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Industry insights

What makes a great school district according to teachers?

Last week, the National Council on Teacher Quality named their top 8 districts for recruiting, supporting and retaining great teachers. This year's winners included: Boston; Broward County, Fla.; Denver; the District of Columbia; Gwinnett County, Ga.; New York City; Pinellas County, Fla.; and Pittsburgh, Pa.

So what makes a great district?

According to EdWeek, "The award highlights districts that have proven themselves national leaders in developing great teachers, so that they, in turn, can deliver great instruction to their students, the organization said in announcing the award. According to the NCTQ, the districts shone in five major criteria: compensation, professional support, management and operations, career and leadership opportunities, and student services."

Of particular interest to us were the scoring criteria around management and operations, which were:

Decisions about staffing are made at the school level and respect teachers' performance and expertise

Teacher evaluation systems are transparent and based on quality evidence

The district supports efficient daily operation of schools

The district facilitates high-quality school leadership

Teachers have ways to communicate their views to the district

Teachers feel valued by the district

As NCTQ points out, and as research suggests, teachers that feel they are adequately supported in terms of resources in the classroom tend to be more engaged and motivated to perform. NCTC cites the day-to-day operations of schools as being a major part of what can help districts keep quality teachers:

For teachers, access to basic supplies and adequate facilities can have a personal and professional impact. Decades of teacher surveys document the substantial amount of money that teachers spend to buy their own supplies every year. Recent estimates suggest that the average teacher spends as much as $500 of their own money each year, with around 10 percent of teachers spending $1,000 or more. With over 92 percent of teachers spending out of pocket on supplies, district efforts to improve the availability of instructional supplies could have an effect in practically every classroom. Likewise, maintenance of clean, adequate facilities sends teachers and students a signal about the district's investment in student learning and contributes to a positive school climate. Facility quality, as measured by teacher perception surveys, also influences student achievement, suggesting that district investments in infrastructure might make life a little easier for students and teachers alike.

What are you doing to ensure your school operations help you recruit and retain the best possible talent?

If you need help getting started, we recently wrote a white paper that shares some best practices on how to improve teacher hiring (and retention) by streamlining your school district's business processes. Check it out and share your thoughts on what else you can do to improve teacher engagement at your schools!