Results-Oriented Job Descriptions

The words should reflect the responsibilities – and the results.

That message resonated strongly during a recent series of regional workshops for MTA education support professionals on "results-oriented job descriptions," or ROJDs. More than 125 ESPs from throughout Massachusetts attended the sessions, which were held in Braintree, Lynnfield, Holyoke and Auburn in March 2006.

Kathy Meltsakos, an ESP from Pentucket who attended the Lynnfield workshop, called the session "very organized" and "well put together." The process outlined, she noted, "really defines what steps need to be taken in order to get accurate job descriptions for ESPs."

Meltsakos recommended similar training for "any local that does not have accurately defined job descriptions."

Currently, job descriptions for too many ESPs are inaccurate, dictated without employee involvement or, in some cases, nonexistent.

The MTA is working with the NEA to help local associations establish job descriptions that build the connection between ESPs' work and the missions of their schools and colleges. The workshops were presented by Rafael Rivera and Lisa Connor, NEA organizational specialists.

Sylvia Snape, an MTA board member and member of the University Staff Association at UMass-Amherst, said that the training gave members "the tools to create job descriptions tailored for what we actually do as education support professionals."

ROJDs represent a new way of looking at responsibilities, tasks, skills and human relations. An ROJD identifies not only the duties and tasks required in a given job, but also how those responsibilities improve student achievement. By focusing job descriptions on the results of the work, the community can better understand and appreciate the valuable role ESPs play.

Kathy Dunham, unit president of the Easthampton Education Association, said that workshops such as the ones on ROJDs help create a common sense of purpose.

"We all need to know we are not alone and many of us have the same difficulties," she said, calling the training "interesting, informative and motivating."

Patty Coleman, an ESP in Chicopee and a member of the MTA ESP Committee, said that the three-hour workshop she attended in Holyoke "gave a very detailed explanation of what a results-oriented job description is all about and what it is not about – and indicated that it is not a panacea for every issue in the local, not a bargaining or negotiating tool, not a reclassification and not a process to raise salaries."

An ROJD does more than describe what a person does (the tasks); it also describes what a person accomplishes (the results).

"By promoting the use of results-oriented job descriptions to describe the accomplishments of ESPs, the association can highlight the importance of ESP members' roles in building quality public education," noted Donna Johnson, chair of the ESP Committee and a member of the MTA Executive Committee. "We were really pleased that the workshops drew such large crowds and proved so successful."

In addition to conducting hands-on workshops such as those offered in Massachusetts, the NEA has developed a manual on ROJDs, evaluations and professional development. The manual helps local associations provide the link between job descriptions, evaluations and PD.

"We, the Greenfield paras, are in the process of making job descriptions with our school committee," said ESP Committee member Mary Peterson. "The book that we were given will help us go through the process step by step."

Copies of the materials used at the workshops can be obtained by calling ESP Organizer/Consultant Nancy Robbie at 800-542-5504 or e-mailing nrobbie@massteacher.org.