To transform America’s public education system, it’s all-hands-on-deck time. Our students and teachers need changes at every level to make America’s schools places of opportunity for all. What role could the federal government play in that transformation?
We think the federal government must focus states and districts on giving every student access to excellent teachers and transforming the teaching profession into a high-impact, highly paid profession.
Excellent teachers—those in the top 20 to 25 percent—are the ones who produce the strong learning growth students need to catch up and pursue advanced work. These teachers, on average, help students make a year and a half worth of learning growth annually. Without excellent teachers consistently, students who start out behind rarely catch up, and students who meet today’s grade-level targets rarely leap ahead to meet rising global standards.
Giving all students access to excellent teachers, and the teams that they lead, could also transform teaching, as we’ve begun to show through our Opportunity Culture pilot schools. The new school models in these schools allow sustainably funded higher pay for all, leadership roles that let great teachers lead teams, time for on-the-job collaboration and development, and enhanced authority and credit when helping more students. Early Opportunity Culture implementers have attracted large numbers of applicants for these new jobs, even in high-poverty schools.