Hiring quality teachers empowers student success, and Niagara Catholic knows how to identify the best

‘We want the best for our kids. That means hiring teachers that not only know the academics, but also how to teach and to teach in a way that every child’s going to learn’

Hundreds of studies have demonstrated that various factors influence student achievement, including teaching styles, class sizes, parental support, diet and more.

While some of these out-of-school factors can’t be influenced by educators, equitable and objective teacher recruitment, screening and hiring can significantly support positive student outcomes … and those processes have recently become much easier at Niagara Catholic District School Board (Niagara Catholic) in Ontario.

“I think empowering student success ultimately comes down to hiring the right people in the right positions,” said Sherry Christian, coordinator of human resources at Niagara Catholic. “Without the work of HR teams, schools wouldn’t be able to hire the best teachers and students wouldn’t have the best academic opportunities.”

To ensure Niagara Catholic schools consistently hire the best teachers, the school board recently implemented the Teacher Educators Professional Inventory (Teacher EPI)® — a research-based teacher assessment tool that helps leaders identify top teacher candidates based on qualifications, teaching skills, cognitive ability and attitudinal factors.

“Sometimes we have 10 candidates that all have the same OCT [Ontario Certified Teacher] credentials — so what defines them? What tells you which one will be a better teacher?” Sherry asked. “Having this new tool will show the difference, rather than basing decisions on their qualifications and their references.”

Using the Teacher EPI’s 100-question online assessment that compares each applicant’s answers to thousands of data points, Niagara Catholic can now measure each applicant’s likely impact on student achievement.

“What better way to assess teachers than having a test to determine their likelihood of success?” Sherry asked.

“Anybody can say anything in an interview,” she added. “Personal evaluations are only as good as the evaluator. We always try to get the right evaluator — someone with experience interviewing candidates — but you can’t always trust that’s accurate. The Teacher EPI will give us more information to conduct better evaluations.”

Immediately after a candidate completes the assessment, his or her information is instantly available to Sherry and her team. Each candidate is scored, sorted and color-coded so it’s easy to quickly identify top candidates.

“I’m a visual learner, so I always prefer that,” she said. “It makes it easier to understand and remember.”

That ease is important because of Niagara Catholic’s large candidate pools. Sherry estimates they receive approximately 60 qualified applicants per open position, so choosing the best of the best is a top priority.

“We want the best for our kids. That means hiring teachers that not only know the academics, but also how to teach and to teach in a way that every child’s going to learn … it’s just too bad we didn’t have the Teacher EPI 20 years ago.”

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