Seizing Opportunity at the Top II

PublicImpact_CMYK-gray-trans_webWhat students want: great teachers every year

What teachers want: career advancement while teaching, collaboration, on-the-job development and leadership, sustainably funded pay increases, and the chance to help more students succeed

What both need: Policies to make a statewide Opportunity Culture possible

Public Impact shows states the essential policies to reach far more students with gap-closing, bar-raising excellent teaching and to provide well-paid, sustainable career advancement opportunities for educators. They call this the Opportunity Culture. Policies are divided into ones that are urgent for successful pilot schools in a state and optimal for a successful scale-up throughout a state.

Public Impact first released policy recommendations in Seizing Opportunity at the Top in 2011. To update these recommendations, they and their implementation partners have worked with districts in four states that are designing and implementing Opportunity Cultures. Public Impact has seen up close the impact state policies make, even in small pilot programs. Some policies limit the ability of districts to reach more students with excellent teachers and their teams, to increase pay in a sustainable way, and to increase   planning and collaboration time.

When states make urgently needed policy changes, then optimize their policies for a statewide scale-up of an Opportunity Culture, schools can reach the majority of students with excellent teaching, and states can spend less on administration and more on great teaching. With that, far more students can experience the consistently excellent teaching needed to close achievement gaps and leap ahead to advanced work.

The needed policies fall into five categories:

  • Identifying and Developing Teaching Excellence
  • Allowing Flexibility to Staff Schools
  • Allowing Flexibility for Instructional Delivery
  • Setting Accountability Measures and Providing Feedback for Results
  • Rewarding and Retaining Excellent Teachers

For example, many states need policy changes to ensure that:

  • Districts can spend their full allocations of state funding on higher teacher pay, and technology as needed, to support advanced roles for teachers
  • Evaluations recognize team teaching and team leadership by matching the formal accountability for students to the actual role and responsibilities of each teacher
  • Teachers may use paraprofessional support to supervise student skill practice, so that teaching teams have time to reach more students and to collaborate on instructional planning and improvement during school hours

In just the first year of pilot Opportunity Culture schools, Public Impact and its partners have worked with district and school administrators and hundreds of teachers committed to reaching all students with teaching excellence. For the sake of all their students, states should respect and encourage these teachers’ commitments by creating the policies to back them up.

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