Teacher On Assignment Definition

1120 Teacher on Special Assignment

1120-Teacher on Special Assignment

Washington County School District - Approved 9-14-04: Revised 9-13-05; Revised 8-12-08; Revised 5-10-11; Revised 4-14-15; Revised 10-10-17


The purpose of this policy is to implement guidelines that will ensure appropriate and responsible use of Teachers on Special Assignment.


Teacher on Special Assignment (TSA) or Teacher Specialist is the term used to describe a licensed teacher who has been assigned to perform duties other than classroom instruction. The assignment may include, but not be limited to, working on special programs and/or curriculum development; However, TSA and Teacher Specialist assignments are not typically intended to provide or replace administrative judgment, direction, or oversight. Because a TSA opportunity provides exposure to unique program responsibility and development potentially enhancing an educator's career, it is important that eligibility, qualifications, competition requirements, and limitations are clearly defined. Further, as a teacher authorization is a valuable and scarce resource, TSA assignments must focus on the effective instruction of students and must be cautiously, wisely, and prudently used.



3.1.1.  To be eligible for consideration and placement into a TSA or specialist position, the educator must:

  • meet applicable state and federal endorsements and/or requirements for the special assignment.
  • hold a current level 2 or 3 license issued by the Utah State Office of Education;
  • be a teacher in good standing with no documented performance or conduct concerns within the past three years.

3.1.2.  Learning Coaches are required to participate in the following training activities:

  • Learning Coaches hired after July 1, 2011 are required to pass the Principals of Learning and Teaching (PLT) Praxis II examination within the first year of their assignment, unless s/he has previously passed the examination.
  • Summer Learning Coach Academy:  Learning Coaches are required to attend the yearly Learning Coach Academy to enhance their skills and share best practices in mentoring and PLC.
  • Instructional Coaching:  Each Learning Coach is required to complete the District Peer Coaching Seminar within their first year.  Then participate in yearly Instructional Coaching Professional Development, with a focus chosen in consultation with their principal (such as differentiated instruction, language arts, math, ESL, technology, etc.), that aligns with school and District goals, and leads to high levels of learning for all students.
  • Learning Coach Forums:  Learning Coaches will attend on-going forums to access implementation of key program elements, collaborate, and receive on-going training.
  • Partnership with Principal:  Unless directed by the Superintendent, the Learning Coach will not serve in an administrative role. Each Learning Coach will meet regularly (at least twice a month) with their principal to coordinate PLC efforts and support for new teachers, plan professional development and align it with school goals, examine student and teacher data to determine training needs, and determine next steps and needed support;
  • Annual Performance Review:  Principal will complete an annual performance review with their Learning Coach.  As part of the annual performance review, they need to consider available data from student assessments, PLC results, feedback from faculty, EYE and PLC surveys, etc.

3.1.3.  Learning Coaches are expected to complete the following position responsibilities:

Spend approximately 75% of their time coaching new and veteran teachers to build teacher capacity for selecting, implementing, and reflecting on effective teaching strategies and curriculum;Meet specific teaching needs of individual (new and veteran) teachers and PLC teams through the use of research-based coaching strategies, such as:  analyzing student work,  modeling effective teaching strategies, peer coaching observations, discussing case study students, reflecting and problem-solving, analyzing and reflecting on student data and authentic teaching artifacts, learning walks;

While Learning Coaches are advocates for teachers, they still have the responsibility, as all employees do, to report violations of the law or major employee conduct violations of District policy, such as child abuse, disregard for administrative directives, or acts of insubordination.

3.2. TERM:

The term of assignment is based on the nature of the project, program, and/or funding. Assignments may be limited under the terms and conditions specified in a temporary agreement. (9-13-05)


3.3.1. TSA and Specialist salary will be based on the daily rate of the applicable lane and step on the Certified Salary Schedule times the contract days listed in the following table:

Program LevelProgram RequirementsBasic ContractAddendum Agreement (by temporary agreement)Total ContractPLC Compensation
1Basic Teacher Contract Assignment1830183Yes
2TSA contract will be closely associated with school days but may require additional program planning or development outside of the school year.1835-10188Yes
3TSA contract will require substantial additional preparation, planning, or development time beyond a standard teacher contract.18318201No
4TSA contract will require working a schedule that is equivalent to an Administrative Employee on a year-round contract.18332215No


3.3.2. The workday for a TSA or Specialist assignment is eight hours. (9-13-05)

3.3.3. The TSA assignment is temporary and as such may conclude or change at any time at the sole discretion of the District. TSA or Specialists with provisional or career employment status whose assignment is abolished will be placed in a temporary position pending the opportunity for permanent placement at the beginning of the next contract year or as soon as the District is able to administratively effect a transfer to the first available vacant teaching position for which the individual is fully qualified without undue disruption. Additional compensation beyond a standard teacher contract, to include additional days, may end at any time regardless of employment status. (9-13-05)


3.4.1. TSA vacancies will be announced and filled competitively according to District Policy.

3.4.2. The District may non-competitively assign (designate an employee without announcing the position) a TSA to fill an administrative position for one year or less when the action is necessitated by an exigency, such as, but not limited to, the need to temporarily fill a principal position while the incumbent is on sabbatical or sick leave. If an administrative TSA assignment exceeds 30 days, the individual will be compensated for the daily rate of an additional 1/7th FTE for the number of days the administrative duties are assigned. The TSA may also be assigned and compensated for additional workdays.

3.4.3. A fully qualified TSA selected from outside the current permanent WCSD employee workforce will be hired under the terms and conditions of a Temporary Employment Agreement with no expectation of continued employment. At the end of the temporary employment agreement, the employment relationship with the District will simply end.

I am a first grade teacher, applying for a STEM position as a Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). This will be the first time a position like this has been offered in our district, and ours is the first elementary school to have a STEM focus. What should be the STEM teacher’s role? How do schools facilitate this? Any information that could be passed on would be appreciated.
—Elizabeth, Duluth, Minnesota

Schools are facing the challenge of providing professional development (PD) related to STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Should schools contract with outside consultants? Hire motivational speakers for once-and-done presentations? Expect (or require) teachers to learn on their own?

I’m interested that your school is thinking about using a staff member as a “Teacher on Special Assignment” (TOSA). TOSAs are experienced teachers given release time to assist teachers and administrators with projects related to curriculum and instruction. Often these positions are funded through grants or other special funds. These positions might last one year or several years. The TOSA maintains his or her position on the salary and seniority scale while performing the duties.

I was TOSA for K-12 technology, and my district also had a TOSA for elementary science. We often collaborated on PD projects integrating the two fields. We saw ourselves as “coaches” in these areas. (There is now a wealth of literature in effective coaching.) Basically, it boils down to supporting teachers rather than telling them what to do or doing things for them. TOSAs can support teachers by sharing resources and information, demonstrating strategies, asking questions, hosting PD sessions, and co-teaching. It’s important that teachers see you as a non-evaluative colleague rather than an administrator. This is sometimes a difficult role.

Before you accept the position (I’m being optimistic that you will receive the offer), I would definitely read the job description carefully. It seems like the role should be to build capacity within the faculty in terms of STEM content and practices. If you’re viewed as a “special” and teachers get (or assume they have) a planning period while you teach their classes, it would defeat this purpose. What happens then in those classrooms after you return to your first grade position?

Begin with the end in mind. Based on the current status of STEM subjects in your school, what should change as a result of your assignment? Discuss the goals and expectations with your administrator and share them with the teachers. Talk to the teachers in terms of what they need to know or be able to do to incorporate STEM topics at the elementary level.

Will you still be part of the teaching staff? What other duties might you be assigned? What resources and budget will you have? Will you be able to attend conferences? What happens after the end of the assignment? Work with your teacher’s association and ask for a written statement from the administration about your status and returning to your classroom and teaching assignment. You should definitely have a personal, secure space to work and store materials (i.e., an office).

You’ll probably be responsible for record-keeping related to the project. Keep a detailed log of your days and how you use your time, including preparation time finding information, organizing materials, and preparing demonstration lessons. Log time beyond the school day, too. Consider setting up a project website or using social media to communicate and share with teachers.

In addition to being a TOSA myself, in another position I worked with TOSAs on reading, science, and other PD projects. I think for all of us it was an eye-opening, career-changing experience that was a chance to develop as teacher-leaders, enhance our own classroom teaching, and provide an opportunity to share with and learn from other teachers—the ultimate in professional development.

From your letter, it sounds like you have a lot of STEM experiences to build on and share. Good luck!


Photo:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/benwerd/329570851/

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