Navigating Talent Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Career Pathways in Charter Schools

By Jennifer Svendsen

As schools continue to deal with diminishing budgets, high student enrollment numbers, and less time to find the right candidate for their openings, the need to address common retention and attraction issues is paramount. Even more, with less funding coming through for charter schools everywhere, leaders must consider what changes they can make without straining their budget. In this blog post, the final in my 4-part series, we’ll explore a solution that could transform your school’s approach to talent management—career pathways.

Get caught up on my series here

Understanding Career Pathways

“Career pathways”, a concept more commonly associated with corporate settings, can be a powerful tool for charter schools. This process defines the trajectory an employee can take within an organization, providing a roadmap for career progression. While not as prevalent in the education sector, the implementation of career pathways in charter schools can create internal pipelines for nurturing talent, starting from instructional aides, leading all the way to a leadership position. 

Let’s explore how charter schools can envision and implement effective career pathways for their staff.

Building the Foundation: Job Classification Framework

To kickstart the process of implementing career pathways, leaders and their HR team will need to establish a job classification framework. This framework should clearly define how jobs are divided between different levels and groups within the organization, and it should visually represent the pathways for career advancement. By doing so, schools will create a structured approach that serves as the foundation for career growth and development.

Competency Framework: Defining the Skills for Success

Just as we discussed creating a job classification framework, a well-defined competency framework is also instrumental. It differs from job classification in that it outlines the skills and expertise required at each job level. This framework serves as a guide for both employees and administrators, enabling them to understand the competencies necessary for success. By aligning professional development opportunities with these competencies, charter schools can ensure that staff members are equipped for advancement.

Transparency in Opportunities

At Edgility, we value transparency and believe it’s vital to creating trust. In this particular instance, it’s crucial to be transparent about the various options available for career growth. Can staff only progress vertically, or are there horizontal or diagonal career advancement possibilities? We encourage school leaders to communicate these options clearly and on a regular basis. Doing so helps to empower current and potential staff to make informed decisions about their professional journey within the organization.

Clarifying Promotion Criteria

As mentioned above, transparency is key. In the case of promotions, ambiguity can hinder any success gained by instituting career pathways. That’s why it’s incredibly important to remember to also establish clear and transparent promotion criteria, outlining the expectations for staff looking to advance in their careers. This clarity builds trust and fosters a culture of growth and achievement within the organization.

Managerial Training and External Partnerships

Managers (or their equivalent title in schools) play a pivotal role in guiding staff along their career pathways. Providing training for managers to effectively coach staff in areas of competencies and key performance domains is essential. Alternatively, charter schools can explore partnerships with external teacher or administrator preparation programs to enhance the skill sets of their staff. If your school can, an option to help offset professional development costs felt by staff would be to consider tuition reimbursement programs. These often encourage employees to take courses that contribute to their career advancement.

In Action

Charter schools have the opportunity to take the lead in talent management through the implementation of career pathways. By fostering transparency, defining competencies, investing in managerial training, and clarifying promotion criteria, charter school leaders can create an environment that not only attracts but also retains and nurtures the best talent. We encourage leaders to embrace this tool to help navigate the evolving education terrain and ensure a brighter future for both your staff and the students they serve.

Ready to get started? Access our career pathways guidance worksheet here.


Meet the expert:

Jennifer Svendsen

  • Builds Equitable Organizations
  • Talent Management Support
  • Closes Wage Gaps

Put your values to work. Act on equity.

We believe equity isn’t a box to check. It’s a daily action. Someone’s unique identity isn’t something to overcome–when paired with the right opportunity, it becomes one of their greatest professional assets. We exist to empower social impact organizations to recognize and overcome unconscious bias, racism and sexism so they can build a workforce that reflects and strengthens the communities they serve.