New Designs for Staffing and Staff Development for Secondary and Postsecondary Education

Publication December 1999

Many secondary and postsecondary schools in the United States are undergoing major changes as they seek improvements in access, responsiveness, performance, and efficiency. The changes include increased integration of subject-matter areas, closer coordination of school- and community-based learning, and improved articulation among educational levels and systems. These changes, in turn, call for new roles and responsibilities for those who staff secondary and postsecondary schools. The purposes of this project were to develop (1) a conceptual framework for the new roles and responsibilities of staff who will lead and support educational change, (2) a list of the competencies needed by staff in their new roles, and (3) recommendations on how the competencies might best be developed in preservice and in-service staff development programs.

This development is grounded in the plans and experiences of high schools that have applied New Designs for the Comprehensive High School (NDCHS) and community and/or technical colleges that have applied New Designs for the Two-Year Institution of Higher Education (NDTYI), both previous works of the National Center for Research in Vocational Education (NCRVE), as well as a broader review of research and best practices in staffing and staff development in high schools and community/technical colleges across the country.

The method of study included several activities relating to both staffing and staff development: (1) a review and revision of the recommended design features of high schools and colleges originally proposed in NDCHS (Copa, Beck, & Pease, 1992) and NDTYI (Copa & Ammentorp, 1997), (2) a review of research and best practices for staffing and staff development for high schools and community/technical colleges, and (3) a conference/workshop of researchers and practitioners with expertise in staffing and staff development for high schools and community/technical colleges.

Recommendations were made to improve professional practices in schools and colleges, policies guiding staffing and staff development, and further research on this topic. The recommendations include (1) broadening the traditional meaning of staff to add others who contribute in significant ways to the learning experience (e.g., students, family, and mentors);  (2) expanding the framework for needed competencies beyond teaching by adding competence in leading, partnering, counseling, designing, and learning; (3) recognizing the importance of staff development for all categories of staff and all areas of competence to achieving successful educational reform; and (4) envisioning learning environments that lead to effective and efficient development of the competencies required of all staff to facilitate educational improvement in high schools and community/ technical colleges.

Copa, G. H., Plihal, J., Birky, G., & Upton, K. (1999, December). New designs for staffing and staff development for secondary and postsecondary education. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

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