For those who were here back in 2011, you might remember that North Carolina was a state recipient of the federal Race to the Top (RttT) grant. As part of that grant, PCS invested approximately $4 million over the four years of the grant in upgrading technology infrastructure, rolling out PLCs across the district, and transitioned to new state standards. What may be less well-known, though, is that the RttT grant also funded what we referred to as the Teacher Leadership Cohort (TLC). The TLC was a strategic staffing initiative that ran from August of 2011 through June of 2014, and through it the district provided monetary incentives to encourage high-performing teachers to transfer to low-performing schools. That program was discontinued after the 2013-14 school year because longitudinal data did not support its effectiveness. But we learned quite a few lessons from the TLC, and those lessons were used in the development of R3. Some of those lessons were:
- While teachers did desire increased financial compensation, it was not the driving factor in making decisions to move schools – a second, equally strong motivator was that teachers desired increased influence, but they were not interested in becoming coaches or administrators.
- Teacher leaders – even though they were highly effective with students – needed training in order to be effective with adults.
- When high-performing teachers were assigned to low-performing schools by PCS leadership, they struggled to gain respect and build rapport with other teachers in the building. There was distrust from the current staff and an unwillingness to work with them.
Beginning in 2012, North Carolina’s political leadership passed a series of laws to shift state employees away from traditional, fixed pay scales toward Performance-Based Compensation Systems. Specifically, Section 25.2D of North Carolina Session Law 2012-142, House Bill 950, reads “It is the intention of the General Assembly to create and implement a modernized, fair, and fully functional Performance-Based Compensation System for employees of State agencies.” In the same Section of S.L. 2012-142, legislators struck language to evaluate payment of salary supplements to teachers based “on account or master’s degrees, attainment of other advanced degrees, and national board certification, including the relationship to student performance, if any. This evaluation should also include recommendations as to whether these salary supplements should be continued or modified based upon the effect on student performance, if any, and human resource best practices.”
Then in 2014 the North Carolina General Assembly ratified Senate Bill 744, Session Law 2014-100, which included Section 8.41, entitled “Differentiated Pay for Highly Effective Teachers. Stating its intent “to provide local boards of education additional State funds for local programs to provide differentiated pay for highly effective classroom teachers,” the law mandated local boards of education to submit proposals to establish a local program to provide differentiated pay for highly effective classroom teachers to the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee, the House Committee on Appropriations, and the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee. PCS originally submitted a proposal in response to that legislation, which marked the earliest stages of the development of R3 as a comprehensive framework to address teacher pay in the district, in January of 2015.
That initial submission marked the beginning of what has become the entire R3 Initiative. Development began formally in August 2014 with input from multiple stakeholders including teachers, principals, instructional coaches, central office personnel, university partners, business partners, and the Pitt County Board of Education. Significant milestones in the development of R3 include:
- August 2014 – PCS Central Office personnel begin research &collaboration with UNC Hospitals regarding nursing career ladder; 1st Cohort of Key BT Program begins
- October 2014- Brainstorming and collaboration with East Carolina University.
- November 2014 – Teacher and Principal Advisory Committees convened to finalize initial proposal to the State of North Carolina
- December 2014 & January 2015 – Initial proposal adopted by the Pitt County Board of Education & additional presentation to principals and business and university partners
- August 2015 – 2nd Cohort of Key BT Program begins
- October 2015– Initial funding secured for the Teacher Leadership Institute
- January 2016 – First class of Teacher Leadership Institute begins
- June 2016 – Second class of Teacher Leadership Institute begins
- June 2016 – R3 further refined in collaboration with teachers leaders
- July 2016 – R3 officially submitted to the US Department of Education
- October 2016 – PCS receives a $16.2 million TIF grant to implement R3
- October 2016 – R3 officially submitted to the State of North Carolina
- December 2016 – PCS receives an additional $4.9 million state TCM grant to implement R3
Now you may be wondering why we needed two grants to effectively implement all components of R3 in the district. Actually, the answer is very simple – it had nothing to do with funding levels or amounts and everything to do with eligibility criteria for the respective grants. TIF funds (the federal grant) are restricted in their use to schools that meet certain eligibility criteria, and in PCS there are only 29 of our 35 schools that meet those criteria. In other words, if we relied only on the TIF grant, regardless of how large it would be, it could never allow for the implementation of all the components of R3 in every school. Enter the State’s TCM grant. These funds are available to be used in any school in the district. So, in essence, we have one R3 implementation funded through two different sources ensuring equal access to program components regardless of where a teacher teaches in the district.
In the next post, we’ll actually review the two elements that we have in PCS already: the KeyBT and TLI programs.