Fulton Schools hones teacher selection process

Designed to ‘weed out’ low potential candidates



ATLANTA – Each year, more than 9,000 applications flow into the Fulton County School System (FCSS) seeking teaching positions in the 100 schools that make up the district. Of that total, fewer than 10 percent, around 600 to 700 each year, will be hired.

While the quantity of applicants is certainly there, Fulton Schools leaders are trying to ensure the process identifies quality as well – weeding out the “low potential” from the “high potential” applicants early on.

“We have invested a lot of time and effort to improve our principal selection process…the natural logical next step is how we select teachers,” said Nathifa Carmichael, talent manager for the FCSS.

This year, the system will launch a new recruitment process that will put applicants through a more in-depth pre-screening before they ever land in the pool of candidates principals will consider.

With mandates in place at the state and national level to evaluate teacher effectiveness, the stakes are high to ensure the best teachers are at the front of classrooms, said Carmichael.

“We set out to think differently about our approach to hiring teachers [and] identify the applicants who have the greatest potential to enact change and achievement in our students,” she said.

Over the past few months, school staff members have worked to develop a selection framework consisting of exercises and rubrics, information gathered from principals and a team of “teacher selectors” who will assist in the evaluation process.

“We reached out to our top performing teachers and pulled them in to help with the [evaluation process],” said Carmichael.

Currently, all applications are considered based on resume, transcripts and other “check the box” information. If deemed complete, the applications go directly into a candidate pool for principals to consider. Under the new process, the system will use a balance of technology and human interaction to determine the pool prior to the principal involvement.

Carmichael explained the technology part first filters out those applications that do not meet professional standards, and then passes the approved applications to the selectors. The applicant will then go through a phone interview with a selector who has been trained to ask questions that reveal the applicant’s personal side and rate communication skills and other attributes that aren’t easily identifiable just on paper.

“Teaching is as much an art form as it is a science,” said Carmichael. “Therefore, we also want to know about their disposition and their attitudes. And we want to know if these applicants have a passion about teaching students in Fulton County.”

Carmichael said the process is streamlined with the goal of 72 hours from approved application to candidate. The new selection process is expected to launch April 1 and be in place for new teachers for the 2014-2015 school year.

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