The Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership is designed to raise student achievement and improve and advance teaching practices. The SEZP believes that teachers working in the Zone will also find many benefits including increased autonomy to make their own professional decisions, increased opportunities for teacher leadership, and exciting teacher opportunities not yet conceived. The information below is a primer to the SEZP and its impact so far. If you have questions not answered below, please contact us.
The Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership (SEZP) is built on four core principles:
- BUILD ON THE BEST: SEZP schools will represent both the most promising people and programs already in Springfield and the opportunity for partnerships with the best organizations from across the Commonwealth.
- EMPOWER EDUCATORS: SEZP believes that individual schools are the unit of success in education and enabled by a new teachers’ contract, SEZP teachers and leaders will be empowered in their own school to make decisions that are in the best interests of their students and families.
- SET HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Achieving a high quality, well-rounded education will drive every decision that SEZP makes. To this end, SEZP will foster a performance driven culture of high expectations Zone-wide for students, teachers, leaders, and partners alike.
- CREATE AN ECOSYSTEM OF SUPPORTS: SEZP will strive to provide diverse training and professional development opportunities to ensure that every teacher and leader gets the support he or she needs to participate in the new highly autonomous environment.
SEZP strategy is based on examples of highly successful turnaround efforts in other districts:
- SMART CHANGE: The Empowerment Zone and all those working within it must operate with patience and we must enact bold changes where necessary to achieve results for students. We must also support existing and emerging successes wherever they may be.
- STUDENT FIRST: The Empowerment Zone structure creates the conditions that significantly improve the ability of teachers and leaders to make decisions at the school to improve results for students. These conditions include significant autonomy, flexibility, and resources at the school level to design the best solutions for that school’s students.
- SCHOOL-SPECIFIC APPROACH: The Empowerment Zone structure is a framework for innovative solutions to school turnaround, not a turnaround partner. The Zone leadership believes deeply in the expertise of teachers and leaders and trusts them to design short- and long-term solutions in the best interests of students at their school.
How are the SEZP principles and strategy being implemented in schools right now?
- TLTs: Each school has a teacher elected Teacher Leadership Team (TLT) that has been tasked with the responsibility of creating the School Operational Plan (SOP). Each TLT is being supported by the National Center on Time & Learning throughout the planning process. For more information on the National Center on Time and Learning, visit www.timeandlearning.org.
- SOPs: Each School Operational Plan, designed by the school’s TLT, must be presented to and approved by the SEZP Board during the May meeting.
- PERFORMANCE GOALS: The SEZP board is currently developing bold but attainable performance goals for each school that will show the school’s progress towards closing the achievement gap.
- EXTERNAL START UP PARTNERS: Empower Schools, along with other partners, is providing TLTs and school leaders support in the development of SOPs, new calendars and schedules, individualized school budgets, and other school redesign efforts. More information about Empower Schools is available at www.empowerschools.org.
What are some of the features of the new teacher’s contract?
- EXPANDED LEARNING TIME STIPENDS: The new CBA provides additional pay for teachers working in expanded time schools.
- PROFESSIONAL COMPENSATION: A new career ladder will differentiate and compensate teachers based on their professional development and impact on students. The new system will enable highly effective teachers to attain higher levels of compensation faster than in a traditional steps and lanes system.
- AUTHENTIC TEACHER VOICE: The new contract values teacher input throughout the school planning and implementation process. It requires a Teacher Leadership Team (TLT) to be elected by the teachers at the school and vests a considerable amount of responsibility and decision making in that body. For example, working conditions will be set at the each individual school based on the SOP developed by the TLT.
Have more questions about the Springfield Empowerment Zone? Contact Us.