Spotlight on teacher policies in Dayton

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What city is home to the Wright Brothers and the birthplace of the Trapper Keeper? If you said Dayton, Ohio, then you would be right! Dayton is also the location of NCTQ's latest district study on teacher quality, the eleventh in a series examining how policies and practices affecting teachers play out on the ground.

In many aspects, Dayton can serve as a model for other districts across the nation to follow. Unlike other places we've studied, the district and teachers' union in Dayton have a well-functioning working relationship with frequent collaboration. Both the district and the union understand the value of improving practices affecting teachers, and have been commended nationally for their ability to rise above messy in-fighting that so often plagues other districts. 

While there are commendable practices in Dayton, there is still significant room for improvement. Like many other urban districts across the nation, Dayton students perform far below their suburban peers in terms of proficiency in math and reading on the Ohio Achievement Assessments. 

In total, this report makes 29 recommendations to the district and union and five recommendations to the state that can improve the policies shaping the quality of the Dayton workforce and, in turn, student outcomes. The most urgent recommendations are focused on improving teacher staffing policies:

  • Hire teachers earlier. Implementing a formal hiring timeline whereby all positions are filled by June, would benefit the district immensely. Key deadlines should be communicated to school leaders well in advance. Moving up the displacement and voluntary transfer process to late spring would allow the district to focus on new hires well before the start of the school year.
  • Give principals the authority to decide who works in their buildings. The district should negotiate with the teachers union to commit to allowing principals to interview and select candidates for all vacancies in every school. At a minimum, principals should be able to reject the assignment of a teacher to their school, including teachers who have lost their assignment in another school no matter what the reason, and extend this authority to all points in the school year.

In the past, Dayton has been known for innovation across a variety of sectors. It is time for the district to welcome innovative changes that will result in recruiting and retaining the best and the brightest teachers. The next generation of students and the city of Dayton will see the benefits of these changes for years to come. 

Read the full report here.