To achieve our Vision, we must transform North Carolina’s education systems to make teaching and educational leadership careers competitive with other top professions in the nation, fostering the talent we need to help students become highly skilled, prosperous professionals and well-rounded citizens.
Educators are far and away the most important school-based factor in student success. Despite this, North Carolina – like every other state in the nation – lacks a comprehensive talent plan for recruiting, developing, and retaining exceptional educators. On the whole, careers in education suffer from low respect, low wages, low support and little true accountability. Rather than attracting top talent and using it to foster the potential in every student, we have failed to keep pace with the rest of the country and hamstrung educators with an outdated bureaucracy. North Carolina must commit to building a first-rate workforce at every level of our education system in which educators thrive.
E1.1 Increasing education requirements for early childhood educators and promoting continuing education options to provide high quality programs that support positive child outcomes.
E1.2 Rewarding and retaining top early learning talent, such as by offering more competitive compensation that reflects the enormous impact these educators have on children’s future success.
E1.3 Recruiting, retaining, and supporting strong early learning administrators. Initiatives may include gathering data to better understand the support gaps they face, and ensuring early care and education administrators are well trained in the importance of quality education talent and the importance of early literacy.
Teachers in our public schools receive a lot of attention, both positive and negative, for a simple reason – teachers are the number one factor in school-based influences on student performance. In recent years, North Carolina has made progress in improving what it means to be a teacher, particularly regarding compensation and accountability. But we are nowhere close to achieving the level of respect, reward and flexibility that great teachers need and deserve. To recruit, prepare, and continuously develop excellent teachers in our public schools we must:
E2.1 Cultivate top talent by proactively recruiting aspiring educators, setting high standards for entry, and rigorously screening applicants based on the skills and competencies needed for success on the job, especially for hard-to-staff schools and subjects across the state.
E2.2 Increase the rigor and responsiveness of teacher preparation programs, including setting high standards for entry, to achieve closer alignment with schools’ needs, emerging technologies, and the increasing demands of a college, work, and life-ready curriculum.
E2.3 Reward and retain top K-12 talent through innovative approaches, such as phasing in new types of compensation and credentialing structures that recognize and reward excellence, enabling teachers to advance their careers without leaving the classroom, and incentivizing positions in the state’s highest-need areas.
E2.4 Provide teachers more time to teach through initiatives, such as increasing non-academic supports for students, working to integrate real-time assessment into each class period, and minimizing unnecessary administrative tasks.
E2.5 Maintain a high-quality educator evaluation system by continuing to examine and improve the state’s current system. Ensure that each component of the system has a valid connection to student success, uses fair and reasonable measurements, and offers meaningful feedback for teachers.
E2.6 Provide teachers with high-quality leadership and continuous professional development, such as exploring options to shift centralized training to dynamic, classroom-based learning led by peer and teacher leaders.
Research suggests that principals are second only to teachers in the level of their impact on student learning. And, given that one of teachers’ top priorities is having inspiring leadership in their building, the importance of excellent principals cannot be overstated. Yet, as with teachers, North Carolina does not have a comprehensive leadership talent plan. To better recruit, prepare, and support inspiring leadership in our public schools we must:
E3.1 Recruit aspiring principals from our top teachers and rigorously screen based on the skills and competencies needed for success on the job.
E3.2 Increase the rigor and responsiveness of principal preparation programs through initiatives that expand research-based preparation programs that elevate the status of principalship, integrating on-the-job training, and continuously improve to meet the changing demands of the role.
E3.3 Provide multiple career pathways and modernized compensation for school leaders in order to foster ongoing development, recognize success and improve retention beyond moving from small to larger schools or across grade spans.
E3.4 Empower principals with more flexibility over school operations, from staffing to scheduling and curriculum, so they can determine the best strategies for their student population and enable real accountability for results.
Research has confirmed that educator talent plays a crucial role in student success. The same holds true in higher education, as well, including North Carolina’s 58 community colleges and public and private colleges and universities. Institutions of higher learning invest heavily in personnel costs, but many have struggled in recent years to recruit and retain top faculty in a highly-competitive marketplace. Working group members identified the following strategies to address these challenges:
E4.1 Allow institutions of higher education to adopt policies to more successfully attract talented faculty and staff, especially in high-need areas. Potential innovations include structuring compensation and benefits to be competitive and strategic.
E4.2 Encourage higher education institutions to provide high quality instruction and ongoing professional development for educators.
E4.3 Reward and retain the most-effective post-secondary educators, such as by rethinking personnel policies, increasing awareness of the importance of teachers on student performance in institutions of higher learning, and increasing understanding and spreading information about the personal and statewide economic advantages of top talent in higher education.