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.
In schools, nothing matters more than the quality of the teachers and leaders. When students have great teachers, they learn dramatically more than they do with less-effective instructors. When schools have great leaders, their students excel, even when they start behind. Yet too often, policies and management practices in K-12 education stand in the way of great teaching and leadership. Our work in this area focuses on policies and approaches to recruiting, selecting, evaluating, developing, compensating, and retaining high-performing teachers and leaders.
Thousands of schools nationwide are failing to educate enough of their students effectively and are missing state and federal performance benchmarks. Many of these schools have failed to provide students with even a basic education for years. To respond to this challenge, education leaders need better tools to turn their schools around. “Turnarounds” are widely used in other sectors to fix failing organizations. Public Impact has surveyed this cross-sector experience to generate resources that help schools, districts, and others implement successful turnarounds.
Charter schools are tuition-free, independently run public schools that operate free from many regulations imposed on district schools. In exchange, charter schools are held accountable for results. If executed well, the charter school sector has enormous potential as illustrated by the growing number of charter schools achieving phenomenal results with disadvantaged students. If executed poorly, chartering can reproduce the same patterns of mediocrity and failure rampant in public education. Public Impact has deep experience informing charter policy, strengthening charter authorizing, and devising strategies to help the sector succeed.