The state should support teachers to take on leadership opportunities that allow them to continue teaching. This goal was new in 2017.
State support for teacher leadership: The District of Columbia does not have a policy targeting teacher leadership opportunities.
However, the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) offers the Leadership Initiative for Teachers (LIFT), which is a five-stage career ladder that "provides high-performing teachers with opportunities for advancement inside the classroom, as well as additional responsibility and increased recognition and compensation." Advancement titles include established teacher, advanced teacher, distinguished teacher, and expert teacher.
Selection criteria: The District of Columbia does not have a policy targeting teacher leadership opportunities.
However, DCPS's LIFT career-ladder program permits eligible teachers to advance up the ladder based on the number of consecutive effective and highly effective evaluation ratings they receive.
Incentives and supports: The District of Columbia does not have a policy targeting teacher leadership opportunities.
However, DCPS's LIFT program permits teachers in its LIFT career-ladder program to receive base salary increases.
Support teacher leadership opportunities.
The District of Columbia should initiate policy that encourages teachers to assume leadership or advanced career positions while allowing them to remain in the classroom. This will enable teachers to aspire for professional growth opportunities and increased involvement in educational decisions for their school and community and may ultimately result in a more confident, empowered, and professionally satisfied teaching force.
Base criteria for leadership roles on effectiveness and content knowledge.
The District of Columbia should ensure that teachers selected for leadership roles have a record of effectiveness in the classroom and bring substantial teaching experience and subject-matter knowledge.
Offer incentives or supports to teachers who assume leadership roles.
The District of Columbia should offer—or encourage districts to offer—either financial incentives or nonmonetary supports to assist teacher leaders. To allow effective teacher leaders to remain in the classroom, the District of Columbia should ensure that principals provide time and space for the tasks of both teacher of record and teacher leadership roles, which may be accomplished, for example, through a reduction of class loads.
The District of Columbia indicated that it recommends, but does not have a policy targeting, teacher leadership opportunities and defers this authority to the hiring district. The District added that new ESSA federal regulations have no mandate for local school districts to comply with this initiative, and thus District policy must allow them autonomy and flexibility in this area.
9C: Leadership Opportunities
Research from the past four decades widely supports leadership roles for teachers. Teachers aspire to engage in leadership and professional growth opportunities, and desire more participation in decisions about instruction. Research suggests teacher leaders should be involved in policy and decision-making at some level.
Research has not found a relationship between teacher leadership and student achievement; however, the presence of teacher leadership opportunities in schools has benefits for individual teacher leaders, as well as the school-wide teacher community. Teacher leaders feel more confident, empowered, and professionally satisfied; they also feel that leadership roles allowed them to grow professionally. Teachers in schools with teacher leadership opportunities report that such opportunities contribute to greater teacher empowerment, professional community, and collective responsibility. For their school community, teachers in leadership roles have the capacity to increase teacher collaboration, spread best practices, encourage teacher professional learning, and focus on content-specific issues. Teacher leaders support professional learning communities by conducting formal professional development or assisting other teachers in classrooms. By concurrently serving as teachers, teacher leaders are likely to be more effective in both roles.
Teacher leaders selected for these roles should bring substantial teaching experience and knowledge of the curriculum, as well as effective instruction. Insofar as strong teacher leadership systems should ensure that teacher leaders also remain in the classroom as teachers, principals should provide time and space for the tasks of both teacher of record and teacher leadership roles, such as reducing class loads.