Saturday, February 20, 2010

Clarity on the "Instructional Specialists" vs "Instructional Supervisors"

Bloggers - we try very hard to ensure that we are dealing in facts, however, apparently, our confusion as to the roles of Instructional Specialists have left our readers with the wrong impression and wrong facts. We truly apologize. We have now been given the gift of facts via some very intense research by one of our own. We have unfortunately, left readers with the impression that all of the jobs labeled "Instructional Specialists" are what some people refer to as "Gloria Talley's Army".

Yes, Gloria has built up quite a large group of "Instructional Supervisors" - those people who supposedly supervise teachers, send out email recovery plans, schedule meetings and critique bulletin boards. However, the actual title "Instructional Specialist", while sounding similar, is totally different. We had discussed this in the comments area of a couple of posts, however, it is important enough to warrant a front page article. These people are teachers and we want that known and clarified. They have a whole different job description from "Instructional Supervisors" - they are special teachers such as art, music, and P.E.

Here is a brief overview of the facts from our dear researcher/reader:

I often read on the blog about the "army of instructional specialists", some 400+ in number. I know the general consensus is that there are 400+ additional people sitting around Building B, taking over $20 million from schools, adding to the "district administrative bloat", and doing nothing to support children. I know for a fact that this is not true in the case of the "Instructional Specialists P-8". I also know (and completely understand why) the website's visitors would be very distrustful of anyone who defends the district office.

I went to the page for the 2008-2009 school year and downloaded the entire list of 445 names. I looked up every single name and determined the person's role in the district. The "Instructional Specialists P-8" are, in fact, teachers. When the district has to classify employees for the state CPI (Certified/Classified Personnel Index) report that is displayed on the site, the district is restricted by the state's titles. There is no way to identify those teachers who are certified as K-12 specialists and work in elementary or middle schools. The only title under which those teachers may be classified is "Instructional Specialists P-8". The breakdown of the 445 "Instructional Specialists P-8" who work in our elementary and middle schools is as follows:

Art -- 65 teachers
Band/General Music/Chorus/Orchestra/Strings -- 153 teachers
Physical Education -- 182 teachers
Left the system after 2008-2009 -- 45 teachers

(I put the music teachers together as they often serve multiple roles in the elementary & middle schools. For example, someone may be classified as "Chorus" but be teaching the music, orchestra, and band courses as well.)

So, please, do not come to the microphone at the board meetings using the "Instructional Specialists" as ammunition when they are really teachers. If we cut those employees, we will be cutting the very people that you fight for every year. I know there are MANY reasons to be upset with the district, but this is not one of them. Be mad for a litany of reasons, but don't throw the Instructional Specialists into the mix. They serve children every day. They also represent $23,865,446.18 of the budget that has been incorrectly attributed to the district office.

Now, the Instructional Supervisors - well, if anyone can clarify their roles and value, please share your input in the comments!


Anonymous said...

Get rid of the INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES, those under the aegis of Audria Berry. They are in all the Title I schools, and their invidious presence is sucking the very life out of the teachers they terrorize daily. These INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES seem to believe that they are indeed administrators and have the right to supervise teachers. This "supervision" occurs because the INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES seem to believe that, in order for them to maintain their positions, they must throw teachers under the bus to show that they, the INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES, are doing a worthwhile job.

Get rid of INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES and not the INSTRUCTIONAL COORDINATORS who are needed to insure appropriate curricular implementation.

Thank you for your support.

Cerebration said...

See how confusing these job titles are?! Thanks for the additional clarity Anon.

Anonymous said...

The bulk of non-teaching personnel are Support personnel - MIS, Service Center, Human Resources, Finance, Construction, etc. They represent 5,700+ employees and untold millions.

For example, there are 61 employees alone in Human Resources representing $3,591,165 in salaries and close to $1,000,000 in benefits cost (pdf file on DeKalb Website lists them and I looked up every salary on the state salary and travel online audit). And this figure does not include maintaining the automatic sub finder or the MIS employees devoted to programming, etc.

Human Resources accounts for 61 employees out of 5,700.

DeKalb teachers and students get very poor service in the air and heating, construction, technology, and other service areas. Teachers have complained about this time and again on this blog.

To name some of the concerns we have heard from parents and teachers on this blog that are in the Support personnel realm:
Broken toilets, shoddy construction, construction costs overruns, filthy bathrooms, broken computers that never get fixed, expensive time consuming software like the eSis system, printers and interactive boards installed late and improperly, heating and air that work intermittently, electrical work that takes forever to get done......

DeKalb students deserve efficient support personnel who get the job done in a cost effective way. Unless DeKalb Schools addresses the problem of an enormous number of inefficient Support personnel, we will continue to put dollars into an employment machine instead of the classrooms.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:11 pm

While your defense of Instructional Coordinators is laudable, I am old enough to remember when we ran the county on 4 Content Coordinators - a Math Coordinator, a Social Studies Coordinator, a Science Coordinator, and a Language Arts Coordinator (Ginny Mickish who also was the ESOL Coordinator). And we weren't all that much smaller than we are now. It was much smoother, everyone knew who to go to, and the content coordinator knew what kids needed in elementary and middle to be successful in high school (continuity was a big plus).

These coordinators had some clerical support, but basically they ran it all. They were not constantly scouting for programs to implement in the schools or always asking teachers for data.

The eSis system was really pushed for by the Instructional Coordinators because they wanted a massive database of student data and the ability to run reports (Smartweb did not give them this). Same thing with benchmark tests. And what do teachers and students get in return - more time off task.

The classroom would be more efficient without an army of Instructional Coordinators. Teachers know the curriculum. All teachers take curriculum classes in college in their education classes. The GACE (tests all teachers take to be certified) also ensures teachers know the curriculum.

If a teacher does not understand curriculum after a Bachelors, Masters, Specialist, or Doctorate in Education after hundreds and hundreds of hours of classes, how will an Instructional Coordinator teach it in the brief, mass inservices they conduct on busy planning days or after hours when teachers are exhausted after teaching all day?

As for Instructional coaches - if the emails the teachers sent to this blog are examples of their job functions, I feel sorry for the students in the Title 1 schools. The job of Instructional Coach should be eliminated to free up money for the classroom.

Anonymous said...

These several coordinators are looking relentlessly for new untested ideas to pass on down as if teachers do not have their hands full!

On one hand the coordinators sling the stuff and hope it sticks on the educational wall.

The fewer the coordinators, the more focused will they be on the ESSENTIAL. They might stop drowning teachers with TRIVIALITIES!

Cerebration said...

So, let's see, I'm still confused - there are "Instructional Specialists" (which we've determined are "specials" teachers like art, music and PE) and then there are "Instructional Coaches" who are Title 1 school employees whose job I don't understand, and then there are "Instructional Coordinators" who implement curriculum (? not sure what that means) and then there are "Instructional Supervisors" - what do they do?

Anonymous said...

Yes. Instructional coaches are the ones that to the school and hold meeting, check bulletin boards etc. at Title I schools. Initially, they have been funded by grant money from the federal government. Last spring, when stimulus money became available, Dekalb County was able to use some of this money to fund additional Instructional Coaches. The only part that Dekalb would have to contribute would be TRS, health insurance etc. THeir salaries are hefty. For the ones I checked I saw salaries in the 80's and 90's. Teachers really resent the people in these jobs. They really do not do anything to make a difference in the quality of education in the schools.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 7:48

I’ll do 2 posts back to back to explain Instructional Supervisors versus Instructional Specialists.

Regarding the difference in Instructional Supervisors and Instructional Specialists.

The title Instructional Supervisor and Instructional Specialist (found on the state Salary and Travel audit) are state of Georgia titles. For example, there is no such title as Instructional Supervisor in DeKalb.

These titles are state of Georgia designations in order to standardize and collapse job titles in some meaningful way so that data sorts can occur. Please refer to my posts in the strand “Parents Want Schools Chief to Give Back Raise” Anonymous 10:21 and 12:42 pm and 3:11 pm on the enormous number of job titles in DeKalb Schools and the “Pay and Performance Audit” that was done under Johnny Brown.

When the state started the audit, personnel had to be placed under categories in order to have any meaningful organization, so employees with similar functions are placed together in categories the state has pre-designated such as Instructional Supervisor or Instructional Specialist P-8, Staff Development Specialist, Graduation Coach, etc..

In Fulton County and Forsyth County Salary and Travel audits, you will see Instructional Supervisors too, but the personnel in that category have all kinds of different titles just like DeKalb. Titles change all the time as new programs and jobs are created, but the state wants anyone who accesses that site to be able to compare the number of people it takes to perform similar functions from county to county and to compare the cost associated with that function.

Most of the personnel listed as Instructional Supervisors are coordinators although a few have the title of director or assistant director. These are Central Office personnel. They run in-services, are in charge of benchmark tests, data analysis, distributing materials to the school, observing teachers and giving feedback, and generally coordinate whatever program they are working for.

I counted 62 of them and they account for $5,813,863 in salaries and around $1,453,465 (25% override) in benefits for a total of $7,267,328 a year.

Forsyth County Schools is half our size or 50,000 students and they have 16 Instructional Supervisors to the tune of $1,122,160 per year and I’m assuming 25% benefits which would be $1,402,000. Forsyth is half our size, but has only 17 employees performing the same functions as our Instructional Supervisors. Can you see the value now of forcing the counties to standardize job functions under set categories? This is data that the BOE and Dr. Lewis should be evaluating as they determine budget cuts.

Here are just a few of the titles of Dekalb Instructional Supervisors:
Magnet and Theme School, Gifted Coordinator, Title 1 Coordinator, Assistant Director Health and Wellness, Assessment and Accountability Coordinators, Educational Media Director, Elementary English/Language Arts and Social Studies Coordinator (2 of them for this job), Middle School Math Coordinator for Middle Schools, Content Coordinator for Reading First, Content Coordinator for Science (Elementary), Content Coordinator for Science, etc.

To get a feel for the numbers involved, go to this DeKalb website page to see the number of coordinators (classified as Instructional Supervisors) in this one department:

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 7:48 pm

A. Instructional Specialists P-8 are music, art, etc. special teachers in the schools teaching children. I think a poster already determined this. They teach students in classrooms.

B. Staff Development Specialists:
Most of the personnel listed as Staff Development Specialists are Instructional Coaches.

I counted 80 of them and they account for $6,169,962 in salaries and around $1,542,490 in benefits for a total of $7,712,452 a year. There were some administrative personnel in this category, but I didn’t count them since they are few and they appear to be clerical in nature.

As far as I can tell, these Instructional Coaches are based in the schools. They facilitate the teaching of various subjects, act as liaisons between the directors of various programs, and provide materials to teachers for instruction. They do not teach students in classrooms (correct me if I’m wrong here teachers – maybe they model lessons on occasion).

Instructional coaches are the ones we have heard about the most on this blog. Teachers do not seem very happy with the help they have been getting from some members of this group.

These are some of their titles:
ELL Instructional Coaches, Intervention/Prevention Coaches, Middle School Math Instructional Coaches, High School Math Instructional Coaches, Middle School ELA Instructional Coaches, High School ELA Instructional Coaches

C. Graduation Coaches
This group of academic coaches numbers 48, costs $2,778,980 and with benefits that figure goes to $3,473,725.

I believe they analyze AYP data and provide support to teachers and students to help them graduate. Someone else will have to explain the role of the Graduation coach in the middle and high schools. I know Perdue started the Graduation Coach program, but I read he cut the funding and I believe the superintendents can decide if they want to continue to pay for the program. I know they do not have set classrooms.

D. Literacy Coaches

There are 13 of them and they cost $835,352 and with benefits their cost is $1,044,190. They are in the schools. I don’t believe they have assigned classrooms like the grade leel teachers and I don’t think they function like a specialists P-12 (ie. Art, Music, etc.). I believe they are with the Reading First program. Maybe someone knows what they do in the schools.

Miscellaneous Activities
This category seems to be a catch all $6,000,000+ category. I didn’t look up every person, but some are coordinators (probably belong under the Instructional Supervisor category) and 8 of them make over $100,000 a year and some of them are principals and some of them are directors of departments.

Teachers may want to fill in some of the gaps.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous @ 8:30, this is GREAT information! Thanks for the research and clarity you provided. Information like this is vital to ensure an accurate understanding as to who is impacting learning in our schools.

Cerebration said...

Checking the State Salary Schedule for DeKalb Schools - There are 64 Instructional Supervisors - average salary $95,000. There are 444 Instructional Specialist K-8. Average salary for a full timer is around $65,000. There are no Instructional Coaches listed.

Interesting - there are 46 graduation coaches (for 22 high schools). Avg salary around $65,000.

Dunwoody Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@ cerebration 8:58 pm

No - there are no Instructional Coaches listed because that is a DeKalb job title.

DeKalb Instructional coaches are listed as Staff Development Specialists (data sort for that on the state audit).

That is the category that most closely matched the state's description of the job they are doing. The Staff Development personnel are for the most part what DeKalb calls Instructional Coaches.

Does that help clarify?

Anonymous said...

I looked up an instructional coache's salary on the salary website from the state. The coaches are listed as staff development sp (specialist).

Cerebration said...

Oh! Didn't know that - obviously. So see how easily we ordinary folk are confused?

There are 92 staff development people - average salary $75,000. Total cost - over $6.6 million in salaries.

Boy - trimming $88-$100 million is sort of like eating an elephant.

Cerebration said...

Anon 8:30 PM - I wish you had come to this blog months ago! You just answered about every question I had. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Actually, 81 Instructional Coaches. The rest are clerical personnel although I guess you could say they are part of the overhead of the Instructional Coach idea. You need to add 25% in benefits to the salary total to get a better picture of the full cost of these non-classroom personnel.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 10:35 pm

If all our schools had:
1. Clean and safe environments
2. Competent teachers
3. Cutting edge technology and science equipment
4. Reasonable pupil teacher ratios would never be asking these questions and trying so hard to get the information as to where the money is being spent.

It's a very sad commentary on DeKalb Schools top administrators and our BOE that parents/taxpayers are forced to try to sort out our budget woes.

Cerebration said...

Exactly true.

Anonymous said...

I have a very good friend that happens to be an Instructional Coordinator.... these folks had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to purchase ESIS and in fact have little say so in the programs that are adopted and/or purchased (i.e. Americas Choice, Springboard, HSTW and even the implementation of instructional coaches). They are merely the content area liaisons between the state and the district, the teachers and the district and the district and the teachers. They are truly the quintessential men in the middle! I am afraid, however, that they are currently being labeled as the "top level administrators" and may be the first to be reassigned or cut. They may be the hardest working folks in the district office, but have the least amount of cotrol.

Anonymous said...

They wanted a Student Data Management System that allows them to crunch data foe reports. ESis was the system that integrates with that system. That was supposed to be the superiority of eSis over Smartweb. They were involved.
If they make no decisions, why are they being paid administrative salaries?

Yes, we need some coordinators, but the number we have now is unstainable.

Anonymous said...

I agree that many Instructional Coordinators should staff our classrooms, and so should Instructional Coaches.

As for America's Choice, eSis, Springboard, HSTW, etc. decisions, top level administrators have not decided on these expensive educational programs that have been adopted and then produced no results except to irritate teachers. The top level administrators had help in their decisions from their team made up of who - coordinators.

If the "team" members disagree with the efficacy of a program, do they voice their concerns to their supervisor, or do they sit in meetings and agree that the approach is sound because their supervisors likes it?

As for the "top level administrators", I hope a new BOE will be elected and a new superintendent will come in. Even parents/taxpayers have their limits. They're smarter than Dr. Lewis and the current BOE treats them. Parents can walk into a rundown classroom of 33 students with scant technology and teachers just trying to make it through the day and know this is not a good learning environment for their child.

The 60+ coordinators in DeKalb Schools cost over $7,000,000 a year in salary and benefits.

The 80 Instructional coaches cost close to $8,000,000 a year in salary and benefits.

DeKalb needs teachers in the classrooms teaching students. Personally, I don't think Lewis is sending nearly nearly enough coordinators back to schools, and he should send most of the instructional coaches back as well.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:41 pm

$15,000,000 in salary and benefits for the Instructional Coaches and Instructional Coordinators represents 268 teachers with Masters degrees in their content area and 3 years teaching experience (assuming $56,000 with salary and 25% override for benefits).

Are the Instructional Coordinators and Instructional Coaches worth 268 teachers serving 7,000 students (assuming 26 students to a classroom)?

It's a question you have to ask.

Anonymous said...

"They were involved.
If they make no decisions, why are they being paid administrative salaries?"

From what I hear, every idea at DCSS is a bright idea until it falls lame in the classroom.

After all these ideas comes either from people who have been out of the classroom too long or were in the classroom for too little time.

I got a feeling that the coordinators, for fear of giving up high salary and freedom from kids/students agree with whatever is advocated by the higher echelon.

You would think that part of being a leader and getting paid those high salaries would imply a certain integrity.Calm your fears, all you will hear is "this is a non-negotiable!".

Teachers tell me that they have the same grading percentages across the board from English, History, Science... Surely a project in science is not the same as a project in English!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Most of you seem so bitter and jealous. I am sure there are some Instructional Coaches who are ineffective and should go back into the classroom. However, with all of the mandates and expectations, data analysis, etc. set forth from NCLB, more support is necessary at the school level in the form of "specialists". Frankly, without many of them, positive change would continue to be a challenge in the educational system. If you want to be paid more, go to school, obtain the appropriate degrees, and interview for a higher paying position, instead of, so conveniently, pointing the finger at others and TALKING about what they are doing wrong. No disrespect, but many of you come across as very pathetic. My apologies if I've offended anyone, but honesty is necessary at times.

M G said...

Anon 11:01

ALL Instructional Coaches should be returned to the classroom. We need teachers in the classroom teaching students. Period. End of Story.

Specialists at the school level aren't providing support for anyone except the copier companies and the paper suppliers. If there are struggling teachers in a school, pair them with one of these coaches. Let them teach in rooms adjacent to each other, plan together, and interact around the actual teaching and learning, NOT more made up paperwork for data collection.

During my first years of teaching, I learned more from simply working with the other teachers on my grade level than I ever did from any workshop or "coaching."

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:01 pm

"..If you want to be paid more, go to school, obtain the appropriate degrees, and interview for a higher paying position"

This comment goes to the heart of the problem. Classroom teachers are the most important people to children and parents, not administrators or support personnel such as instructional coaches.

This attitude of "getting out of the classroom" so you make more money and don't teach our children is not what we pay our taxes for.

We want more teachers in the classroom, not less. We taxpayers are not the least bit interested in your "career path" at our expense. You seem to forget that all DeKalb Schools employees are paid by us.

I really don't feel as a parent and taxpayer that I'm pathetic because I want more teachers in the classroom in order to have a lower pupil teacher ratio for my child. I have immense respect for my child's teacher even if you make more money than she does because she is teaching my child and keeping her safe every day.

I also trust the classroom teacher who tells me the way she is being asked to teach is not effective for my child, and reading the scripts that the instructional specialists read from I can see why.

There have been no positive changes from the instructional coaches we parents have seen, but plenty of negative ones.

It's apparent from your attitude that you feel superior to teachers. I'm glad you wrote this post. This is typical of the attitude we parents are hearing about that is causing our teachers such concern and is costing us taxpayers so dearly.

Dekalbparent said...

Talking to a friend who taught in Fulton until she retired, and is now subbing. Her observations of FulCo sound just like what I see here: bloated central office, people coming into her classroom to count materials and check her displays, but never saying anything - just checking things off, silly decisions about appropriate teaching methods (she is a special ed teacher, and told me about having to take her students to a regular ed classroom for a math lesson and then having to take them back to her classroom to re-teach the lesson because the way it was presented did not work for her students - her way [product of specialized classes and long experience] did.)

So I'm thinking that the screwing up of education is a widespread problem, grown over years of theories and programs, and that un-doing the damage is a long-term project.

Anonymous said...

Really good article:

"Building a Better Teacher"