The newspaper reported:
Although 375 were eligible to participate, only 32 applied, according to Eddie Breaux, a human resources staff director for Fulton schools. He said some of the teachers who did not apply said they believed teachers and principals would not support them. Many did not want to make longer commutes.
So what finally happened to the Fulton experiment? It faded away. The architects, former Fulton superintendent Robert Avossa and chief strategy and innovation officer Ken Zeff, are gone. Avossa is leading the Palm Beach County schools in Florida, and Zeff heads a new metro corporate and civic initiative to improve schools, Learn4Life.
Here is what Fulton Schools spokeswoman Susan Hale told me in an email:
Based on our experience after two years, we have been successful in some areas, and learned some useful lessons in other areas.
In terms of successes, we were able to attract effective teachers to high-needs schools, albeit on a small-scale. Additionally, the program had a positive impact on the resource allocation in schools, as participating teachers did not require as many supports and provided more mentoring to their peers, as compared to other teachers who were new to their schools.
Anecdotally, several of the participating teachers viewed their participation as "one of the best decisions" made in their educational careers and feel they have made a great impact on students' lives. This was a growth opportunity for many of the teachers as they later assumed roles like department/grade level chair, were selected for programs like the FCS Aspiring Leaders cohort, and even received promotions into roles where they expanded their impact by formally coaching other teachers.
However, we ultimately do not view this as a scalable model for Fulton County Schools at this time. Some of the reasons for this conclusion include the limitations of the tools used to identify high performing teachers (Student Growth Percentiles, TKES), the challenging geography of our district (the distance to schools for many potential applicants is too far), perceptions of school climate and culture by potential applicants, and perceived and real struggles of teachers fitting in at their new schools.
Hale's reference to the limitations of tools to identify high-performing teachers is reflected in two new studies that found principals rate most teachers as “effective,” despite a national movement to create more nuanced calibrations of teacher performance,
In reporting on the studies about the high scores still being accorded nearly all teachers, Education Week said:
That's in part because principals want to maintain good relationships with their teachers, which can be tough to do when they have to confront them with bad reviews, the researchers say. For some principals, though, the hesitation to give low scores is a product of being strapped for time.
"It's very, very time-consuming to document poor performance," said Marilyn Boerke, a former principal who is the director of talent development for the Camas school district in Washington state. "At the end of the year, if you haven't repeatedly gone into the classroom and given the teacher suggestions for improvements, it's not really fair to give a poor evaluation."
Despite Fulton's experience and that of other systems around the country, districts are still dangling bonuses in front of teachers to draw them to tough schools. Last year, the Pinellas County school system in Florida announced it would pay teachers up to $25,000 more a year to teach at low-performing schools in St. Petersburg. (The teachers would also have to attend training, work a longer school day and teach in a summer program.)
Even the feds had few takers when it proffered $20,000 to 1,500 highly effective teachers in urban districts if they would transfer to a high-poverty school. Less than 25 percent expressed interest.
Writing about the reluctance of teachers to jump schools even for hefty bonuses, the Atlantic noted:
The larger problem is that too few of the best teachers are willing to work long-term in the country's most racially isolated and poorest neighborhoods. There are lots of reasons why, ranging from plain old racism and classism to the higher principal turnover that turns poor schools into chaotic workplaces that mature teachers avoid. The schools with the most poverty are also more likely to focus on standardized test prep, which teachers dislike. Plus, teachers tend to live in middle-class neighborhoods and may not want a long commute.
Your thoughts on how to get good teachers into struggling schools?