Teacher Recruitment and Retention Blue Ribbon Commission Presents Final Recommendations for Improving Culture and Climate in Schools

Aug 15, 2023

The State Board of Education’s (State Board’s) Teacher Recruitment and Retention Blue Ribbon Commission (Commission) presented its final recommendations to the State Board at its meeting on August 15. The Commission’s recommendations fall into four categories: immediate support for classroom management, evidence-based models for reorganizing schools, master teaching certificate, and school and district leadership improvements.

“The Commission worked hard to understand the levers available at the state level to impact working conditions for educators and school culture at the local level,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “While local school leaders and boards of education ultimately develop the policies and procedures that influence climate and culture, we believe exploring these new strategies and implementing these changes statewide can create a better framework for local leaders to work from.”    

Immediate Support for Classroom Management

  • Investigate opportunities to expand apprenticeship and residency programs across Missouri to place more high-quality teacher candidates in classrooms.
  • Work with Missouri education organizations to market opportunities to teachers who have retired or otherwise left the classroom to return in a support role.

Evidence-Based Models for Reorganizing Schools

  • Conduct an assessment to determine whether any local education agencies (LEAs), including administrators and teachers, are currently using an advanced teaching roles model and, if so, which ones, and then develop a best practices document for statewide distribution.
  • Establish a voluntary annual evaluation and reporting process for LEAs that have adopted an advanced teaching roles model to inform continued sharing of best practices.
  • Review Career Ladder program statutes and regulations to ensure it can support advanced teaching roles as a source of funding.
  • Work with the legislature to establish a grant funding process for LEAs implementing an advanced teaching roles model.
  • Provide resources and guidance to LEAs on accessing alternative funding sources to support implementation.
  • Provide support at the Regional Professional Development Center level for district and school leaders who are implementing advanced teaching roles.

Master Teaching Certification

  • Work with stakeholders to explore the creation of a master teaching certificate.
  • Create uses and/or compensation for the master teaching certificate.

School and District Leadership

  • Work with the Missouri School Boards’ Association to ensure that training for school board members includes their role in supporting a positive school culture and climate.
  • Work with the Missouri Association of School Administrators to ensure that training for district leaders includes their role in supporting a positive school culture and climate.
  • Expand the Missouri Leadership Development System (MLDS) to serve all principals and assistant principals statewide, including the possibility of an annual appropriation to fund this expansion.
  • Use MLDS programming to further support principals’ work to develop a positive school climate and culture, including effective student discipline.
  • Collect additional data on the demographics of MLDS participants to monitor and ensure that Missouri is producing and supporting high-quality school leaders statewide who are able to support a teacher workforce that reflects the demographics of the state’s student population.

The Commission members also clearly communicated their support of the work group currently developing K-12 learning standards for Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), which were also presented to the State Board at its meeting on August 15, noting the clear connection between overall school climate and culture and the development of competencies that better equip students to become successful students and productive contributors to a global society.

“Blue Ribbon Commission members have heard from teachers across the state who are struggling with student discipline, and research shows that schools with a positive climate and culture have lower rates of absenteeism, bullying, and violent incidents,” said Mark Walker, Chairman and CEO of TransLand, who served as Commission Chair. “The Commission recommends ongoing and comprehensive professional development related to these standards, for all levels of the organization, and a clear and reasonable timeline for implementation.”

The full report, including more details about each recommendation, can be found on the Commission’s webpage here. The State Board will consider these recommendations and other initiatives when developing its priorities this fall for the upcoming 2024 legislative session.