Reposted from the New Teacher Project blog:
This year, we assisted Boston Public Schools (BPS) with their major effort to hire teachers earlier and give teachers and school leaders more choice in the process. The goal was simple: hire the best, most diverse candidates into Boston classrooms. Our past experience and research has shown that schools are able to hire the most sought-after candidates when they act in the earlier months. Each passing month means lower odds of a successful hire. BPS has also struggled for years to achieve the diverse teaching force it needs to reflect the communities it serves, and research shows early hiring brings in more top African-American and Latino candidates. A more proactive hiring process could help BPS solve a challenge it’s wrestled with for years. Not to mention that a strong match, both for teachers and principals, has a positive impact on teachers’ effectiveness and desire to stay in the classroom.
The district’s efforts had a huge effect: By the end of this past June, BPS had filled 83 percent of its vacancies. Last year at that time, they’d hired just 9 percent of their new teachers. So far, the teachers hired are a better reflection of the diversity of BPS’ students, too. What happened? Last March, BPS added a stipend and additional duties to many job descriptions, which opened these new jobs to any internal or external candidate. Principals now had far more freedom to hire the teachers they believed were the best fit for their school. At the same time, BPS undertook efforts to identify open positions earlier in the school year, and to support tenured teachers to help them find the right positions.
This was a bold shift for BPS: As a district with a wide variety of types of schools, several of which already had greater autonomy over hiring, traditional schools in Boston that lacked such flexibility felt the strain from the standard hiring process disproportionately. Needing the most help, they were actually at the greatest disadvantage. With the change, open positions can be filled without going through the traditional staffing process – a first for many schools.