Practitioner Quality

The AFT Innovation Fund invests in ideas for helping our members become more knowledgeable and skilled. We have supported groundbreaking work on teacher development and evaluation that puts teachers in the vanguard of defining high-quality teaching. Two AFT state affiliates have created teacher development and evaluation systems that establish teachers as participants in, not recipients of, their own evaluations through comprehensive, integrated systems dedicated to advancing student learning and teacher professional growth. This work won a competitive federal “Investing in Innovation (i3)” grant in 2010.

Anchorage Council of Education (AK), 2010

Summary: ACE embraced the Anchrage School District’s new high school “graduation coaches” by developing the role as a career path for school support personnel and serving as a vocal advocate for the positions. The union created a training program to help the graduation coaches understand the needs of at-risk students, developed and analyzed data to help the coaches track students’ performance in school and progress toward earning diplomas, and forged relationships with local institutions to open doors for students after graduation.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. To design a comprehensive training program for graduation coaches.
  2. To help at-risk students earn high school diplomas and help identify postsecondary opportunities.
  3. To create a manual for graduation coaches.

Baltimore Teachers Union (MD), 2013

Summary: The Baltimore Teachers Union worked with the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future to bring project-based learning to two schools. The "learning studios" model is based on teachers working in teams, with the advice of outside experts, to build interdisciplinary, hands-on projects that deepen students' knowledge and skills and make clear connections between academic work and the real world outside of school.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. To identify two K-8 schools and create teams of teachers eager to explore project-based learning, with the assistance of NCTAF and outside partners.
  2. To work toward a common goal at each school that could be met through a carefully sequenced series of steps (such as building a school garden and installing a salad bar to help students eat more healthful meals).

Denver Federation for Professionals and Nutrition Service Employees (CO), 2011

Summary: The DFPNSE worked closely with the Denver Public Schools and a design team of its members to create a pilot program that will reinforce food service employees’ roles in good nutrition for students. Details of the program were explained to focus groups of members, and their comments were fed back into the design. In the fall, the union and district will train employees and managers and then conduct a pilot test of the system.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. Give food service employees a role in determining a piece of their compensation.
  2. Integrate the design and concepts into the forthcoming contract and secure funding for its implementation.
  3. Pilot the system and revisit its design to make crucial adjustments and ensure sustainability.

Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association (FL), 2010

Summary: Through the Center for Technology and Education, HCTA has created an online platform where teachers can gather in “teacher learning communities.” The focus of these communities is the district’s Empowering Effective Teachers project, which is changing teachers’ evaluation, pay and career opportunities. Through Webinars, wikis, and video sharing, teachers are receiving the knowledge and information they need to succeed.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. Offer access to research-based content and to experts in the field of teaching and learning.
  2. Help teachers understand and support the EET objectives.
  3. Foster a social network for effective teaching strategies.

New York State United Teachers (NY), 2009

Summary: NYSUT and a consortium of local unions created an educator-driven approach to rigorous and meaningful teacher evaluation and development called TED. This integrated system includes a standards rubric; multiple measures of student achievement and teacher practice; targeted professional development; consideration of teaching and learning conditions; peer assistance and review; and implementation guidelines. In 2010, the AFT won a federal “Investing in Innovation (i3)” grant to train evaluators and stakeholders. The state department of education has approved the teacher practice rubric for use across New York.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. Build a comprehensive teacher development and evaluation system.
  2. Train teachers and evaluators in the new system.
  3. Pilot the work to improve teaching and meet the needs of students as well as the new standards in the teacher/principal evaluation law enacted in 2010.

Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RI), 2009

Summary: RIFTHP brought together a consortium of local unions to establish a multidistrict approach to more rigorous and meaningful teacher development and evaluation. This system, based on state teaching standards, evidence of student learning and measures of learning environment conditions, was approved by the Rhode Island education department for use statewide. In addition, the labor-management collaboration underlying it has ensured that the participating districts are well positioned to make the most of the system. In 2010, the AFT won a federal "Investing in Innovation (i3)" grant to train evaluators and stakeholders, of which the RIFTHP is a partner.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. To build a comprehensive teacher development and evaluation system.
  2. To train teachers and evaluators in the new system.
  3. To begin piloting the work to improve teaching and meet the needs of students.
  4. To create tools and materials so that the system can be shared nationwide.

Toledo Federation of Teachers (OH), 2010

Summary: The union, in partnership with the Toledo Public Schools, has created a pilot performance pay program that sets high teaching standards, and recognizes and rewards vertical and horizontal teams of math and reading teachers who demonstrate collaboration, effective skills and strategies that result in improved teacher practice, and increased student achievement. The program also offers incentives to parents and guardians for participation in their children’s education. The partnership is expanding to include early elementary grades and music, physical education and art.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. To improve student achievement in the core academic areas and enrichment areas.
  2. To increase teacher collaboration and foster new types of collaboration.
  3. To recognize outstanding teaching and foster successful teaching practices.
  4. To increase parental involvement in the schools.

Volusia Teachers Organization (FL), 2010

Summary: VTO, in partnership with the Volusia County Schools, is investing in fair and accurate ways to use evidence of student learning in a teacher development and evaluation system. Volusia will implement a pilot program to assess teachers using student learning objectives (SLOs), measures that are collaboratively developed between educators and evaluators. The grant is also supporting the partners to adopt standardized measures of student learning that meet those same stringent criteria of fairness and accuracy.

Intended Outcomes:

  1. Identifying fair and valid uses for multiple measures of student learning.
  2. Developing alternative assessments for subjects not currently tested or assessed formally.
  3. Pilot program to assess teachers based on SLOs.