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ECISD, MISD to implement Opportunity Culture - Odessa American: ECISD

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ECISD, MISD to implement Opportunity Culture

Partnership with UTPB, US PREP to provide paid teacher residencies

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Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2019 3:07 pm

UTPB and its partner schools are the newest members in the University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (US PREP), a news release said.

Ector County ISD and Midland ISD are designing their Opportunity Culture plans now for implementation in fall 2020 in 16 schools — eight in each district.

Both districts have experienced large teacher shortages. ECISD has 350 openings.

The release said the district began the year with 500 teacher vacancies.

They will implement Opportunity Culture, a model developed by Public Impact, to provide greater teacher support, give excellent teachers the chance to lead small teams for higher pay, and help attract and develop new teachers. Their work will be a model for districts and education preparation providers nationwide to strengthen teacher pipelines collaboratively through paid teacher residencies, the release said.

“In a nutshell,” ECISD Superintendent Scott Muri said in a recently interview, “it is an opportunity for us to think differently about the role of the traditional teacher. We talk in our profession many times teachers feel the only way they can become a leader is if they leave the profession and become an assistant principal and principal. One of the things we would like to do through Opportunity Culture is … create really different types of teacher roles. That allows our really good classroom teachers to continue to work in the classroom and continue to be teachers, but also take on leadership opportunities so maybe I teach for part of the day and then maybe I lead my peers, I partner with my colleagues and I coach them and mentor them and help them become better in their profession or maybe I write curriculum for half of my day and the list goes on.”

Muri said the concept is to help school districts think differently about the role of the traditional teacher and how districts can expand on that role to provide more opportunities for teachers to be leaders and lead in their field without leaving the classroom.

“Secondly and probably just as important for us is how can we create different types of teacher roles that recognize the fact that we don’t have as many teachers in our system today and we’re not attracting them in this part of the country and really our profession is not attracting as many of them today. So how can we think differently about the role of the teacher and how can we actually create a learning environment that needs fewer teachers in the way that we traditionally know them,” Muri said.

He added that districts don’t have to be a certain size to use Opportunity Culture.

Public Impact Vice President of Strategic Policy Advising Stephanie Dean said Opportunity Culture has been around for several years. It started in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district, where Muri also has worked.

Dean said it often appeals to districts that have “pretty notable” teacher shortages, but it’s also when people are feeling pressed to do something different to make sure students are served.

Public Impact provides technical assistance to the schools during that design year. The Ector and Midland school districts will be getting their plans into place that will be put into effect in the 2020-2021 school year. Dean said a week-long training will be provided during the summer to get teachers ready for their new roles.

“UT Permian Basin is joining US PREP, an organization that’s helping teacher prep programs strengthen what they do. Part of that is creating a type of training where there will be a longer placement in schools,” Dean said. “Student teaching usually is pretty short, so this would be like a year-long teacher residency so you would be working intensively in a school. It’s a great pairing with Opportunity Culture Design because we help the schools create these teaching teams that are led by a multi-classroom leader, that powerful teacher leader. … Teacher residents get really powerful job embedded training while they’re in the process of becoming teachers.”

The stipends teachers receive average $12,000 at different sites, but they can go as high as $22,000 in large urban districts. Dean said this is done by reallocating existing dollars when there are vacancies.

US PREP is a coalition of 15 university-district partnerships focused on attracting, training and retaining high-quality, racially diverse teachers for underserved communities across the country. As a member in US PREP, UT Permian Basin will spend the next three years piloting, scaling and sustaining the Teacher Preparation Quality Objectives, which will result in the training of teachers who are ready to meet the needs of their K–12 students. Taken together with the Opportunity Culture model, candidates will receive compensation during their residency year, the release said.

The national Opportunity Culture initiative, founded by Public Impact and now in more than 28 sites in nine states, extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within schools’ recurring budgets.

These Texas districts will provide aspiring teachers with paid, yearlong residencies on teams led by multi-classroom leaders — excellent teachers who continue to teach part of the time while leading small instructional teams with intensive coaching and support, for more pay. Paid residencies provide a way to enter the teaching workforce for candidates who need to earn income while obtaining degrees and certification.

Each Opportunity Culture school forms a design and implementation team of teachers and administrators that determines how to use Multi-Classroom Leadership and other roles to reach more of their students with excellent teaching. Ector County and Midland will meet jointly with Public Impact to plan and implement a cost-effective transition to the new model over the next two years.

The school-level design teams reallocate school budgets to permanently fund substantial pay supplements to those in Opportunity Culture roles, in contrast to temporary grant-funded programs. In other districts, high-performing Opportunity Culture schools have made careful funding decisions to increase student growth without narrowing the curriculum.

ECISD has 44 schools and 33,826 students, of whom about 77 percent are Hispanic, 16 percent are white, and 4 percent are African American; nearly 55 percent of the district’s students are economically disadvantaged, the release said.

Midland ISD, led by Superintendent Orlando Riddick, has 40 schools and 26,000 students, of whom about 64 percent are Hispanic, 24 percent are white, and 8 percent are African American; 45 percent of the district’s students are economically disadvantaged.

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