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National Council on Teacher Quality

This study looks at the policies and practices shaping teacher quality in the Kansas City, Missouri School District (KCMSD). It is part of a series of analyses by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) in school districts across the nation. Framing this analysis are five policy goals for improving teacher quality: (1) Staffing. Teacher assignment is based on the mutual consent of principals and teachers, with district policies facilitating the access of schools to top teacher talent; (2) Work culture. Policies encourage a professional and collaborative culture, including a work schedule that allows for sufficient planning time; (3) Evaluations. Teachers' performance evaluations play a critical role in advancing teacher effectiveness; (4) Tenure. Tenure is a meaningful milestone in a teacher's career and advances the district's goal of building a corps of effective teachers; and (5) Compensation. Compensation is strategically targeted to attract and reward high quality teachers, especially those in hard-to-staff positions. For this analysis the authors explored the policies (found in both the collective bargaining agreement and state law) that shape teacher quality. They collected personnel data from the district and met with teachers, principals, union leaders and district administrators to get a better understanding of how these policies play out in practice. They also compared the policies in KCMSD with those of surrounding districts and the 100-plus districts found in the NCTQ's TR[3] database, Lastly, they laid out a blueprint of suggested improvements and highlighted possible solutions that have been successful elsewhere. Many of the recommendations in this document require changes in state law or in contract language. Since collective bargaining is not mandatory in the state of Missouri, the teachers' contract should not be seen as an obstacle to reform. Most of their recommendations simply require that the district make significant improvements to how it conducts its daily business. Though all school districts struggle with efficiency, the degree to which Kansas City struggles is cause for concern. The district's poor record-keeping and lack of data systems were alarming. (Contains 21 figures and 24 footnotes.) [This project was done in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Kansas City and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.]

Descriptors: Teacher Effectiveness, Tenure, State Legislation, Academic Achievement, Collective Bargaining, Unions, School Districts, Personnel Data, Principals, Teachers, Educational Policy, Teacher Selection, Work Environment, Scheduling, Teacher Evaluation, Recordkeeping, Teacher Salaries

National Council on Teacher Quality. 1420 New York Avenue NW Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-393-0020; Fax: 202-393-0095; Web site:

Autor: Corso, Aileen; Franck, Valerie; Kelliher, Kate; McCorry, Betsy


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