To help school districts in Texas attract the skills they need to deliver high-quality learning experiences, Region 10 wanted a cost-effective way to enable them to hand-pick top job applicants.
Region 10 enhanced its Teacher Job Network with IBM® Kenexa® Employee Assessments—enabling it to test and score applicants based on eight key traits, such as dependability and motivation.
Enablesschool districts to identify and hire top-performing applicants
Helpsclose skill gaps and ensure high-quality coverage across the curriculum
27%boost in school districts using Region 10’s services drives business growth
Business challenge story
Helping school districts attract top talent
Passionate, engaging teaching can inspire kids to turn a subject they studied at school into a lifelong career. For Region 10 Education Service Center—a state-mandated organization based in Richardson, Texas—the aim is to equip school districts with the resources they need to deliver outstanding education experiences.
Sandy Roberts, Teacher Job Network Application Manager, Region 10 Education Service Center, explains: “We primarily serve school districts, charter schools and many private schools across our region. For these clients, cyclical external factors such as economic downturns and skills shortages mean that hiring teaching staff is often top of the agenda, particularly for specialist areas such as English as a Second Language [ESL], special education, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM]. However, because these districts typically have limited resources, recruiting can be a tough challenge.”
He continues: “To help our clients find the skilled personnel they need, we offer an online service called the Teacher Job Network. Through a web portal, applicants from across the state and beyond can upload their qualifications. School districts who sign up for the service can then search our database to find applicants with the skills they need.”
For many years, Region 10 has recognized the value of employee assessments to help school districts identify top-performing job applicants.
“In the past, we relied on an out-of-the-box assessment platform for the Teacher Job Network,” continues Roberts. “The difficulty with this approach was the cost of the assessment platform was relatively high, which meant it was out of reach for many of our clients. We were also unable to customize our assessment questions, which we felt limited the accuracy of the assessment scores. To enhance our assessment service and extend its benefits to more of our clients, we looked for a cost-effective, tailored solution.”
Deploying a cost-effective assessment solution
Region 10 selected IBM Kenexa Employee Assessments—enabling it to use analytics-driven techniques to measure the traits, skills and cultural fit of candidates on its Teacher Job Network, and predict their job performance.
“In addition to the cost-effectiveness of the IBM Kenexa Employee Assessments pricing model, one of the things that impressed us most about the IBM solution was how easy it was to adapt it to our unique requirements,” Roberts recalls. “IBM even took the time to reach out to our clients and ask them what kind of information would help them to identify the highest-performing applicants—something our previous provider never offered.”
Working together with a team from IBM, Region 10 developed an assessment framework that would be within the financial reach of even the smallest school districts.
“Our collaboration with IBM and the districts helped us to identify around 200 identifiable factors, which we narrowed down to the eight traits that were the strongest predictors of performance,” continues Roberts. “These traits include motivation, willingness to learn, ability to multitask, optimism and situational judgement skills. By aggregating applicant scores across these eight traits, we can categorize certified personnel in our talent database as A, B and C performers—offering clients deeper insight into candidates.”
Today, each certified applicant who signs up for Teacher Job Network takes a short online test, powered by IBM Kenexa Employee Assessments.
“One of the great aspects about the IBM Kenexa solution is the fact that there’s never one right answer to an assessment question,” comments Roberts. “Each multiple-choice question has four possible answers, which enables us to gain a good understanding of a candidate’s personality—for example, whether someone is flexible in their decision-making, responds well to criticism, and can exercise good judgement.”
He adds: “Working with IBM was a great experience, and overall the process went very smoothly. Every time we needed support or we had a question, we knew that our IBM team was only a phone call or an email away--and we really appreciated their commitment to building a solution that met our unique needs. We still periodically engage with IBM to re-norm our assessment scores, and our experience continues to be extremely positive.”
Better-informed decisions, higher-quality teaching
With IBM Kenexa Employee Assessments delivering deep insights into candidates on its Teacher Job Network, Region 10 is achieving its goal of helping smaller districts onboard the skills they need to deliver high-quality teaching year after year.
“Since we went live with IBM Kenexa Employee Assessments, we’ve seen a surge of interest in our assessment services across the board,” says Roberts. “Not only have we seen a significant uptick in smaller districts signing up for the service, even larger districts with their own in-house assessment solutions are embracing the platform—which we see as a testament to the added value that IBM Kenexa Employee Assessments is providing.”
He continues: “In fact, we have seen a 27 percent increase in the number of schools using the assessment service, and we believe much of that growth has come from word of mouth. Without a doubt, our IBM solution has become a major selling point for the Teacher Job Network, and more schools than ever are keen to sign up.”
By utilizing assessment questions that are tailored to the unique requirements and norms of its school districts, Region 10 is enhancing the accuracy of its talent scores.
“We are seeing that our assessment scores are extremely reliable predictors of employee performance,” explains Roberts. “Sometimes, schools take the decision to hire a candidate that IBM Kenexa predicted would perform poorly in a certain area. When we compared the scores of teachers whose contracts were not renewed with the traits they scored poorly on, we saw a clear correlation between the low scores and reasons for not having their contracts renewed. For example, if a teacher scored low on dependability, they were more likely to not have their contract renewed because of issues with their punctuality.”
Based on the success of its IBM Kenexa solution, Region 10 is already planning ways to enhance the platform.
“We recently added principal assessments to our Teacher Job Network—enabling districts to find an even wider range of talent for their schools,” says Roberts. “Looking ahead, we are very interested in rolling out assessments for classified employees: people such as classroom aides, custodians and maintenance personnel who work in schools, but aren’t certified teachers.”
He concludes: “For smaller school districts, identifying and recruiting top talent can be a tough challenge. Thanks to our IBM talent assessment solution, we are providing school districts with the insight they need to make better-informed hiring decisions—contributing to high-quality learning experiences across the region.”
Based in Richardson, Texas, Region 10 Education Service Center is one of 20 regional service centers established by the Texas State Legislature in 1967. The organization has a mandate to support schools across eight north Texas counties and portions of two others, and its services impact more than 810,000 students and 99,000 staff members on 1,220 campuses.
Take the next step
To learn more about IBM Kenexa Employee Assessments solutions, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/marketplace/employee-assessments