HR with a Purpose: Building Talent for Distinct Schools and Networks

September 2013

Prepared for the American Enterprise Institute Conference, “Teacher Quality 2.0: Will today’s reforms hold back tomorrow’s schools?”

Over the last decade, researchers and policymakers have highlighted a host of policies and practices that undermine district efforts to build a great teaching corps, practices like making job offers late in the summer, assigning teachers to schools based on seniority, spreading responsibility for important talent management activities across unconnected central office units, and using superficial hiring and evaluation methods. The field rarely considers what schools and districts do right when it comes to managing teacher talent.

In this paper, DeArmond and Gross describe how two successful district schools and two successful charter management organizations (CMOs) develop and manage teacher talent and what it implies for policy and practice. All of the profiled organizations approach human resources (HR) with a systemic vision and purpose, using their HR systems to send clear signals about what they expect of teachers and to provide teachers with supports and incentives to meet those expectations. These schools and CMOs have purposeful human resources systems, but, importantly, they serve different purposes. The authors' example suggests that one approach to identifying, evaluating, and placing talent is unlikely to work for all schools and questions some of the underlying assumptions behind today's top-down HR reforms that focus on system-wide alignment around models of teaching and evaluation.

Read the paper.

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