a vast majority of teachers want to be paid
differentlyand to be recognized and rewarded for their accomplishments. And our team consistently noted
that these career ladders can no longer be about a few roles for a few teachers. But policymakers seem to
ignore the research about what motivates teachers, and most others, to perform in their jobs at high levels. As
Daniel Pink writes in Drive, true motivation is about autonomy, mastery, and purpose.2 And this is exactly what
needs to be at the core of any new career pathways and compensation system in North Carolina.

A new vision
We have a vision for the future of teaching in North Carolina, and in this report we offer specific
recommendations for building a system of teacher development that advances student learning. Our plan is
founded on six principles that will drive a new approach to career pathways and compensation for teachers:

Teacher compensation must begin with sound base pay that values teaching as a profession and
includes additional salary and bonuses that fuel leadership, innovation, and creativity;


The evaluation process for identifying, recognizing, and rewarding teacher leaders must be
transparent and trustworthy;


Informal (as well as formal) leadership roles must be valuedand incentives for leading cannot be
limited to financial ones;


Leadership opportunities must be available for all teachers, not just a few individuals;


Incentives and rewards, like those in top-performing nations, must focus on teachers who spread
their expertise to others; and


School districts must create the right working conditionsincluding principals who know how to
cultivate teacher leadersin order to recruit and retain classroom experts in high-need schools.

As evidenced by our set of guiding principles, we recognize the need for a more nuanced approach to career
pathways and professional compensationone that acknowledges how teachers learn to improve and what
motivates them to do so. This approach must address the organizational supports that teachers need to be
successful. Our vision of how teachers can advance is three-dimensionallooking more like a matrix than a
traditional career ladder. As Ben Owens, physics and mathematics teacher at Tri-County Early College High
School, explained:
The keys to designing an effective teacher development and pay system will be the concepts of
customization, flexibility, and a myriad of growth optionsnot one-size-fits-all pathways.
Ben observed in a later online conversation, Few professions these days typecast their employees into
narrowly defined roles as we have in teaching. Any teacher, regardless of background or experience, can be a
leader and make positive changes outside his or her classroom.

At the core of our proposal is how our approach will drive the spread of teaching expertise. As Sabrina
Peacock pointed out:
I really like looking at how teams of teachers are helping one another grow. This will encourage more
collaboration than most merit pay plans that suggest teachers focus just on their own classrooms.
We next dig into some lessons learned from a long history of policymakers implementing performance pay
and career ladders for teachers, including more recent efforts in Charlotte-Mecklenburg to create teacher
leadership opportunities. These findings will set the stage for presenting our design.

Past and current efforts: Lessons learned

Calls for improving teaching salaries are not new. For more than 70 years, Americas policymakers have tried
to implement different ways to pay teachers. There have been countless programs, like North Carolinas own
approach in the late 1980s, but they have all come and gone quite quicklyand for many of the same reasons.
In 2004 the Teaching Commission, established and chaired by former IBM Chairman Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.,
called for our nation to commit an additional $30 billion to teacher compensation, to increase base pay by 10
percent for every classroom practitioner, and provide 30 percent more for the top half of them who
performed more effectively. In 2012-13, however, the average salary for public school teachers in the United
States was only $56,000 (and $46,000 for those in North Carolina), substantially less than the average salaries
of nurses ($69,000) and programmers ($83,000). Unfortunately, these proposals have rarely reflected the
lessons of failed efforts from the past. And even worse, new approaches to improve the teaching profession
have seldom come from teacherslike us.
We believe that all teachers being paid on the single salary schedule has served its purposes, met its goals,
and outlived its usefulness. But it is not just about incentive pay. As Ben described in one of our online
conversations via the CTQ Collaboratory, What matters most to me is that I have the freedom to challenge
the status quo, innovate, share, and learn from my peers (and students) on a daily basis. It is important to
note, however, that this high school physics teacher in Murphy was a very successful engineer for 20 years
prior to teaching and can therefore afford the modest salary he earns. Ben noted:
I spent a previous life in a career that gives me the financial independence to be able to say that. Most
of my colleagues do not have the luxury to take this approach.
Researchers have consistently concluded that bonus pay systems yield no positive effect on either student
performance or teachers attitudes toward their jobs. Recent evaluation reports for the federally-funded
Teacher Incentive Fund tell the same story.
North Carolina has had its own history of incentive pay programs to encourage teachers to move to hard-to-
staff schools. And we quickly discover the results mirror what researchers have uncovered elsewhere. For
example, in 2006, the North Carolina General Assembly created a pilot program to award salary supplements
of $15,000 for up to ten early-career teachers who agreed to teach math or science in one of three high-need
school districts: Bertie, Columbus, and Rockingham counties. The districts could attract only a few teachers,
and the program was abandoned.
More recently, from 2010-14, fueled by $76 million in federal Race to the Top funds, North Carolina launched
performance pay initiatives, and once again, they have sputtered. A recent evaluation of the investments

revealed that teachers were not motivated by the financial incentives,

and the program failed to produce any upticks in student achievement.
Evaluators noted that the teachers who reported significant
improvements to either their own or their colleagues practice, often
attributed those changes to learning coaches, professional development
and training, and collaboration and teamworknot to the presence of
the incentive.3 Evaluators found that districts were more effective at
attracting talent to high-need schools when they leveraged their existing
pool of effective teachers rather than recruiting them from elsewhere.4

One in four of our nations

teachers is extremely or very
interested in serving in a hybrid
role where s/he can both teach
students and lead reforms.

We also had a chance to examine some early evidence from Charlotte-

Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), which has supported Project LIFT, an
important effort to close the achievement gap for students and provide
an Opportunity Culture for teachers. These are valuable steps forward
MetLife Survey (2013)
recognizing that improving student learning requires more
comprehensive approaches to reform. In spring 2013, Project LIFT was
flooded with more than 700 applications for approximately two dozen
teacher leader positions in pilot schools, where bonuses (up to $20,000) could be earned for teaching more
students or coaching colleagues. Teachers are hungry to lead, both here in North Carolina and across the
Take Bobby Miles for instance. As a multi-classroom leader (MCL), he continues to teach while leading a team
of three other teachers and two paraprofessionals: co-teaching, coaching, planning, and collaborating with
them. Bobby is personally accountable for the results of the entire teams 421 eighth grade students, but he
also receives higher pay. In just one year, the team achieved a dramatic increase in percentage of students
proficient in sciencefrom 47 to 66 percent. Bobby described why he was interested in the MCL position in a
recent blog:
Before I became an MCL this year, I was a professional development facilitator. I wanted to expand
my reach outside of the classroom and prepare myself for future leadership roles. But I was missing
the classroom a lot, yearning for that daily impact on [students].
Project LIFT certainly recognizes the challenges of closing the achievement gap in under-served and fragile
neighborhoods. Highly effective teachers alone, however, cannot dramatically improve student achievement
without necessary resources and tools. Project LIFT has focused on transforming the culture of teaching and
learning, which includes community investments like wraparound services in these high-need schools. Still,
recent surveys of CMS teachers, including those at Ranson, suggest there is a lot more work to be done.
The good news with Project LIFT, however, is that Ranson teachers are more likely to find their collaboration
time productive (as 67 percent now do) and to report that they can regularly analyze student work against
the standards (79 percent) as well as receive helpful feedback from supervisors through observations (73
percent). And the proportion of teachers responding positively has seen a steady uptick over the last year.
But something is amiss. Only about half of the teachers noted their administrators seek feedback from them
(56 percent) or have put them in charge of something important (49 percent). Furthermore, only 4 in 10
teachers claimed their school leaders identified opportunities for them to pursue leadership roles and only 49

percent noted their administrators publicly recognized them for their accomplishments. Less than half of
the teachers reported that their evaluation ratings were accurate (48 percent) and that the person who
assesses them knows how much growth and progress their students have made this year (46 percent).
The Opportunity Culture system in place has yet to address critical workplace conditions central to teaching
effectiveness. The survey results are stark.
Only 21 percent of teachers reported their workload is sustainable;
Only 28 percent of teachers noted they can provide input on their work schedules; and
Only 26 percent of teachers claimed they can consistently accomplish essential work during [their]
regular planning time.
In addition, a woefully small percentage of teachers (5 percent) are satisfied with their compensationand
just one-half of those responding believe they will have adequate, longterm career opportunities while
working at CMS.*
A recent Charlotte Observer article quoted Denise Watts, Learning Community Superintendent of Project LIFT,
who noted that teaching in these schools can take an emotional toll as a large number of students deal with
a host of issuesincluding homelessness and neighborhood violencebeyond the control of even a highly
skilled teacher.5 As Joanna Schimizzi pointed out in one of our team discussions:
Many teachers, even effective ones, are not prepared for high-need schools. Many of them do not
believe they can lead in these schools as they have had no preparation for the roles they may play.
Sabrina, a teacher at a Title I school in High Point, reminded us that the current teaching evaluation policies,
with a focus on year-to-year value-added test score gains, may undermine efforts to recruit and retain
effective teachers. The value-added statistics are not as accurate as policymakers believe.
In a high-need school, students are struggling and one year is usually not enough time for teachers to
show test score gains. Most teachers I know do not want to go to a high-need school because of the
fear of losing their job.
After a ten-year teaching career in challenging communities in Alabama and North Carolina, Taylor Milburn
recently resigned from a high-need school in Durham because she did not have opportunities to both teach
and lead. She talked about what it takes for teachers to be successful in high-need schools:
When teachers take on the challenge of working in a high-need school, they need to know they are
supported in many different ways: professionally, personally, financially, and the list goes on. If we
want them to stay, we have to find ways to make sure these needs are being met, in the same way
they are working desperately to meet the needs of their students. The biggest incentive, though, is
TIME. We always needed more timespecifically time together as a team, not just as individuals
time to plan, time to collaborate, and time to reflectin order to improve.

* Administered November 2-25, 2015. This is the sixth administration of TNTP Insight in the district. At this school, 92% of teachers
responded to the Insight survey during this administration, compared to 73% in the district as a whole. Out of 49 survey recipients, 45
responses were collected at this school.

This summer, the North Carolina General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory approved a budget that would
increase teacher and instructional staff salaries by an average of 4.7 percent. However, this increase barely
makes up for the cost of living increases that teachers have done without since the 2008 recession. And many
educators will earn less than that averageincluding some of the most experienced teachers in the state in
districts that struggle to retain high-quality educators.
The budget also includes a two-year bonus program for teachers whose students score well on standardized
tests, which will likely funnel increases to teachers in high-performing schools serving advantaged students
the teachers and schools that least need incentives and supports to remain.
Similar past bonus programs in NC and other states have proven
ineffective at incentivizing better performance or teacher
retention. Once again, the series of short term increases enacted
of late dont add up to a new system for compensating teachers and
supporting the retention of our most accomplished education
Important takeaways
All teachers being paid on the single salary schedule has
served its purpose, met its goals, and outlived its
Professional compensation involves more than incentive
pay as bonus pay systems yield few positive effects on
either students performance or teachers attitudes toward
their jobs.
Teachers support evaluation frameworks designed to help
them improve their practice with colleagues as well as
expand their opportunities for leadership.
Workplace conditions (including time and administrative
support) are central to teacher effectiveness, particularly
in high-need schools.

I do expect that my colleagues

and I should be compensated
fairly in terms of base pay,
relative to w hat is acceptable to
attract and maintain high-quality
teachers that consistently
produce high-quality results.
And I expect that such base
compensation be supplemented
if I am able to demonstrate
excellence in terms of growing as
a teacher, growing my colleagues
(locally and elsewhere), and
consistently producing strong
results in terms of an array of
student performance metrics.
While teacher leadership may be
hard to define, it is easy to
Ben Owens
Physics/Mathematics teacher,
Tri-County Early College
High School

A new approach to transforming teachers careers and

We imagine a comprehensive teacher career and compensation system that takes into account 1) the widely
accepted notion that all teaching salaries need to be higher, and 2) the idea that those who demonstrate
superior performance and lead effectively should be paid more. We believe these two goals can be
accomplished by creating a framework that rests on base professional pay as well as a career pathway system
that values teachers who lead in a variety of ways. It is also critical that the system reinforce the conditions that
allow teaching expertise to spread. In other words, were talking about pay, career pathways, and working
conditions that boost teacher learning and leadership for students benefit.

Our model is more sophisticated than the overly simplistic merit pay schemes and career ladders of past and
present. And it is more consistent with the complexities of teaching and learning today, as well as what we
imagine in the years ahead. Our schools and the career pathways of teachers need to look much differently
given the demand for students to meet higher academic standards to succeed in our global economy.
Our model draws on North Carolinas current teaching evaluation systemalthough it includes some major
modifications. We propose that teachers move forward in their careers on the basis of the skills they can
demonstrate. Once they demonstrate advanced skills, they have far more opportunities to take on formal and
informal leadership roles and tasks. We have a simple formula: As teachers show what they know and can do,
both time and additional compensation are made available for them to lead. When classroom experts are at the
top of their leadership game, they can tap into a Teacher Innovation Fund, modeled after the one just
launched in the Netherlands, where 4,000 to 75,000 (or $4,700 to $85,800) are awarded to those who
with their own discretion shape the enhancement of their professional practice, improving education, and
strengthening the profession. However, our model includes another dimension that definitely deserves
further exploration: supports and rewards offered to school administrators who cultivate teacher leaders.

Policy recommendations
We next dig into some of the specifics and policy recommendations, rooted in our six principles, and outlined
as a three-part framework: (1) sound professional base pay, (2) tools and incentives to recognize teachers to
learn and improve their practices, and (3) leadership pathways so teaching expertise can spread widely.
Recommendation 1: Professional base pay
We believe that teachers base pay should recognize that practitioners come to the education workplace with
varying levels of experience and qualifications. And if teachers do not deserve a professionally based minimum
salary, they should not be teaching.
In 2006, the National Center on Education and the Economy released Tough Choices or Tough Times: The
Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. Authored by a bipartisan group of
business and policy leaders, the report called for teachers salaries to start at $45,000 for novices, with a
maximum of $95,000 for the most experienced and accomplished practitioners. This was ten years ago.
We believe our base pay should range from $40,000 to $56,000 (with the latter pegged at the national
average for all teachers). We also believe a school district might pay considerably more for a new teacher who
has special expertise and/or has passed a rigorous performance assessment and is specifically trained to
work with students in high-need communities.
But most importantly, every teacher within a school system must have the opportunity and support to earn
additional professional compensation and demonstrate that he or she deserves the maximum salary,
incentives, and rewards. Placing caps on the percentage of teachers who are rewarded for strong
performance and leadership runs counter to the idea that every student should have an effective teacher. At
the top of the scale, teacher leaders should earn $130,000comparable to the salaries of accomplished
nurses and engineers. However, we need a much more nuanced and accurate system of teacher evaluation to
identify teaching effectiveness and leadership potential.


Recommendation 2: Evaluation process to demonstrate expert skills

As accomplished teachers, we put student learning ahead of every other priority in our professional lives.
Individual teachers should be held responsible for moving specific students forward. Target goals are
important, but they should not be arbitrary like some of the test score metrics by which teachers are judged
today. As Doyle Nicholson, principal at Davie County High School, noted, Our end-of-course exams have not
been accurate in determining teacher effectiveness, but I believe a well-designed portfolio can. Karyn
Dickerson, National Board Certified Teacher and the AP/IB Coordinator at Grimsley High School, pointed out,
We need to be able to draw cumulative evidence of student learning where our analysis is used to measure
teaching effectiveness. Ben got more specific:
What if, instead of outdated modes of assessment
and then tying such tests to teacher evaluations,
we adopted a statistically valid model to
randomly sampled in-classroom instruction and
use it as a basis to measure teaching
effectiveness? What if we used a series of
measures that encouraged innovative...
[classroom] practices that were proven to lead to
deeper student engagement, rather than an
incongruent focus on test prep that saps the joy
and wonder out of student learning and leaves
them ill-prepared for todays global, knowledge-
intense economy?
He continued:
One idea would be to allow teachers to
voluntarily opt into a system of periodic, random,
and unannounced audits by a colleague who has
expertise in teaching the subject matter to
determine peer effectiveness.
Doyle believes the current system requires too many
boxes to check and a one-size-fits-all standardized test
is not enough to focus on what is really going on in the
classroom. The current approach stands in stark contrast
to that of top-performing nations like Singapore (see
sidebar at right).8

Evaluation system
in a top-performing nation
In Singapore, the teaching evaluation system
focuses on teachers contributions to the
holistic development of students and how well
they spread their expertise to colleagues. Key
dimensions include a focus on the quality of
student learning, pastoral care and well-being
of students, co-curricular activities, and
collaboration with parentsnot on
standardized test scores. The evaluation begins
with a self-assessment where assessors,
typically senior teachers, use a narrative as
opposed to a checklist. The evaluation process
encourages teachers to self-reflect on their
capabilities and achievements and chart their
own professional development as w ell as
reinforce[s] behaviors and outcomes the
Ministry of Education values. The evaluations
also include a future orientationwith
teachers assessed on their "current estimated
potential. Decisions are made on evidence
from a portfolio, and principals always consult
with senior teachers who are experts in the
field of the teacher being evaluated.

Researchers have shown how high-quality collaboration

among teachers improves student achievement.9 And in

top-performing nations, teachers work together in very
structured ways to assess student learning, determine their own professional development, and collectively
evaluate impact.10 We can do the same in North Carolina. And we can imagine teachers earning anywhere
from 5 to 15 percent bonuses upon demonstrating what they have learned as well as the impact their learning



has had on their teaching practice. In addition, these types of evaluations will show which teachers are most
apt to lead in specific ways.
Recommendation 3: Leadership pathways
We live in a time when enterprise and innovation are greatly valuedwhen American entrepreneurship is
seen as one of our cultures greatest assets. Imagination and creative collaboration rank high on the checklists
of important 21st-century skills, and successful companies are encouraging their professional workers to
think outside of the box as they search for fresh solutions to persistent problems. If policymakers and school
reform advocates are truly committed to the creation of high-performing schools, they will encourage
teachers to become innovators and entrepreneurs by ensuring teacher compensation systems that stimulate
such activity.
We imagine a wide variety of formal and informal leadership roles that teachers can play, with special
funding streams from the state to assist districts in paying for them. We imagine at least five state-supported
teacher leader roles, plus an innovation fund so classroom experts can incubate their own ideas.
First, many of us (and many of our colleagues) would serve as mentors if we had the time and support to do
so. North Carolina continues to be plagued by high teacher turnover, which is currently 15 percent a year.11 In
Northampton, more than 33 percent of the districts 155 teachers left last year. There is an obvious need for
our best teachers to support new recruits to the classroom. Our states accomplished teachers have deep
experience at this work and want to do more. Joanna offered a very important observation:
Being an effective mentor to an adult requires a different skill set compared to teaching students.
Many mentor programs are online click-through trainings that leave mentors untrained and the
mentee often suffers. In addition, mentoring a new teacher takes a significant amount of time and
energy, sometimes feeling like a second job. Currently, there is very little compensation and thus
many experienced educators choose to work a second job that pays rather than a second job that
doesn't pay.
Second, if more teachers are going to receive more high-quality feedback on their teaching, then more of us
need to be prepared and utilized as peer reviewers. Studies of peer review programs show they can improve
erratic and ineffective teacher evaluation and solve the problem of stalled dismissals.12 But most
importantly, researchers have shown how peer review also improves teaching effectiveness, and the key to
creating an authentic and transparent evaluation system is to have teachers play a major role in it. Ben and
his colleagues with the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching have designed a cross-district
collaborative called Scaling the Pockets of Teaching Excellence in Western North Carolina Project to
enhance peer-to-peer observations (like lesson study) across several school systems. This approach is in its
second year and has been proven to be a highly effective but low-cost method to provide teacher-to-teacher
professional learning that can be scaled to other schools and districts through existing professional learning
networks. It draws on current professional development dollars and can serve as a model for how teachers,
with time and support, can drive their own learning. We need more teachers to serve as peer reviewers as well
as professional learning designers who can spread their teaching expertise.
Third, accomplished teachers could play an important role in curating resources in helping our colleagues
teach the new essential student standards. Teachers do not lack materials and toolsbut many do struggle to


identify which are the most helpful. Many districts have content specialists, but as Joanna noted, The shame
is that these roles usually pull some of the best educators out of the classroom entirely. And often, as Karyn
claimed, content specialists are not utilized to vet resources for busy teaching colleagues. Teachers need
less supervision and more support in shifting from teaching topics to concepts, and as a result, we need more
classroom experts who can serve as content curators, drawing on their day-to-day teaching experience with
Fourth, the essential standards require more sophisticated ways to assess deeper learning outcomes. That is,
teachers need to be able to measure students capacity to gather and evaluate information and ideas as well
as conduct original research in answering questions. The knowledge base on how to develop performance
tasks that measure students' deeper mastery of content and skills is emerging (see the Center for
Collaborative Educations Quality Performance Assessment (QPA) framework). But we need more teacher
leaders who have skills as assessment experts to assist their colleagues in learning how to measure student
mastery of deeper learning outcomes. As Karyn reminded us, Assessment experts would also need to be
strong professional development leaders who know how adults learn best in order to share the assessment
shifts with other educators.
Fifth, the complexities of serving students, particularly in high-need schools, means we need more and better
school-community partnerships in order to build bridges between teaching the core curriculum and after-
school and summer programs, as well as to create a more integrated approach to teaching students and
working with parents. When asked about what new leadership role she would play if she had the time and
space available, Sabrina said:
I would really like to work with parents and members of
the community so we could share resources, ideas, and
enrichment activities that would make the classroom
experience even better for our students.
Karyn noted that each school ought to have several hybrid
teaching roles so more teachers can work as school-community
liaisons to organize people and resources to get the community
into the school and the school into the community.
We believe the state should set aside another pool of funds, much
like the Iowa state legislature has done, to fuel a teacher
leadership and compensation system. The legislature allocated
$150 million for a three-year pilot, with $309 per student, so
districts can set a vision and goals for what they plan to
accomplish, which includes some of the roles we have described
herein. (See legislation here.)

Organizing teacher leadership takes

time and resources. When I wanted to
spur a new idea for my school, an
outside organization funded buying
the books (and other resources
needed) for all the teachers involved.
It was a small investment, but it
spoke volumes to the teachers
involved and made the work more
possible. B ut teachers shouldnt have
to look outside their workplace for
funds to support meaningful
professional learning. Innovation
funds would both encourage and
reward continued learning and
collaboration between teachers.

Joanna Schimizzi
Biology teacher,
North Carolina Virtual
Public Schools

In the past, North Carolina funded mentors at $1,100 per teacher,

an extremely modest investment. With limited funds, districts
like Durham Public Schools only had the dollars to pay for one
full-time mentor for 100 beginners.13 We believe the state should create a formula thatmuch like Iowasis
based on local needs. The formula could support districts to sufficiently compensate and/or offer reduced
teaching loads to work with administrators in both coaching and assessing their colleagues, as well as



sustaining much needed school-community partnerships (like Project LIFT). We also suggest that districts
work together (like the Pockets of Excellence project), using online communities, so they can share teacher
leaders in their roles as content curators and assessment experts, creating cost-efficiencies as they spread
teaching expertise.
Finally, we believe so many more teachers could create new policies and practices if they had an innovation
fund to fuel their creativity. We believe the state legislature should begin by offering $5 million annually for up
to 500 teachers to apply (for up to $35,000) to incubate their own leadership ideas. (This idea is not so far-
fetched. Not only do we see this in the Netherlands today, but closer to home in the late 1990s, the Ohio
legislature provided funds to teacher teams for $25,000 per year to support efforts to redesign their schools
to improve student learning.)
Our team represents a tiny fraction of the North Carolina teachers who could contribute valuable insights on
this front. As 22-year veteran history teacher Dave Orphal asserted, Why cant classroom teachers help
advise local school boards and state lawmakers about educational policy, systematically adding a perspective
and new programs so that the rubber of proposals might meet the road of learning and teaching?
We want to see more hybrid roles in which teachers can both teach and lead. Instead of only deploying full-
time coaches or supervisors who do not teach, districts can create more hybrid roles in order to enable
classroom experts to lead. Offering year-round hybrid positions with comparable pay would help retain
strong teachers who want to remain in the classroom but are also eager for new professional challenges.
Year-long contracts could be built with innovation in mind. For example, there might be options for teachers
to collaboratively organize their own work; to design and pilot small educational initiatives under state or
district sponsorship; or to build, align, and implement curriculum in ways that make sense for diverse
students they teach. This is what Dave had in mind when he called for the state to set up an innovation fund
for teacherpreneurs to incubate and execute their own ideas:
I think teachers should be able to apply to their district with an idea for innovation. A team of
respected master teachers and administrators would form the committee that would decide which
ideas were funded. Funding would allow teachers to have release time to lead and resources to
incubate their idea.
As Nicole Smith, math teacher at Mooresville Senior High School, noted, Our vision is for the state to create
and update funding streams to assist districts in paying for teachers filling various formal and informal
leadership roles. But these funding streams need to be more than just salary supplements. Teachers need
time to lead, but they also require genuine administrative support. We cover these matters next in a
supplement to our model recommendations.
Key considerations: Ensuring time and administrative support
Rethinking teacher pay and career pathways are important steps, but they must be accompanied by careful
attention to the working conditions that allow teaching expertise to spread. We make this case not just based
on our collective years of experience teaching, but also from substantial research evidence assembled over
the last several decades. And a new study offers us even more insight: Improving school climate lowers
teacher attrition and raises student achievement. The researchers pointed to the importance of both the


quality of school leadership as well as the extent to which teachers feel supported by their colleagues, work
together to improve their instructional practice, and trust and respect one another.14
However, most teachers in the United States do not work in schools that are organized so that they can work
collaboratively and lead in ways we have described, a fact well-documented by many other researchers.15 For
example, a recent survey of 100,000 teachers from 34 nations found that U.S. teachers are far less likely to see
one another teach, and far more likely to have an administrator, rather than a peer, offer feedback on their
teaching.16 In the U.S., 50 percent of teachers have never observed a colleague and offered feedback. In Japan,
a mere 6 percent can say the same. More than 25 years ago, researcher Mark Smylie and colleagues concluded
that little attention has been paid to preparing the school as a setting for new forms of leadership
including the design and enactment of new roles for teachers.17 Leadership in any field, but particularly
among teachers, rarely occurs as a chance organizational event.18
The National Center on Time and Learning offers useful resources for system leaders to rethink time, roles,
and school design to advance professional learning and teacher leadership. One of the models they highlight
is the Generation Schools Network, which draws on a more focused curriculum and reallocated personnel
dollars so teachers can learn and lead. Students get more and better learning time, and teachers have two
hours a day to collaborate with one another, as well as 20 days of additional professional development per
Modest adjustments in current teaching schedules can create more time for teachers. A CTQ TeacherSolutions
team from Kentucky developed 15 recommendations as a primer for beginning to free up teachers for
innovative thinking and action. These include reducing unnecessary bus and hall duty as well as ensuring
uninterrupted planning time. Nicole suggested another option: dedicated substitute teachers who can teach
classes once a week or every other week to allow teachers time for reflection, collaboration and true
professional development.
Our schools need more principals like Doyle who have deep teaching expertise and embrace teacher
leadership. We need to cultivate more principals like him. Lori Nazareno, who taught for more than 25 years
in two high-need school systems, told us:
We need principals who are responsible for identifying and leveraging the strengths of teacher
leaders and then providing the autonomy and resources for those strengths to be activated to serve
the school community. Think conductor here. Conductors are responsible for ensuring that the entire
orchestra is working together and that each musician gets better. They are NOT responsible for
actually playing any instrument and, in fact, they readily accept that the musicians are the masters of
their craft. That said, I would venture a guess that conductors also HAVE played an instrument or
two. They should know what it takes to do that well.
Greater power for teachers need not mean less influence for principals: as teachers gain authority and
responsibility, their principals efforts will benefit from a growth of capacity and visibility. As Doyle noted:
I try to be a principal who is facilitator of true collaborative decision-making with the teachers. But
the state needs to look for ways to incorporate these possibilities into teacher leader schedules.
But Doyle and many other principals like him are limited in what they can do to advance teacher leadership
because they too, as Karyn noted, have been overburdened with unnecessary paperwork and limited time to
get to know the strengths of the teachers in their building. She continued:



In my one-year foray into the central office administration, I saw first-hand the impact that good
principals had on their schools. I witnessed principals who could unite teachers and articulate a
shared vision. But I did see principals who didn't know how to delegate responsibility or didn't have
any additional support in an administrative teamand they were the ones who struggled the most.
And the ones who also struggled were those who had little knowledge of curriculum and instruction,
and the work of the teachers they were supposed to be leading.
We know for sure that any system to transform teachers careersand their compensationmust
incorporate new ways to leverage more time for classroom experts to lead, and boost the capacity of
principals to do so.

First things first: North Carolina needs to establish base pay that accounts for a practitioners education and
experience and that is substantial enough to recognize the professional commitment and excellence we
expect from every teacher in this state.
We cannot stop there. Strong base pay is the starting linenot the finish. We must ensure that every teacher
has the opportunity and support to earn additional professional compensation and demonstrate that he or
she deserves the maximum salary, incentives, and rewards available.
Of course, paying teachers for performance is not a new idea. Scholars have documented the failed efforts
from years past. These initiatives floundered, in large part, due to unresolved technical and political issues, as
well as the unwillingness of policymakers to invest more fully in teaching. But paying teachers for
performanceand their leadershipis an idea for which the time has comeif it is done correctly.
We have presented a framework that captures our teaching knowledge and many years of experience
working with students and their familiesgathering insights from schools across North Carolina as well as
many colleagues across the country via the CTQ Collaboratory. It is built upon four simple words: valued,
trusted, acknowledged, and accountable.
We are certain our recommendations will attract more talent into teaching, ensure our best teachers can
spread their expertise, and retain our most accomplished practitioners. Most importantly, our framework has
been built from what we know will advance the teaching profession in the best interest of our states
In closing, we call for a range of stakeholders to take action:
Policymakers can study the lessons of failed performance pay plans of the past and invest in a pilot of
our ideas in six to ten school districts;
Administrators can advocate for measures that prepare and support them in how to redesign schools
so teachers can spread their expertise and lead;
Business leaders can partner with schools and look for ways to support and invest in teacher leader


Teachers associations can work with state legislators to develop a teacher compensation plan that
encourages practitioners to spread their expertise through leadership roles as well as advocate for
fair pay, smaller class sizes, and protected collaboration times; and
Teachers can proactively participate in advancing a school culture that encourages peer observation
and leadership.
We are ready to work with those, like us, who want to attract and retain the best and brightest in our
profession, and help them both teach and lead without leaving the classroom. Everyone, from policymakers to
teachers, has to think and act differently about the teaching professionone that would not lose a
professional like Allen Stevens. His words must be heard and understood:
We shouldn't have to choose. We should be able to spend our energy during the day nurturing our kids
and making sure they're learning, but also be able to go home at night and have enough energy left for
our own kids.
As Ben concludes, We stand ready to support the ideas offered in this report as a way to redefine what it
means to be a teaching professional in North Carolinawhere teachers have the time to teach and to lead.
Our students and our state deserve nothing less.



NC teacher team biographies

Transforming teachers careers and compensation in North Carolina

Karyn Dickerson
Karyn Dickerson is a National Board Certified Teacher and the AP/IB Coordinator at Grimsley High School in
Greensboro, NC. She is also an instructor for a teaching methods course for Guilford College. An educator for
10 years, she has taught all levels of high school English, spent a year as an academic coach for Guilford
County Schools, and now teaches IB Theory of Knowledge. She was the 2013-2014 North Carolina Teacher of
the Year, a 2016 NEA Foundation North Carolina Teaching Excellence Award winner, and an Education Policy
Fellow graduate. As a proponent of global education, she visited Germany with the Center for International
Understanding Global Educators Team and will travel to Peru this summer as an NEA Foundation Global

Taylor Milburn
Taylor Milburn, a National Board Certified Teacher, spent 10 years in Alabama and North Carolina
classrooms. She was committed to teaching in Title I schools where she taught first grade, fourth grade, and
exceptional education. She served on the Alabama State Department Teacher Evaluation Design Committee
and the Alabama Governors Commission on Quality Teaching, worked on a national CTQ TeacherSolutions
project around teacher working conditions, and was a lead mentor and National Board candidate support
provider. Taylor was the 2014-2015 Jefferson County Schools (AL) Teacher of the Year. She is now a proud
member of the staff at CTQ, where she continues her work advocating for the teaching profession.

Doyle Nicholson
Doyle Nicholson, a 24-year education veteran, is currently principal at Davie County High School in
Mocksville, NC. A National Board Certified Teacher, Doyle taught high school mathematics for 20 years before
becoming an administrator. His local leadership in mentoring novice teachers and National Board candidates
earned him 2006 Teacher of the Year honors in Yadkin County (NC) Schools. He works with CTQ to provide
training for teacher leaders interested in becoming virtual community organizers.

Dave Orphal
David Orphal is a 22-year veteran of the classroom, having taught history and education theory from the
middle school to the university level. His career has taken him from rural California to inner-city Oakland and
now to North Carolina, where he currently teaches American History in Pittsboro. He has been publishing
about teacher evaluation and high-stakes testing since 2001. Dave is honored to have been awarded the
Quality Teaching Award from Oakland Unified School District (CA) and recognized as a Leader in Human
Rights by the California Teachers' Association. He has served on teacher-led educational think tanks with
CTQ, the California Teachers Association, and Great Oakland Public Schools. You can see his TEDx talk on
teacher leadership on YouTube.


Ben Owens
Ben Owens spent 20 years working as an engineer for a multinational corporation before beginning a second
career as a physics and mathematics teacher at Tri-County Early College High School in the rural Appalachian
mountains of North Carolina. He is a 2016 TeachStrong Ambassador; a 2014 Hope Street Group National
Teacher Fellow; a CTQ Virtual Community Organizer; and a recipient of the North Carolina Science,
Mathematics, and Technology Centers 2016 Outstanding 9-16 Educator Award in Science, Mathematics, and

Sabrina Peacock
Sabrina Peacock is a National Board Certified Teacher at Oak Hill Elementary in High Point, NC. She teaches
third grade and has been teaching for 23 years. She is a very active member of NCAE, GCAE, the Common Core
Work Group for the Mid-Atlantic Region, and the NC College and Career Ready Leadership Team. Sabrina is
devoted to developing instructional teacher leaders and mentoring new teachers.

Joanna Schimizzi
Joanna Schimizzi is a National Board Certified Teacher who lives in Charlotte, NC. She has taught biology for 9
years and currently works for North Carolina Virtual Public Schools to support students with disabilities.
Joanna is an America Achieves Lead Fellow and a MeckEd Teacher of Excellence. She believes teacher
collaboration is one of the most powerful tools for moving students forward, and so she works closely with
Student Achievement Partners and CTQ.

Nicole Smith
Nicole Smith is a high school math teacher in Mooresville, NC, and a Marine Corps veteran. She has been
teaching for two years. Nicole is an active member of CTQ, as well as the team facilitator for Math II at her
school. She has been recognized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for teaching excellence. Nicole
believes multiple perspectives provide a clear picture of the educational landscape, so she has written articles
for Education Week Teacher and Phi Delta Kappan.





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