Leading on Leadership: A Profile of the New York City Teacher Incentive Fund Grant That Created Teacher Career Pathways

Jenny DeMonte and Robert M. Stonehill

In 2012, the New York City Department of Education faced a problem that many districts struggle with: the schools with the most needs did not necessarily have the tools or the professional learning opportunities needed to substantially improve teaching and learning. This was particularly true in the district’s middle schools, where achievement scores in reading and mathematics had regressed in several previous years and teacher turnover was higher than in elementary and high schools. New York City district leaders recognized that if students are to succeed in high school, college, and career, then achievement in middle school is critical to that trajectory.

To intervene at the middle school level, the district proposed a novel plan: target efforts to support the best teacher talent to the schools with the most need by creating a “career lattice,” allowing the most effective teachers to stay in the classroom while taking on leadership roles to help other teachers.

This brief quotes extensively from interviews with the teachers involved to describe the program's challenges and successes.