Managing Talent for School Coherence: Learning from Charter Management Organizations

For almost five years now, the Center for Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica have teamed up to assess the effectiveness of charter-management organizations (CMOs). And a productive partnership it has been. Their latest report on this topic (the fifth, by Gadfly’s count) deserves attention. It focuses on how CMOs hire, train, and manage staff to maximize their schools’ instructional and cultural coherence; there are strong implications here for districts and other charters. Analysts found that successful CMOs managed talent in three key ways. First, they recruited and hired carefully, targeting pipelines like Teach For America and communicating clearly the school’s mission and work ethic. (Messaging, these CMOs believe, helps teachers self-select during the application process.) Second, they used intensive and ongoing socialization of team members, including routine observations and real-time feedback. Third, they aligned pay and promotion to organizational goals, meaning, for example, that stellar teachers were offered the chance to coach others, develop new programs at the schools, and more. CMOs also provided cash rewards to rock-star teachers which, interestingly, were based more on leaders’ professional opinions than assessments or performance metrics. The report draws a number of conclusions that district schools and other charters would be wise to follow insofar as they can.

SOURCE: Michael DeArmond, Betheny Gross, Melissa Bowen, Allison Demeritt, and Robin Lake, Managing Talent for School Coherence: Learning from Charter Management Organizations (Seattle, WA: Center on Reinventing Public Education, June 2012).

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