Center for American Progress

RELEASE: School Districts Must Modernize and Improve Their Human Capital Practices, CAP Survey Reveals
Press Release

RELEASE: School Districts Must Modernize and Improve Their Human Capital Practices, CAP Survey Reveals

Washington, D.C. — A first-of-its-kind Center for American Progress survey of national school districts’ human capital practices reveals that most districts have not yet adapted their human capital systems to the modern labor market, despite the increasing importance of attracting talented teachers. The CAP survey asked districts to describe how they recruit new talent, select whom to hire, induct new teachers, develop teachers’ skills, and measure and reward teachers’ success in the classroom. CAP’s report released today compares the survey findings with examples of human capital best practices in other fields, and recommends that school districts adopt such practices used to attract talent, increase productivity, and improve outcomes within high-performing organizations.

“Every day, people who could become great teachers decide to enter other professions. The country’s most successful organizations know the value of human capital. If school districts want to hire excellent, diverse educators, they need to dedicate more resources to recruitment,” said Annette Konoske-Graf, Policy Analyst at CAP and co-author of the report.

“When college-educated professionals are choosing jobs and careers, they are looking for chances to collaborate with talented colleagues, work environments that support their development and growth, and professional-level pay with pathways for future career advancement. While teaching is very meaningful and fulfilling work, these opportunities are too often unavailable to teachers,” said Lisette Partelow, Director of Teacher Policy at CAP and coauthor of the report. “We need to modernize how we think about talent in the teaching profession in order to attract and retain great teachers and create great schools for our students.”

To better understand how school districts’ human capital systems compare with the best practices employed in other sectors, CAP surveyed a sample of 108 nationally representative school districts. Major findings from the survey include:

  • School districts’ recruitment strategies are hyperlocal, untargeted, or nonexistent. The average school district has more than 3,000 students, but only assigns 1.8 employees to teacher recruitment.
  • School districts’ application and selection processes often emphasize static application materials—such as written applications, resumes, and proof of certifications—over performance-based measures. Despite the importance of great teaching, only 13 percent of school districts require a demonstration or a sample performance lesson with students to evaluate teacher candidates.
  • School districts do not provide new teachers with substantive mentoring or onboarding opportunities to build new skills critical to their roles. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 87 percent of Millennials said that “development” was an important part of a job. However, more than 40 percent of school districts do not provide or offer teachers the opportunity to participate in lesson study or study groups with other teachers to improve and develop their skills.
  • School districts do not provide teachers with enough opportunities for professional development or access to professional learning systems that support teachers’ continuous growth.
  • School districts do not compensate teachers similarly to college-educated professionals in other fields or provide teachers with the resources they need to do their jobs well. While the average college graduate with a bachelor’s degree makes just over $50,000 a year, the mean base salary for the lowest paid full-time teachers in districts was approximately $36,000.
  • The teaching workforce is overwhelmingly homogeneous—82 percent of teachers are white. Still, only one in three districts actively recruits from institutions and organizations that serve primarily minority populations. School districts do not strategically recruit diverse candidates or create inclusive, supportive environments to retain them.
  • Ninety-six percent of job recruiters outside of the education sector nationwide report using social media as a recruiting tactic. Meanwhile, only 30 percent of school districts post job openings on social media networks.

CAP’s report offers the recommendations for school districts to improve their approach to recruiting, training, and retaining excellent teachers:

  • School districts should devote more time and resources to intentional recruitment.
  • School districts should include performance measures in their application and selection processes.
  • School districts should provide new teachers with opportunities to build their skills and gradually assume increased responsibility.
  • School districts should offer teachers opportunities and time to grow, as well as implement professional learning systems that support teachers’ continuous growth.
  • School districts should ensure that teachers’ compensation is similar to that of other professions requiring the same level of education and provide teachers with necessary teaching resources.
  • School districts should prioritize teacher diversity and develop strategies to attract and retain teacher of color.

Click here to read “To Attract Great Teachers, School Districts Must Improve Their Human Capital Systems” by Annette Konoske-Graf, Lisette Partelow, and Meg Benner.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at [email protected] or 202.478.6331.