‘Our kids deserve amazing teachers, and that’s what we need to give them.’
As the end of the school year nears, the struggle to fill open positions before the next academic year is top of mind in many administrative offices. At Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) — which serves more than 33,000 students across 55 schools — leaders also emphasize the need to fill each position with a great educator, and they’re using first-of-its-kind technology to help them do it.
“Teachers are the most critical unit in a school district,” said Chris Tatum, director of secondary personnel at AISD. “Our kids deserve amazing teachers, and that’s what we need to give them.”
Using the Teacher Educators Professional Inventory (Teacher EPI®) — a research-based teacher candidate assessment tool — AISD empowers principals with the information they need to identify and hire the teachers who are most likely to drive student growth.
“The Teacher EPI scores help our principals make more informed hiring decisions,” Chris said. “It gives them the best chance to hire somebody that directly affects student learning every day.”
Behind the Teacher EPI is a research consortium of individuals and organizations with expertise in research, education, psychometrics and predictive analytics, who worked together to pinpoint the exact skills and abilities that lead to the most student gains.
Their research uncovered empirical evidence with high degrees of confidence that determined which teaching skills, cognitive abilities, qualifications and attitudinal factors contribute most to teacher effectiveness.
“The Teacher EPI measures all the different dimensions, not just personality or classroom readiness,” Chris said. “We used other assessments in the past — personality surveys and things like that — but they weren’t comprehensive.”
After experiencing the benefits of the Teacher EPI first hand, AISD was one of the first districts to implement the Principal EPI® — a research-based principal candidate assessment tool.
“It’s really important to have the right principal,” Chris explained. “They hire the teachers, they make campus policies and procedures, and they help our teachers with instruction. Our principals are truly district instructional leaders. They’re not just staff managers.”
Armed with a principal assessment tool designed by the same research consortium behind the Teacher EPI, Chris is confident his district will be better able to identify the best principal candidates.
“Just like with the Teacher EPI, the Principal EPI gives our hiring directors and executive team a really strong research-based evaluation that allows them to say, ‘This is the type of leader I need at this campus,’” Chris said.
Ultimately, through the hiring of superior teachers and principals, AISD will continue providing students with a quality education that lays the foundation for their success — a task Chris takes very seriously.
“We’re dealing with people’s most valuable resource: their kids,” Chris said. “We’ve got to make sure that we get the right staff.”