How Teacher Career Ladder Positions Align to a District’s Human Capital Management Approach



A significant challenge to implementing a successful comprehensive human capital management system is ensuring that that teaching and leading practices in classrooms remain focused and aligned to the broader districts goals. A critical role in this linkage are teacher career ladder positions – roles that focus on district strategic goals through aligned focus areas that relevant for new and career teacher improvement.

Teacher career ladder positions offer alternative pathways to career progression and advancement, while staying focused on teaching practice and in some cases, remaining at least part-time in the classroom. Career ladder positions, such as coaches, mentor teachers, or teacher support colleagues, serve as the connecting point between supporting teachers in the classrooms while cognizant of broader district strategic goals. Job-embedded professional supports are informed by teachers’ practice evaluations – and the evaluation system provides the unifying link between the types of professional supports needed, and overall classroom, school, and district performance goals.  

District strategic goals that focus on enhancing and supporting teacher quality may use a ‘human capital management system approach’ to align their strategic teaching and learning goals, and set the direction for schools to adapt teaching, learning, and leadership practices. Human capital management practices include teacher recruitment, hiring and selection, placement in schools and classrooms, job-embedded professional development, career ladder positions, compensation, and promotion. These practices work together as a system of supports for the arc of a teacher’s career, as well as provide a coherent set of district strategies aimed at increasing the quality of teaching and learning overall.

In the Teacher Incentive Fund grant program, grantees implement human capital management systems over the course of 5 years. One grantee implemented an innovative career ladder position – the Teacher Support Colleague – to serve as a critical link to job-embedded professional development informed by the teachers’ unique needs informed in large part by their teaching practice evaluations. Teacher Support Colleagues – who themselves are high quality, veteran teachers - serve as ‘human capital managers’ in schools. They track and support teacher professional learning needs in classrooms, align their work to the district’s broader human capital management strategy, and support school leadership decision-making around teaching practice. A unique characteristic of this position is that they are not involved in the evaluation of teachers, thus centering their role in professional supports that allow for sensitive conversations with teachers about how to improve their practice without fear of reprisal through the accountability system.

For more in-depth information of the alignment between career ladder positions and human capital management systems via the Teacher Incentive Fundplease see this report.