Policy Issues in Nevada Education
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Teacher leadership strategies are increasingly being deployed in multiple jurisdictions across the country, with mixed results. While informal teacher leader roles have existed for decades and are a not new idea, the expectations and responsibilities of these roles vary significantly from district to district or even from school to school. Ultimately, such an inconsistent approach to teacher leadership fails to capitalize on the potential of a comprehensive approach to human capital reform, including a modernized career ladder with advanced teacher leader roles. This would allow excellent teachers to stay in the classroom while also extending their reach by tapping into their expertise to increase the overall systemic capacity for instructional leadership. When designed and implemented purposefully, a teacher leadership approach that identifies the best teachers and provides them with responsibilities that extend beyond typical classroom responsibilities can show positive effects on student learning and may encourage excellent teachers to remain in the profession. A strategic approach to teacher leadership can also be used to strengthen numerous aspects of the career continuum, by improving the quality and effectiveness of induction programs, providing peer review of instruction, or delivering on-site professional development to those who need it most. Approaches to teacher leadership being used elsewhere have tended to adopt one of two possible definitions of a teacher leader: the first recognizes that all teachers have leadership potential and devises a system of supports to allow individual, classroom-focused leadership; and the second seeks to identify highly effective teachers and provide specialized support to a smaller number of elite teachers, placing them into a modern career ladder and building roles with responsibilities that focus on systemic improvement. If Nevada considers developing a formal teacher leadership framework, given the state’s recent history of teacher shortages, high level of teacher attrition, and the inequitable distribution of effective teachers, the latter definition would provide the state with a framework that allows for a scalable solution to some of the state’s most persistent human capital challenges.
Supporting Teacher Leadership in Nevada.
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