Hope Public Schools Board Takes First ‘Opportunity Culture’ Step

HOPE – The Hope Public Schools Board took the first steps Monday toward orienting the Hope Public School District to an enhanced culture of teacher excellence through its participation in the pilot of the “Opportunity Culture” model.

The board approved job descriptions for two key elements of the model, the “Multi-Classroom Teacher” and the “Direct Reach Teacher” Monday night.

HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart said the action stems from a grant by the Arkansas Department of Education administered through the Southwest Arkansas Educational Cooperative to provide the training resources for implementation of the “Opportunity Culture” model to participating schools.

“There is no money being providing; it is training that is being provided,” Dr. Hart said.

The “Opportunity Culture” model shifts teaching from a single-teacher per classroom model to a more collaborative concept where higher-achieving teachers are placed in teaching leadership roles over more than one classroom and paid accordingly.

“The MCL leads a small team of teachers, paraprofessionals and teacher residents in the same grade or subject to meet the MCL’s standards of excellence,” according to the job description.

Under the concept, MCL teachers organize the methods and tools of the teams under their leadership, teaches in collaboration with team members and is fully accountable for academic development as a result.

DRTs work in a multi-classroom model as well.

“The direct-reach-teacher (DRT) serves on a multi-classroom leader’s (MCL) team, directly teaching more students than usual, but typically without raising instruction group sizes,” according to the job description.

DRTs also work collaboratively to monitor academic progress and determine instructional needs.

Each of the roles are compensated and accountable based upon their academic success.

“We feel like we have some of those bright star teachers who can motivate students,” Hart said. “We want to find a way to get them in front of more students. The idea is to keep good teachers in the classroom and in the profession.”

Hart said the concept is working in other school districts in Arkansas and nationwide by distributing leadership and improving teacher pay in exchange for demonstrated excellence. He said the concept will not require any additional funding, but will require re-allocation of some costs on each campus where it is implemented.

Hart said any campus which is not ready to implement the concept may wait to do so as long as academic growth at that campus remains positive.

“There is accountability that goes with this,” he said.

Hart said the concept will require evidence-based excellence in the selection of the MCLs and the DRTs under the job descriptions adopted by the board. Those selections will be made at the district administrative level and implemented based upon the greatest need, he said.

“This is the first step in the process for us,” Hart said. “I would hope we can view this as a recruitment and retention tool.”

HPS School Improvement Specialist Carla Narlesky presented a 45-day report which reflects growth in attendance and more stable academics.

“Student attendance is above 90 percent,” Narlesky said. “Schools are working on developing focused interventions for students.”

Academic growth is continuing at Clinton Primary; while new interventions at Beryl Henry Elementary have reduced failing grades; and, behavioral referrals at Yerger Middle School dropped in the second quarter; while, Hope Academy of Public Service is improving attendance and behavioral interventions.

The Creative Action Team School is developing a student organization to motivate attendance, and “Bobcat Days” at Hope High School have begun to show success in improved academics for students, Narlesky said.

In other matters Monday night, the board:

–Adopted a process for the district’s “homebound” student program.

–Learned the district administration will likely recommend an “energy performance contract” provider and proposal for lighting upgrades and HVAC controls upgrades after an “energy audit” to be conducted by the provider.

–Approved facilities use requests for basketball programs at Yerger Middle School and Hope High School.

–Approved administration recommendations for personnel.            

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