The CLASS framework was born out of a desire to help Nevada’s public education system address an issue that is regularly faced by all large organizations: the selection, retention, and development of workforce talent. After all, it is people, not programs, which have the greatest impact on students and facilitate better outcomes for kids. Yet people are also the most difficult element of an organization to change. Change requires establishing new standards while setting higher expectations, but how we communicate this change to teachers makes all the difference in how effectively these new standards and expectations are met. Nevada Succeeds has always believed that Nevada cannot ‘fire its way to better teachers’; CLASS creates the pathways that make possible large scale improvements to the implementation of effective professional learning communities and cultures.
CLASS establishes four distinct levels of teaching staff, each with pre-defined and unique roles: Probationary, Professional, Lead, and Master. Unlike the current model of instructional coaches that move from building to building, CLASS would implement a collaborative teacher-leadership framework intended to create groups of PLCs, or Professional Learning Communities, embedded within each school building. Probationary and Professional teachers would receive on-site, one-on-one coaching from both Master and Lead teachers who have demonstrated not only effectiveness in the classroom, but also in mentoring other teachers. These Lead and Master teachers would lead their PLCs through daily and/or weekly development sessions, with PLCs being grouped by what makes the most sense for the makeup of a given building. All PLCs would have similar features as dictated by the CLASS structure: provide teachers with time within the school day to meet in collaborative teams to plan instruction, review data, and determine best strategies for individual classrooms and even for individual students. Within a PLC, each Master teacher is responsible for three Lead teachers, and each Lead is responsible for a mixed group of five Professional and Probationary teachers. After PLCs have met and decided on both their shared and individual development goals, Lead and Master teachers provide targeted follow up to ensure that progress is being made by the Professional and Probationary teachers under their charge. In this way, development can be carefully calibrated to the needs of individual teachers, with the presence of Lead and Master teachers serving as a tool for the school principal to monitor progress and hold the faculty accountable for results. Together with the Lead and Master Teachers under their charge, principals now have a leadership team within their building that can effectively and accountably handle the development of the teachers within that building.
With CLASS, Nevada Succeeds believes that Nevada can better support its teachers, fulfill the promises we have made to our students and families, and become a model for the rest of the country to emulate.
CLASS helps improve student outcomes in a myriad of ways:
44% of teachers in Nevada quit within their first five years. Why? The No. 1 reason cited in exit interviews was a ‘lack of support and an inability to advance’. Teachers are facing greater pressures than ever from a constantly shifting educational landscape. By creating a formal structure of Master and Lead teachers, new and struggling teachers are provided a group of mentors who are ready to support them by collaborating on data-driven instruction while understanding each teacher’s individual classroom needs. In this way, CLASS facilitates fair, focused, and frequent teacher feedback and guidance.
One of Nevada’s greatest challenges in improving our education system is our perennial shortage of highly effective teachers. One of the major drivers of this shortage is the lack of sufficient career pathways for teachers, who feel they are forced with a binary set of options: either stay in the classroom to teach or leave the classroom for administration and the resulting career opportunities.This forced and false choice between classroom teaching and career advancement is unfair to teachers, and one of the primary challenges that CLASS was intended to address. By creating a system of Probationary, Professional, Lead, and Master teachers, CLASS offers teachers the ability to advance while staying in the classroom. This way, great teachers are kept in the classroom and given options to take control of their own careers.
The teaching profession is unique from other professions in that it has not traditionally recognized differing levels of expertise within its ranks. By creating Lead and Master teaching positions, new and struggling teachers are given an example of effective instruction to model their own efforts after. For Lead and Master teachers, they are now recognized as the instructional leaders they have always been, but now possess a mechanism to disseminate best practices. Furthermore, their increased pay is tied to a defined role with increased responsibilities and set expectations for guiding teachers to better student outcomes, as opposed to more dubious teacher quality metrics.