Brief explains how states and districts can help excellent teachers extend their reach to far more students.
“I glance at my computer clock; it is already time for the next block and I forgot to eat lunch. When a Frenchman forgets about eating, this is a sign that he loves what he does.”
So says Romain Bertrand, the first multi-classroom leader (MCL) at Ranson IB Middle School in Charlotte, N.C., today in “Expand Your Reach: New-world role combines coaching teachers and teaching students” on Education Next. Walking readers through a piece of a typical day, Bertrand explains how he leads two pods of three teachers and one learning coach (or teaching assistant) each–and is responsible for the learning outcomes of 800 sixth- and seventh-graders.
In an Opportunity Culture, MCLs earn significantly higher pay; in the Project L.I.F.T. schools within Charlotte-Mecklenburg, that means up to $23,000 more, or 50 percent more than average teacher pay in North Carolina. MCLs get to continue teaching while providing on-the-job professional learning for their teams, planning, coaching, and collaborating with them.
Bertrand loves his job–and he wants the world to know, so other teachers can have similar, highly paid opportunities that let them advance while staying in the classroom, reaching more students with great teaching. For more about him, Multi-Classroom Leadership, and the Opportunity Culture schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, see:
As we’ve noted in previous posts, schools continue to join the Opportunity Culture initiative, eager to work with teachers on redesigning their teaching roles and career paths. As the first year of implementation in Opportunity Culture pilot schools wound down, we looked at the impact of just the 31 leading-edge schools who had joined the initiative by April. (Six more high schools joined in May but are not included in these figures, as they hadn’t yet had a chance to make their Opportunity Culture plans).
What can we project for these 31 schools by the time they implement their models fully, over three years?
* About 15,000 students reached consistently by excellent teachers and their excellence-focused teams each year
* About 450 teachers earning far more in new roles that let teachers focus on what they do best, learn from excellent teacher-leaders, and advance without leaving the classroom**
* Almost $4 million in extra teacher pay annually in just these 31 implementing schools
* About 80,000 new, additional hours total for planning, collaboration, and on-the-job learning during school hours annually—180 more hours per teacher, per year
* About $290,000 to $900,000 in additional lifetime pay, in current dollars, per teacher (this number will be more than $1 million as some schools implement wider-span teacher-leader roles)
* About $130 million total additional pay if all 450 teachers (or others like them) remain in these uniquely financially sustainable career advancement models for 35 years. Within budget.
See more below. And see Projected Statewide Impact of “Opportunity Culture” School Models to see how an Opportunity Culture can affect a state’s economy as well—to the tune of billions of dollars in state domestic product increases.
These are the numbers for just 31 schools. Imagine the numbers when a whole nation has schools in which teachers lead, learn on the job, help more students excel, and get paid for it—forever.
For these CMS teachers, change doesn’t mean exodus: In Friday’s Charlotte Observer, reporter Ann Doss Helms checked back in with Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CMS) teachers who’d been in the news in the past year over their frustrations–reflected across North Carolina classrooms–with teacher pay turmoil in the state. Helms wrote:
After a year of frustration with low pay and challenging conditions, teachers Marie Calabro, Dave Hartzell and Justin Ashley have packed their boxes and left their jobs.
Despite talk of a teacher exodus from North Carolina, though, these three aren’t leaving the state–or even Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Calabro, who organized sidewalk rallies for teachers, and Hartzell, featured in an Observer article on teacher pay, both switched schools to take higher-paying “opportunity culture” jobs that keep them in classrooms. The House and governor’s budget plans call for expanding that approach, which CMS is pioneering.
The article gives a glimpse of Public Impact’s long-term vision for our Opportunity Culture work–that an Opportunity Culture’s sustainably funded, higher-paid teaching and career opportunities will change who enters teaching, who stays, and how much more impact excellent teachers can have in their careers. Allowing great teachers to reach more students can kick-start the virtuous cycle of selectivity, opportunity, and higher pay.
Pilot schools already saw one effect of an Opportunity Culture on the front end of their implementation, as they were flooded with applications for the new positions; CMS now can see the beginnings of another effect, in keeping its great teachers from leaving the state for a higher-paid teaching job.
As Helms wrote about teacher Dave Hartzell:
Calling school models in an Opportunity Culture a simple, harmonious solution, Editorial Page Editor of The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer highlighted the work of Public Impact and Co-Directors Bryan and EmilyAyscue Hassel in his column yesterday.
In Let NC’s top teachers teach—and earn—more, Barnett said:
“With all the angst and alarm over the General Assembly’s approach to K-12 education, hearing Bryan Hassel talk about how to create more effective schools is like listening to a symphony. He has a solution. It’s simple and harmonious and won’t cost more than we should be spending anyway.“
Embracing the Opportunity Culture concept—which extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within regular budgets—Barnett noted:
“The Hassels’ approach would not be cheap at first for North Carolina. They say the state needs to raise its average teacher pay 10 percent or more to reverse the backsliding that has sent the average pay sliding to 48th in the nation. But after that, schools could reallocate funds between extra support staff and great teachers teaching more students without increasing school district budgets.
Compare the teacher response to the Charlotte experiment with the statewide situation in North Carolina. While teacher applications piled up for the Charlotte pilot schools, low pay and low morale statewide are fueling an exodus and a looming teacher shortage.”
As North Carolina grapples with this, the governor has proposed sustainable career pathways that districts and their teachers can design. The Senate proposed large average base pay increases. We at Public Impact hope that now the state House, Senate, and governor can work together to bring both of these to reality, and fund education at a level that lets North Carolina ensure a competitive workforce and robust economy.
As Barnett concluded:
“The General Assembly and the governor are responding by offering a boost in pay. Hassel says that helps, but it’s only paying good and bad teachers more to do the same job. What should happen is more pay for good teachers and a winnowing of low performers.
In addition, Bryan Hassel says, the state should be adding teacher assistants, not cutting them by half as proposed in the state Senate’s budget. The teaching profession is virtually alone, he notes, in asking teachers to work in isolation doing many tasks involving a range of skills. Why have great teachers sidelined to tend to sick or unruly students or to monitor cafeterias and bus lines?
North Carolina is in an educational crisis and if it continues the state will lose many excellent teachers. It’s time to support top teachers by making a substantial change in how they are employed and what they can earn.”
At the Education Writers Association conference in Nashville on Tuesday, I listened to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterate his belief that “education is the civil rights issue of our generation.”
On that, we at Public Impact couldn’t agree more.
He also talked about the outrage over our nation’s achievement gaps and worries about opportunity gaps. The country has, he said, a “courage gap” and an “action gap.”
We’d like to direct his attention to some teachers and leaders showing both courage and action.
In Opportunity Culture pilot schools, teachers are taking action, redesigning their schools to extend the reach of great teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within current budgets. Their leaders are showing courage by finding ways to make these redesigns possible within state rules and tight budgets. Creating Opportunity Culture schools means letting go of traditional one-teacher-one-classroom mindsets—and opening the door to career paths that let great teachers lead while continuing to teach, to opportunities for great teachers to reach more students directly with their inspiring instruction, and to opportunities for all students—not just a lucky few—to get excellent teaching, consistently, from teachers who get the pay and respect they deserve.
Where are those schools? Several were right under Duncan’s nose yesterday—in the iZone in Nashville. Schools in Cabarrus County, N.C., and Syracuse, N.Y., plan to implement their own Opportunity Cultures this fall. And in Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CMS), four schools participated in the pilot this year—to be joined by 17 more this fall, and by nearly half the schools in the district by 2017–18.
The pilot schools’ learning results will start rolling in this summer, with more robust data from more than 30 schools nationwide next year. But CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison saw one significant result already that led to his January decision to scale up from those first four pilots: Enthusiastic teachers, in a state where teacher enthusiasm may be at an all-time low. The pilot schools were swamped last year with applications for these Opportunity Culture jobs, even in high-poverty schools. Despite the hard work of implementing something completely new, teachers’ enthusiasm continues (see what they’re saying here).
What makes an Opportunity Culture different enough to resonate so profoundly with teachers and district leaders?
For several years, we’ve been asking teachers and districts to imagine: Imagine schools and a profession where all teachers can improve their teaching, be rewarded for getting better, and reach more students with excellent instruction—by creating an Opportunity Culture for teachers and students. Districts are responding: As of spring 2014, four districts nationally are piloting Opportunity Culture models, and one, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, is taking its pilot efforts to scale based on recruiting results and demand from schools.
But what if a whole state reimagined the teaching profession and pursued an Opportunity Culture for all? What benefits might accrue for students, teachers and the state as a whole?
Using North Carolina as an example for analysis, Public Impact ran the numbers—and the results weren’t small.
Opportunity Culture models redesign jobs to extend the reach of excellent teachers to more students, for more pay, within budget—typically in collaborative teams on which all teachers can pursue instructional excellence together and are formally accountable for all of the students they serve. They are designed to transform the traditional teaching environment and provide new career paths for teachers that allow them to advance their careers without leaving the classroom.
If three-fourths of North Carolina’s classrooms were to implement Opportunity Culture models over one generation of students—about 16 years of implementation—we projected, using conservative assumptions, that:
- Students on average would gain 3.4 more years’ worth of learning than in a traditional school model in the K–12 years.
- Teachers leading teams would earn up to $848,000 more in a 35-year career, with considerably higher figures possible for large-span teacher-leader roles not included in this analysis.
- Teachers joining teams to extend their reach could earn approximately an additional $240,000 over their careers.
- State income tax revenue would be up to $700 million higher in present-value terms over 16 years of implementation; increased corporate and sales tax revenues are not included.
- State domestic product would increase by $4.6 billion to $7.7 billion in present-value terms over the next 16 years.
And that’s just using current numbers for North Carolina, where pay is near the bottom nationally. Teachers leading teams in states with pay closer to the national average would earn up to $1 million more in a 35-year career. (Public Impact has separately suggested that a 10 percent average base pay increase is also needed for teachers in North Carolina.)
A second North Carolina district has joined its neighbor in implementing an Opportunity Culture: Three elementary schools and seven high schools in Cabarrus County, N.C., will pilot Opportunity Culture models in 2014–15–affecting approximately 1,000 students in the first year of implementation alone.
Public Impact will assist some of the school teams in redesigning their schools. These schools will each have a team of administrators and teachers to choose and adapt the models that fit their school best, following the Opportunity Culture Principles.
The district is beginning work without philanthropic support for the costs of making this transition, but hopes to obtain funding to support additional school-level design teams. Six of the high schools asked to be included after hearing a presentation about Opportunity Culture models from the first high school principal to opt in this spring and Jason Van Heukelum, deputy superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Cabarrus County.
Once schools make the transition to an Opportunity Culture, the higher pay is all funded within existing school budgets, not temporary grants. (See financial analyses of the models here.)
The Cabarrus County district, which includes Concord, N.C., has 39 schools and 30,000 students, 43 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Its schools join neighboring Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) in implementing an Opportunity Culture. Four CMS schools piloted their new models this school year, and CMS announced plans in January to scale up its Opportunity Culture work to include nearly half of the district’s schools by 2017–18.
“We strive to provide all of our students access to excellent teachers, while at the same time we struggle to pay our teachers a competitive salary,” Van Heukelum said. “Opportunity Culture models address both of these areas, and we are excited to partner with Public Impact in this work.”
Design teams from the Cabarrus schools visited Ashley Park Elementary and Ranson IB Middle, two of the CMS schools implementing an Opportunity Culture this year. Design teams at the elementary schools are considering using some combination of Multi-Classroom Leadership, Time Swaps, and Elementary Subject Specialization.
“Cabarrus County first contemplated creating an Opportunity Culture when it applied for the Race to the Top district competition,” said Bryan C. Hassel, Public Impact’s co-director. “The district was one of 35 finalists across the country, but didn’t win. Regardless, the district’s leaders saw the benefits for its students and teachers and forged ahead, with enthusiasm from both participating principals and teachers.”
Do you know teachers eager for a job full of opportunities to reach more students on empowered, teacher-led teams, and to earn more–potentially a lot more? Watch short videos about Project L.I.F.T.’s implementation of Opportunity Culture school models here and here. Project L.I.F.T. is hiring now for the 2014-15 school year.
Charlotte’s Project L.I.F.T. zone of high-need schools was the nation’s first pilot of Opportunity Culture school models that extend the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within budget.
Teachers get on-the-job development led by outstanding peers who are responsible for their teams’ improvement and student outcomes. L.I.F.T is also reaching out to Teach for America alumni who want to stay in the classroom and advance their careers while continuing to teach. TFA has been a critical source of teaching staff in these traditionally hard-to-staff schools.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is scaling up its Opportunity Culture schools as part of its Student Success by Design initiative. Nearly half of the district’s schools are expected to adopt these models by 2017–18. Each school has its own design team of teachers and administrators who work within the five Opportunity Culture Principles to select and combine models and determine implementation details that reflect the goals, values, and needs of each school. The overarching goals: 1) reach far more students with excellent teaching, every year, and 2) provide their teachers with outstanding, sustainably funded career advancement and development opportunities.
The district’s schools outside the L.I.F.T. zone will soon be recruiting for similar positions.
How can your district or organization help schools build an Opportunity Culture? Look throughout OpportunityCulture.org for information and free tools.
Don’t forget to check out L.I.F.T.’s videos to see how teachers, administrators, and kids feel about it.
By Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan Hassel; first published in The News & Observer. North Carolina will never make the educational strides it needs until the best educators have far greater impact, for a lot more pay. A year ago in these pages, we called for state leaders to raise teachers’ base pay an average […]
The Opportunity Culture website is chock-full of materials to explain how our school models–such as Multi-Classroom Leadership and Time-Technology Swap–work. You can read the detailed models themselves, financial details about the models, broader overviews such as An Opportunity Culture for All or materials specifically for teachers–or you can just work your way through everything listed on the Tools for School Design Teams page to get the whole Opportunity Culture shebang.
And our case studies show how schools are just beginning to implement this work. We’ll have many more coming that get into the nitty-gritty as schools gain some experience with their new models, which design teams of teachers and administrators adapt to fit each school’s needs.
Meanwhile, though, Christina Quattrocchi at EdSurge fills in one piece of that nitty-gritty this week, in How to Teach 800 Middle Schoolers. She walks readers through the workweek of Romain Bertrand, a multi-classroom leader at Ranson middle school in Charlotte who incorporates blended learning into his math team, to help understand how Bertrand extends his reach to many, many more students than the one-teacher-one-classroom mode.
You can also read one of Bertrand’s blog posts on EdSurge, Reaching 800 Students with a Stylus and an iPad, to hear his thoughts on how thoughtful use of tech tools in the classroom can make a difference in many ways. Check out his entire blog to learn more about first-year implementation joys and challenges in his team.
Four of the highest-need schools in the Syracuse City School District, New York’s fifth-largest district, are using teacher-led teams to design new staffing models for their struggling schools to use in fall 2014. These school models extend the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within budget.
The schools join the national Opportunity Culture initiative, which includes schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Metro Nashville, and additional districts to be announced soon. School design teams will adapt and implement Opportunity Culture models, created by Public Impact, that use job redesign and age- and child-appropriate technology to reach more students with excellence. Education First, which has extensive experience facilitating collaborative change in district schools, is assisting the schools in making the transition to the new models.
Syracuse wants to become the most improved urban district in America. More than three-quarters of Syracuse students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, in a city where more than 44 percent of children under 18 live in poverty. System leaders know great teachers are the key to changing the odds for these students, and paying them more and letting them lead while teaching is essential to attract and keep them in Syracuse.