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With an excellent teacher versus an average teacher, students make about an extra half-year of progress every year—closing achievement gaps fast, leaping ahead to become honors students, and surging forward like top international peers. But existing strategies alone will never fill our 3 million classrooms with teachers as good as today’s top 25 percent.
Schools can fix this by extending the reach of excellent teachers using job redesign and technology. New school models also offer all teachers career opportunities. Advancement allows greater impact on students and more pay—within budget. We call this an Opportunity Culture. Click here for tools and resources to reach all students with excellence.
To understand an Opportunity Culture, start here: For excellent teachers and those aspiring to excellence, and for administrative or education policy leaders, this brief provides an overview of how an Opportunity Culture can help teachers have the well-paid, empowered profession they deserve—while helping many more students succeed.
What brings excellent teachers in droves to apply for jobs in hard-to-staff schools? Project L.I.F.T. in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District started by offering a complete Opportunity Culture package of career advancement roles, then advertised those roles early, often, and clearly—leading to a strong uptick in both the quantity and quality of applicants for teaching roles at schools that previously saw many positions go unfilled. L.I.F.T. leaders explain how they did it in this brief vignette, with an accompanying video of principals and district leaders sharing how an Opportunity Culture attracts great teachers.
In the U.S., STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—face urgent needs for great STEM teachers and well-educated students. An Opportunity Culture can help by extending the reach of excellent STEM teachers already in our schools and creating a teaching profession that attracts and retains these teachers through higher pay, within regular budgets, and multiple advancement opportunities. The Education Leaders’ Brief summarizes the grim facts about STEM employment and learning in the U.S. today, emerging efforts to stem the shortage of skilled teachers, and how an Opportunity Culture can help. The companion slide deck provides more statistics and graphics to explain the huge need for more and better STEM teachers; how to attract and retain great STEM teachers; and how to extend the reach of the excellent STEM teachers we already have, paying them much more within regular budgets, and giving them opportunities to lead and develop peers on the job.
This guide shows how districts can design teacher career paths that will keep excellent teachers in the classroom and extend their reach to more students, for more pay, within budget. When districts design these paths, they create opportunities for excellent teachers to reach more students directly and by leading teaching teams, for solid teachers to contribute to excellence immediately, and for all teachers to receive the support and development they deserve. The full guide walks a district through the organizing steps and details of designing Opportunity Culture pay and career paths that fit its needs and values. It includes an overview of key Opportunity Culture concepts, graphics and explanations detailing new school models and roles, and assistance for evaluating the impact of different compensation design choices. The steps guide districts to ensuring financial sustainability and designing a complete career lattice. The summary provides a brief overview and graphics that show how pay and career paths work at a glance.
To ensure that every student has access to excellent teaching consistently, states and districts must help excellent teachers extend their reach to far more students, directly and by leading teaching teams, and earn far more, within budget. How can states craft the policies to support this? Public Impact explains how in this checklist and brief. These update our earlier working paper Seizing Opportunity at the Top, based on our experience collaborating with several districts and hundreds of teachers and administrators, and analysis of their states’ policies. States must get these policies right for the sake of the outstanding and committed teachers in schools implementing Opportunity Culture models—and their students. Read more…
In this report for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Public Impact takes an in-depth look at principal hiring practices in five urban districts. Despite making improvements, our primary finding is that principal hiring practices continue to fall short of what is needed, effectively causing needy schools to lose out on leaders with the potential to be great. So what to do? Districts must improve their hiring practices to take a more active approach to principal recruitment, evaluate candidates against the competencies and skills that successful principals are known to possess, carefully design a placement process that matches schools’ needs with candidates’ strengths, and continually evaluate hiring efforts to ensure that they are effectively recruiting, selecting, and placing the leaders that schools depend on for success. Our research also suggests that better hiring practices alone are only part of the solution; districts must also re-imagine the principal’s role so that it is a job that talented leaders want and are equipped to execute successfully. See the companion infographic for a quick summary.
This brief estimates the impact of a statewide implementation of Opportunity Culture models, using North Carolina as an example. Impacts estimated include student learning outcomes, gross state product, teacher pay, and other career characteristics, and state income tax revenue. Estimates indicate the potential for a statewide transition to Opportunity Culture models to provide a brighter future for students, teachers, and the state’s economy.
Giving Every Student Access to Excellent Teachers: A Vision for Focusing Federal Investments in Education
In a new brief written for the Center for American Progress, Public Impact explains why and how the federal government must focus states and districts on giving every student access to excellent teachers. Public Impact suggests four ways the federal government can dramatically increase access to excellent teaching and catalyze a transformation of America’s public education system: 1.) Structure competitive grants to induce districts and states to shift to transformative school designs that reach more students with excellent teachers and the teams they lead; 2.) Reorient existing formula grants to encourage transition to new classroom models that extend the reach of great teachers, both directly and through leading teaching teams; 3.) Create a focal point for federal research and development efforts; 4.) Create and enforce a new civil right to excellent teachers. Read the press release to learn more, or watch the panel discussion from the presentation of the report.
Blended learning that combines digital instruction with live, accountable teachers holds unique promise to improve student outcomes dramatically. This brief explains how schools can use blended learning to encourage improvements in digital instruction, transform teaching into a highly paid, opportunity-rich career that extends the reach of excellent teachers to all students and teaching peers, and improve student learning at large scale. We call this a “better blend”: combining high-quality digital learning and excellent teaching.
An Opportunity Culture for Teaching and Learning: Moving Toward a Highly Paid, High-Impact Profession
This two-page report speaks directly to excellent teachers and those aspiring to excellence to introduce the concepts of an Opportunity Culture and its benefits for teachers and staff, explaining why they should advocate for new school models and policies that support an Opportunity Culture. A related slide presentation for school and district leaders, with speaker notes or without, helps them explain what teaching and learning could look like in an Opportunity Culture.
Why does every child need consistent access to excellent teachers, and how can we, today, extend the reach of the excellent teachers our nation already has? Public Impact teamed up with designers at Column Five to develop this infographic with the answers. It illustrates four of the more than 20 “reach extension” models that use job redesign and technology to put excellent teachers in charge of every student’s learning. It also highlights the role of extending these teachers’ reach in building an “Opportunity Culture” in which excellent teachers, other educators, and students can excel. See the full infographic here.
Opportunity at the Top: How America’s Best Teachers Could Close the Gaps, Raise the Bar, and Keep Our Nation Great
Even if current reform efforts to recruit more great teachers and dismiss low performers were wildly successful, nearly two-thirds of children still would not have great teachers. But if we add high-performer retention and reach extension, 87 percent of classes could be taught by gap-closing, bar-raising teachers—in a mere half decade. This outcome is within our reach—but only if we vastly expand the opportunities for top teachers. Read more…
Teachers: If you are an excellent teacher or one who aspires to excellence, this two-page report explains how schools can use redesigned jobs and career paths to help you stay enthusiastic about teaching, reach more students, and lead your peers, for more pay. With input from teachers and other experts, Public Impact has published numerous school models that offer different possibilities for time use and role flexibility, making the best use of great teachers’ valuable time and returning the respect you deserve by paying more for reaching more students with excellence.
Instead of just trying to recruit more great teachers, what if we could reach dramatically more children with the great teachers we already have? This report explores ways we could redesign teachers’ roles and use technology to give millions more students access to the best teachers. Read more…
In Fordham’s new book Education Reform for the Digital Era, Bryan C. Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel’s opening chapter proposes that “digital education needs excellent teachers and that a first-rate teaching profession needs digital education.” In the digital future, teacher effectiveness will matter even more than it does today. While the roles of teachers and other adults will change dramatically, what will increasingly differentiate outcomes for schools, states, and nations is how well responsible adults carry out the more complex instructional tasks. At the same time, technology has enormous transformative potential to extend the reach of excellent teachers to vastly more students, to help teaching attract and retain the best, and to boost the effectiveness of average teachers. To realize that promise, though, the nation needs new staffing models, significant policy changes, and a stronger dose of political will to change. Read the chapter here, and watch Bryan Hassel on a webcast of the release event here. The authors also penned a related commentary that appears here.
In this blog post for the Innosight Institute (now the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation), Bryan Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel argue that “schools – and nations – that excel in the digital age will be those that use digital tools both to make teaching more manageable for the average teacher, and to give massively more students access to excellent teachers.” While digital learning can help solid teachers become more effective, one of its greatest promises is to enable top teachers – those whose students already achieve well over a year’s worth of growth – to educate more students by freeing up their time, allowing them to teach students who are not physically present, and capturing their teaching prowess by recording videos or helping develop smart learning software.
Public Impact has posted brief descriptions of more than 20 school models that put excellent teachers in charge of more children’s learning. The models describe how schools can adjust teaching roles and use technology to reach every child with excellent teachers—the 20 to 25 percent who make well over a year of progress each year on average with their students. Public Impact will add examples and detail, including job descriptions, evaluation rubrics and financial considerations. All will be available for free on OpportunityCulture.org. Models were made possible by Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, and the Colorado Legacy Foundation.
A recent national push to use performance evaluations for critical personnel decisions has highlighted the shortcomings of our current systems and increased the urgency to improve them dramatically. This report, written with support from the Joyce Foundation, summarizes best practices and research from other sectors into six steps for education leaders who want accurate, reliable, and meaningful information about educators’ performance. Read more…
This report, written with support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, identifies four common strategies employed by other sectors to disproportionately retain high performers and discusses how committed education leaders could begin applying these strategies right now. Read more…
The complete recipe for Singapore’s educational success is not public, but one element stands out: the development and thorough use of performance-linked “competencies” to measure, reward, and develop teacher performance. This report, written with support from The Joyce Foundation, explores Singapore’s successful teacher evaluation and development system—recognized by its education leadership and teachers as effective and fair. Read more…