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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49 going high tech to recruit teachers

Finding good teachers is a big challenge to school districts everywhere. To better meet that challenge, the human resource team at Falcon School District 49 has implemented a new technology tool that aides in the process of hiring teachers.As the executive director of human resources for Falcon School District 49, Doug Peden has seen many changes in his 29 years with the district. Gone are the days of paper applications and the occasional new hire.Today, Peden hires en masse. ìWe hire about 150 people per year now,î he said. And thatís a good enough reason for TeacherInSight, a program developed by the Gallup Education Division.The Internet assessment tool is based on 30 years of research matching skills and talents associated with exceptional teachers. TeacherInSight uses qualitative and quantitative analyses to score applicants in four areas: relationships, motivation, instruction and diversity. The Web-based assessment takes about 30 minutes to complete, and the scores are immediately reported to the school district. Applicants who have the highest scores are targeted as potential hires, Peden said.ìWe can immediately call those candidates for interviews,î he said. Peden and Sally McDermott, D 49 HR manager of licensed personnel, said they are convinced the program is the most reliable and cost effective method of recruitment.With the program, principals can search for teachers using varied criteria. If the principal needs a third grade teacher and prefers candidates who have five or more years experience, the program brings up the candidates matching that criteria.TeacherInsight was approved by the board of education at a cost of $28,500, with an additional annual maintenance fee. ìOur goal is to hire the highest quality teachers we can, and this tool removes all bias from the hiring process,î Peden said. There are seven school districts in the state using TeacherInsight, including four in the Pikes Peak region. Only 300 out of 15,000 school districts nationwide are currently using the tool.Peden and McDermott will attend 24 job fairs between March and June to recruit new teachers in several states. ìColorado produces about 3,500 new teachers per year for 6,000 to 7,000 openings,î Peden said. ìWe go to what we call exporter states ñ states that have more teachers than jobs, which are mostly in the Midwest.î He said finding applicants interested in moving to Colorado is not usually a problem. ìWe have a great product between the state and our school district,î Peden said. ìIt practically sells itself.îPeden said 40 applicants were lined up to talk to him at a recent recruiting trip to North Dakota. The problem finding teachers is less about credentials and more about finding teachers who enjoy teaching with strong people skills that go beyond the classroom, he said. ìTeachers must be able to work as a team for the best interest of the students, the parents and the district,î Peden said.ìQuality teachers are more important than anything else.îHe cited research that showed if a student has a bad teacher three years in a row, especially in the first years of elementary school, the student will never regain the knowledge that he missed. ìIn our rapidly growing district, we need to hire and retain the best,î Peden said. ìOur students and community deserve it.î

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