Elevating Teacher Effectiveness in a Rural Community

Elevating Teacher Effectiveness in a Rural Community

Findings from a Teacher Incentive Fund grant

Schools in rural communities face many challenges in retaining effective teachers, many of which are beyond school leaders' control: need for educators to serve multiple roles, lower teacher salaries, and large percentages of students from low-income backgrounds. However, cultivating a school culture where teachers are supported to be effective can positively impact teacher retention and improve student outcomes − and that shift is one that school leaders can influence.

This study, Elevating Teacher Effectiveness in a Rural Community, examines the impact of a federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant award that expanded a partnership between Cross County School District and NIET to create systems that support ongoing, continuous improvement for teachers. Through the implementation of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement, the district is implementing a coherent and integrated set of strategies rooted in a common vision for instructional excellence.

Results from the first three years of the grant indicate progress towards increasing teacher collegiality, improving teacher effectiveness, increasing teacher retention, and impacting student achievement. 

Specific outcomes include:

  • 98% of surveyed teachers reported high levels of collegiality in their school in 2018-19
  • 94% of teachers had ratings of "effective" or higher in 2018-19, a 19-point increase since 2015-16
  • 96% of effective teachers were retained in 2019-20, a 21-point increase since 2016-17
  • Passing rates on state assessments showed 6-8 point gains for all subjects from 2015-16 to 2018-19, compared with 1-2 point increases in schools with similar demographic characteristics

The focus on data-driven instructional decisions molds the culture of our school into one where teachers and their students strive for greatness.
Jessica Stacy, Principal, Cross County Elementary Technology Academy