The first time we visited Pittsburgh to conduct our district study, we were struck by a few things – the impressive Cathedral of Learning, the number of picturesque bridges, and the amount of Steelers paraphernalia we saw on everyone (no really, everyone). As we dove deep into the data on teacher policies in the school district, we were impressed by the thoughtfulness Pittsburgh has undertaken in changing important policies affecting teachers in evaluation and compensation. Pittsburgh’s teacher evaluation system includes multiple measures, one of which is student surveys (something NCTQ has long advocated for). This combined with their compensation structure, based on experience and performance, made us downright giddy.
Like every district we study, there is definite room for improvement in Pittsburgh– particularly in the area of staffing. The district is bound by state laws requiring the use of eligibility lists (a list of eligible candidates that are ranked – new hires must be chosen from the top 10 percent of this list), and also force places teachers who have lost a position. Their hiring timeline shows that most hiring of new teachers takes place in August – far too late in the game.
Pittsburgh has made some bold moves in their quest for a high quality teacher workforce and many of their efforts have paid off. In other areas, like some career ladder positions and attempts to draw teachers to work in hard-to-staff schools, it’s time for adjustments to make sure their work yields positive results.