This chapter reviews the personnel management functions of Venus Independent School District (VISD) in the following sections:
D. STAFF DEVELOPMENT
Texas law requires school districts to offer professional and in-service training for staff. Staff development and training exposes employees to new and better ways to complete tasks or tackle problems. The Texas Education Commission (TEC) provides minimum standards for staff development planning, preparation and improvement provided by school districts. These standards include:
- training in technology, conflict resolution and discipline strategies, including classroom management, district discipline policies and the student code of conduct adopted under Section 37.001 and Chapter 37;
- training that relates to instruction of students with disabilities and is designed for educators who work primarily outside of the area of special education; and
- instruction as to what is permissible under law, including opinions of the United States Supreme Court regarding prayers in public school.
In addition, TEC requires the staff development be predominantly campus-based, related to achieving campus performance objectives developed and approved by the campus-level committees. Campus staff development may include a variety of activities that enable staff to share effective strategies and to:
- reflect on curricular and instructional issues;
- analyze student achievement results;
- identify means of increasing student achievement;
- identify students’ strengths and needs;
- develop meaningful programs for students;
- appropriately implement site-based decision making; and
- conduct action research.
Staff development occurs through a variety of means, including study teams, individual research, peer coaching, workshops, seminars or conferences.
A district that receives Title I assistance is required to provide professional development that will improve the teaching of academic subjects, consistent with state content standards, to enable all children to meet the state’s student performance standards and meet the requirements of federal law.
State law also requires additional staff development for teachers and administrators who provide services to students who have been identified as gifted and talented. The gifted and talented education program has the following staff development requirements:
- prior to assignment in the program, teachers who provide instruction and services that are part of the program for gifted students must have a minimum of 30 hours of staff development that includes nature and needs of gifted/talented students, assessing student needs and curriculum and instruction for gifted students;
- teachers without the required training who provide instruction and services that are part of the gifted/talented program must complete the 30-hour training requirement within one semester;
- teachers who provide instruction and services that are part of a program for gifted students must receive a minimum of six hours annually of professional development in gifted education; and
- administrators and counselors who have authority for program decisions have a minimum of six hours of professional development that includes nature and needs of gifted and talented students and program options.
Staff development provides employees with new and better ways to complete tasks and tackle problems, ultimately increasing productivity and efficiency in the district.
The coordinator of Curriculum and Special Programs coordinates staff development and attends seminars, conferences and training to keep abreast with the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) enacted in 2002, Title I, federal programs, Safe and Drug Free School and Communities Act, curriculum training and new developments in education. The coordinator of Curriculum and Special Programs updates school personnel on legal changes through memorandums and during monthly administrative meetings with the superintendent and principals. Other administrators receive professional staff development through their monthly staff meetings, professional associations and Regional Education Service Center XI (Region 11) workshops. The coordinator plans the staff development schedules for the district. The schools participate in a needs assessment process as required by Title I, Part A, School-wide Program. The coordinator prepares the staff development schedule based on the results of the needs assessment and campus improvement plans.
VISD has implemented a paraprofessional training program that will allow teacher aides to meet and even exceed the NCLB, continue their education and pursue teacher certification. NCLB requires that all paraprofessionals at Title I, Part A, School-wide Districts meet the “highly qualified” standards by January 31, 2005. In order to comply with this law’s requirements, paraprofessionals must have two years of higher education or an associate’s degree.
VISD, along with other public schools in the community college service area, participates with Hill College in an Employer Worker Training Program designed to meet the needs of working paraprofessionals. Hill College provides a customized program for working paraprofessionals to meet the “highly qualified” standards of NCLB by May 31, 2004. The program provides college courses at VISD’s high school. Courses offered focus on the field of education with supporting content drawn from other appropriate academic areas such as English, Spanish, reading, math, communication and technology. The classes are designed to not only meet the requirements of federal legislation, but are customized for this working population, enhancing their skills on the job.
The curriculum developed by Hill College will allow participants to further their education as teacher aides and to retain their jobs. The district’s objective is to have teachers to continue their education beyond the curriculum developed by Hill College and to obtain teacher certifications for public school teaching. Hill College works with Tarleton State University to develop a teacher preparation transition program.
In July 2002, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board published A Report on Promising Practices for the Recruiting and Completion of Educator Preparation Programs. The report’s findings identified the “top five best and most promising practices for student completion of educator preparation programs that appear to be working and are used by institutions across the state.” These practices include: hiring Examination for Certification of Educators in Texas (ExCet) coordinators; attracting educational aides into the program; providing ongoing field experiences; offering accessibility to faculty; and allowing flexible schedules. The report explains that many educational aides have a strong desire to become certified teachers but face barriers that prevent them from accomplishing this goal. Effort to provide flexible schedules and courses at times when educational aides could attend classes has been beneficial. Another advantage is access to faculty who can offer assistance, encouragement and provide support. The report further states that although these students make huge sacrifices to attend classes, the success rate is high.
VISD has made several accommodations for its paraprofessionals to receive this training. The superintendent and business manager serve as project leaders in the Employer Worker Training Program with Hill College. The district provides the location for instruction. The paraprofessionals pay for the tuition costs. VISD allows the paraprofessional staff to pay the tuition and books through payroll deduction on a monthly basis.
The Venus Chamber of Commerce has recently awarded $1,000 in scholarship aid for VISD paraprofessionals to attend the classes. Criteria for the scholarship aid is being developed. VISD and Hill College have recently been awarded a grant for Employed Workers from the North Central Texas Workforce Development Board to support those paraprofessional educators during their two years of college attendance. Funds from the grant will contribute to tuition and books through May 1, 2004. VISD paraprofessionals and those from four other districts enrolled in the Hill College program will benefit from this grant.
VISD has established partnerships with Hill College, the Venus Chamber of Commerce and the North Central Texas Workforce Development Board to provide educational opportunities for its paraprofessionals.
Because of teacher shortages, VISD hires degreed non-certified professionals for some teaching positions. The district coordinates alternative certification plans through Region 11 and Education Career Alternatives Program (ECAP) so that all applicants complete their alternative certification program within the required time. The district also provides additional certification opportunities to district teachers in need of English as a Second Language (ESL) certification, Master Reading Teacher Certification Program and Master Technology Teacher Certification through Region 11. The district pays for the certification test fees and the cost of the preparation sessions at Region 11.
Exhibit 3-18 shows some of the staff development offerings in Region 11.
VISD Staff Development Opportunities in Region 11
Date Workshop Title Audience 2/12/2003 Humanities Bridge Social Studies and Language Arts Connection High School and Middle School 2/12/2003 Preparing for TAKS Math, Grades 9-11 High School 2/15/2003 TI-83 Plus Graphing Calculator for Intermediate Users High School and Middle School 2/17/2003 Challenging Your Students with Math Resources on the Internet Secondary and Elementary 2/17/2003 Soaring to Success on the Elementary Science TAKS Elementary 2/18/2003 Preparing for the TAKS in Social Studies, Tenth Grade High School 2/18/2003 RETN Teleconference School Health Advisory Council Update All Level 2/18/2003 Bilingual/ESL Program Design All Level 2/19/2003 Assessing Effectively to Improve Student Performance on Math TAKS Elementary 2/24/2003 Brainstorm, Plan, Organize, Inspire, Create and Problem Solve with Inspiration All Level 2/25/2003 Geometry: Teaching, Learning and Assessing for TAKS High School 2/25/2003 ESL Strategies for Secondary Classrooms Secondary 2/26/2003 Soaring to Success on Secondary Science TAKS Secondary 3/01/2003 A Beginner’s Approach to the TI-83 Graphing Calculator High School and Middle School 3/03/2003 Preparing for TAKS Math, Grades 9-11 Secondary 3/03/2003 Partners in Literacy – Training of Trainers Primary 3/20/03 3/20/2003 Impacting Language Arts and Gifted Students with KidPix Elementary, Middle School and Tech 3/25/2003 ESL Strategies for Elementary Classroom Elementary 4/01/2003 Critical Issues in Science All Levels 4/02/2003 Building Connections in Language Arts and Social Studies (Sheltered Instruction) High School 4/02/2003 Effective Writing for All Students All Levels 4/02/2003 Science TEXTEAMS and Beyond for Grades PreK-2 Para/Pre-K/K 4/03/2003 Educating Everybody’s Children: Teaching Strategies for ESL Students All Levels 4/08/2003 Great Explorations in Math and Science – GEMS Primary, Elementary and Middle School 4/15/2003 Building a Foundation: Elementary Social Studies TAKS Elementary 4/15/2003 Preparing Students for Nontraditional Careers High Schools 4/22/2003 TEKS-Based Writing in the Primary Classroom Primary 5/08/2003 RETN Migrant Summer School Teachers Planning Meeting All Levels 6/03/2003 ESL Strategies of Monolingual English Speaking Special Education Teachers PK-5 Source: VISD, Office of Coordinator of Curriculum and Special Programs.
Exhibit 3-19 provides the Teacher Preparation Program Training Schedule.
Teacher Preparation Training Program by Region 11
2002-03 and 2003-04
Date Topic May 6, 2003 Orientation May 6 – June 9, 2003 Online Training and Homework (Background Information) June 9, 2003 Child Development and Diversity June 10, 2003 Special Populations I June 11, 2003 Special Populations II June 12, 2003 TEKS Organization and Structure June 16, 2003 Content Area – English Language Arts June 17, 2003 Content Area – English Language Arts June 18, 2003 Content Area – Math June 19, 2003 Content Area – Science June 23, 2003 Content Area – Social Studies June 24, 2003 Overview of State Assessment June 25, 2003 Instructional Technology I June 26, 2003 Instructional Technology II June 27 – July 7, 2003 No Classes – Book Study July 7, 2003 Classroom Assessment and Parent Conferences July 8, 2003 Lesson Planning – Lesson Presentations July 9, 2003 Classroom Management July 10, 2003 Legal Issues and General Meeting August 23, 2003 Tools for Beginning Teachers September 13, 2003 Classroom Management Revisited Instructional Strategies September 27, 2003 PPR Review October 18, 2003 Effective Questioning Strategies January 24, 2004 Inclusion Source: Region 11.
In addition to the staff development opportunities offered at Region 11, VISD provides gifted and talented (G/T) program staff development during a week-long G/T Academy in the summer through a consortium with Regions 10 and 11. The service centers also offer an extensive G/T program in-service throughout the fall. Additional programs are offered onsite at the campuses throughout the year.
The Texas Center for Educational Research published The Cost of Teacher Turnover in November 2000. The report states that “providing time and financial support to teachers to earn master certification and other advanced certifications can pay off in reduced attrition from teaching as well as improved instruction and student performance.” The report concludes that teacher turnover results in high costs to districts and that policymakers and administrators must evaluate how to support teachers and implement strategies to retain qualified teachers. VISD has provided staff development opportunities for alternative certification and advanced certification programs in an effort to retain qualified teachers.
VISD offers a comprehensive staff development program that facilitates alternative certification program completion requirements for degreed non-certified professionals.