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Educational or instructional coaches – also called “master teachers” – in elementary and secondary education are facilitators who train other teachers to improve instructional practices and generate higher levels of student achievement (Buly et al, 2004). Specifically, they are trained to serve as support for schools and districts experiencing “market failure;” i. e. , that have large numbers of students unable to meet state and federal achievement standards (Buly et al, 2004).
This document is written as an outline to provide qualitative and quantitative evidence (in economic and real terms) that justifies educational managers (elementary, middle and high school principals, superintendents and school board members) utilizing educational/instructional coaches to achieve the following goals: (1) improving aggregate output through schools’ and districts’ overall level of student achievement on state- and/or federally-mandated testing, and (2) improving micro-level behavior through resource allocation, individual classroom management, implementation of learning strategies and instruction of subject matter.
The following is a summary of the main points of this document: • Discussion of what educational/instructional coaches are and their estimated microeconomic impact on students’ and teachers’ performances • Discussion of district and schools’ economic costs and factors including fiscal policy, funding sources, overall output and the impact of budgetary decisions such as hiring educational/instructional coaches • An econometric case study: regression analysis of schools in Duval County Public Schools in Jacksonville, Florida that utilize educational/instructional coaches
Definition The field of education, unlike some markets, is not perfectly competitive. Individual buyers (students) and sellers (teachers) do have the ability to significantly influence the cost and quality of education. Consequently, educators continuously strive to make the educational marketplace more efficient and productive; i. e. , they search for methods and tools that improve the process of and environment for learning and address the diverse and changing needs of teachers and students.
Unfortunately, the field of education is constrained by limits, and the equitable and efficient distribution of income (state and federal funding) and other resources (teachers) remains an issue that managers (educational administrators such as superintendents, school board members and principals) must address annually. In 1989, an educational organization called the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) developed America’s Choice, a school design model based on high quality instructional materials, technical support and professional development for teachers (NCEE, 2009).
Educational/instructional coaches are a central component of America’s Choice (NCEE, 2009). The goal of this paper is to determine whether or not educational managers are making the most fiscally responsible decision when hiring educational/instructional coaches to meet district- and school-based needs. While educational/instructional coaches are an often-used solution in some school districts, managers have other alternatives available to provide support to teachers and students in the classroom. These options utilize different methods of resource allocation. One alternative to “classroom coaching” is making capital improvements.
An example of a capital improvement is upgrading a district’s and/or school’s technological infrastructure. This would involve purchasing computers and/or networks with more memory and larger capacities for data storage and manipulation, increasing the value and useful life of a district’s or school’s technological infrastructure. This could also involve purchasing software such as web-based educational tools for both students and teachers to use. Another option is additional training for teachers through in-service workshops (training provided during the school day) or additional education courses (college and/or university level).
A third alternative is realignment of the student-teacher ratio based on aggregate demand; i. e. , the total demand (number of students) for goods (teachers/classes) and services (instruction) in the educational market (classroom). A fourth alternative is awarding financial bonuses to teachers with high or greatly improved student achievement rates. Educational/Instructional Coaches: Their Economic Costs and Factors When evaluating the benefits of using educational/instructional coaches, educational managers must ask themselves, “What are the accounting and opportunity costs of this decision?
” In other words, managers need to determine expenses like salary, benefits, health insurance for the educational/instructional coaches; they also must construct the benefits of other educational options. According to payscale. com, a global, online compensation database, the average salary for K-12 public school teachers in the United States is $42,000 annually for a nine-month school year (Payscale, Inc. , 2009). Educational coaches are often at the top tier for teachers’ salaries and make on average $52,000 each year (Payscale, Inc. , 2009).
Thus, the opportunity cost of hiring an educational coach at a school is, on average, $52,000 annually. An educational manager have an additional $52,000 (plus the cost of insurance and benefits) within his/her budget to invest in computer hardware, software, training for existing teachers, or actually hiring a new teacher (thereby reducing the teacher/student ratio). If a school principal hired more than one educational coach – many schools have one for every major academic discipline – the costs would be even greater. Across a school district, the aggregate costs would be much larger.
For example, Duval County Public Schools is a school district in Jacksonville, Florida, has 160 schools, and uses America’s Choice, employing educational coaches at all 160 schools (Duval County Public Schools, 2009). At the very least, Duval County Public Schools’ accounting cost for hiring 160 educational coaches would be (on average) approximately 8. 32 million dollars annually, not including benefits and insurance. While educational managers must consider costs, they must also contend with economic factors. There are a wide range of economic factors that affect educational managers’ ability to hire educational coaches.
Some of the most important are federal and state government policies, school district management, taxation, and student achievement levels. Before educational managers can make hiring decisions, school districts must meet state and federal approval through accreditation (Duval County Public Schools, 2009). Accreditation is the process by which “an official body gives authority to something when recognized standards are met” (Lindberg, Ed. , 2004, p. 8). The governing body for public schools in the southern part of the United States is the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools (SACS).
In October 2008, SACS awarded Duval County Public Schools full accreditation, which indicates the district complied with meeting state and federal standards for student achievement (Duval County Public Schools, 2009). Schools must be accredited to hire new staff. Thus, the accreditation process was necessary before educational managers could hire educational coaches. Another factor affecting the hiring process is district management. Before principals can finalize hiring any new educators, including educational coaches, the new hires must be approved by the school board (Duval County Public Schools, 2009).
The school board is “a local authority responsible for the provision and maintenance of schools” (Lindberg, Ed. , 2004, p. 1220). In Duval County Public Schools, for example, the school board must vote on whether or not they approve principals hiring educational coaches. Another factor affecting the hiring of educational coaches is funding. Funding for school districts is a fiscal policy issue and comes from a combination of local, state and federal sources (Howell & Miller, 1997). Local funding is generally financed by property taxes (Howell & Miller, 1997). State financing is generally through sales taxation (Howell & Miller, 1997).
Both local and state taxation are affected by state policy decisions and voting decisions of the population (Howell & Miller, 1997). For example, a governor may issue a proposition to reduce property taxes across a state. If the population votes to accept the tax reduction, the funds available to make hiring decisions are reduced. While federal monies are financed through national income tax, these come to schools and schools districts via an assortment of federally mandated programs, often for at-risk student populations (U. S. Department of Education, 2007).
For example, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the most recent federal education legislation. Enacted in 2001, NCLB is an initiative of former U. S. President George W. Bush and it authorizes the distribution of educational grants for low-income students, textbooks, professional development for educators and more (U. S. Department of Education, 2007). Often a school’s student population determines how much and if that school can receive federal funding (U. S. Department of Education, 2007) Thus, government policy decisions at the local, state and federal levels affect educational managers’ decisions to hire educational coaches.
A final factor that determines whether or not educational managers hire educational coaches is actual student achievement. If a school has a significant number of students not meeting state and federal achievement standards, educational managers seek solutions through options like educational coaches. For example, in Duval County Public Schools, William M. Raines High School has a student population characterized by low-incomes and low test scores (Duval County Public Schools, 2009). The school district also contains Stanton High School, rated