Beyond Buy-In: Options for Combining Teacher Support with Teacher Effectiveness

aspengroupImproving systems for supporting and evaluating teachers is an urgent priority in states and districts all across the country. To learn from this work and strengthen efforts moving forward, the Aspen Institute Education and Society Program has published several profiles of leading efforts in the field.

Recently, the Aspen Institute released the next installment: a profile of teacher engagement in Denver Public Schools’ design, pilot, and refinement of its new system for assessing and improving teacher performance. Beyond Buy-In examines the ways Denver has created active leadership roles for teachers and the union, as well as many informal and anonymous channels for teachers to provide feedback and guidance on this initiative.

When Denver Public Schools created a new educator effectiveness system, Leading Effective Academic Practice (LEAP), the central office modeled a fundamental shift in philosophy: Instead of designing LEAP in the central office first and then using targeted communication strategies to encourage educators to “buy into” the new system, DPS made a serious commitment to deeply engage teachers and principals in every step of LEAP’s design, development, and rollout. Since then, DPS has leveraged a wide variety of strategies to ensure that LEAP’s ongoing development is deeply informed by educators’ experiences and ideas. Written by veteran journalist and educator Craig Jerald, Beyond Buy-In investigates how Denver’s approach unfolded and how it can inform the work of other system leaders nationwide.

While engagement is of course not a guarantee of success, and it’s important to note that Denver’s system is still a work in progress, it is worth considering the multiple avenues Denver created for teachers to actively engage in the process, and the potential this represents to build shared ownership and responsibility among teachers.

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