District Administration April 2018 - 25

PERSONNEL

Better-aligned screening of teachers predicts success
When hiring teachers, districts are more
likely to select better candidates if they
use screening tools designed to align
closely with actual classroom experiences
and expectations, according to a recent
study of Los Angeles USD undertaken
by CALDER, an education policy arm of
the American Institutes for Research.
A hiring process that reflects specific
classroom expectations-for instance by
requiring candidates to present a sample
lesson to a hiring committee-is a reliable
predictor of which new teachers will have
a bigger impact on student achievement,
score higher on evaluations and even have
fewer absences, the survey found.
Key components
The LAUSD screening system,
implemented in the 2014-15 school
year, features eight key components (see
sidebar) evaluated in a rubric developed
by the district, the second largest in the
nation. LAUSD receives nearly 10,000
applications for approximately 1,200
open teaching positions each year.
The process was developed to better

predict which applicants had the best
chance of improving student outcomes,
says Katharine Strunk, co-author of the
two-year study (DAmag.me/lausd) and a
professor of education policy at Michigan
State University.
"The district said, 'We know what we
want from our teachers when they get in
the classroom, so why don't we screen for
it when we are hiring?'" says Strunk.
Screening teachers based on classroom
expectations is common sense, "especially
in states like California, where you're
granted tenure very early on in your
teaching career, and then it becomes very
difficult to remove a teacher who you
don't think is a good fit," Strunk says.
The approach should be easier to
adopt now that many districts have
implemented more detailed classroom
observation protocols and teacher
evaluation rubrics, says Strunk.
Similar approaches
Spokane Public Schools, which hires
nearly 250 teachers annually and is
the subject of another CALDER study

The 8 key components of LAUSD's screening:
* Interview
* Professional references
* Sample lesson
* Timed writing sample
* Undergrad GPA

* Subject matter licensure test scores
* Background check of non-teaching
or leadership experience
* Teaching preparation
and credentials

(DAmag.me/sps), has found success
with a comparable screening process.
The Washington district's approach
features a 60-point rubric that includes
10 key components that tend to be
strong predictors, such as classroom
management. A high score in cultural
competency is particularly important as
the district becomes more diverse, says
Mary Templeton, director of certificated
personnel. Teachers who can value others,
understand their own biases, provide a
professional response with compassion
and develop restorative practices tend to
be more successful.
As in LAUSD, Spokane has also
found predictive success in employment
references, and has moved to
confidential letters of recommendation,
in which applicants do not view the
content. "We're seeing for the first time,
letters with two sentences-'This teacher
lacked classroom management. Call me
if you'd like more information,'" says
Templeton. "In the past, we didn't get
that kind of feedback, which we need."
Both districts have engaged
local teaching colleges to align the
process from the beginning of teacher
preparation.
"These districts are saying 'Why don't
we tell you what skills we need, and then
your candidates will be better fits for our
schools, and in the long run, be more
successful,'" says Strunk.
-Ray Bendici

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April 2018 25


http://www.DAmag.me/sps http://www.DAmag.me/lausd http://www.qomo.com http://www.qomo.com http://www.DistrictAdministration.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration April 2018

District Administration April 2018 - Cover1
District Administration April 2018 - Cover2
District Administration April 2018 - 1
District Administration April 2018 - 2
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District Administration April 2018 - Cover3
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