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Opportunity Culture Principles

Teams of teachers and school leaders must choose and tailor models to:

  1. Reach more students with excellent teachers and their teams
  2. Pay teachers more for extending their reach
  3. Fund pay within regular budgets
  4. Provide protected in-school time and clarity about how to use it for planning, collaboration, and development
  5. Match authority and accountability to each person’s responsibilities
Read our vision for an Opportunity Culture: An Opportunity Culture for All
The U.S. spends more per capita on K–12 education than almost every other country on Earth. Education spending per pupil has increased about 150 percent in real terms over 40+ years. Yet teacher pay per hour has stayed flat. Sustainably funded career advancement and rigorous, on-the-job learning for teachers are rare.
Meanwhile, achievement gaps persist, and our students learn less than those in nations valuing excellence in teaching and learning. The shortfall in subjects with abundant employment, like STEM, damages our nation’s economy, too.
We’ve squandered teachers’ time and talent, education spending, and students’ potential for decades.
What if all students could have excellent teachers in charge of their learning, consistently?

Only 25 percent of classes today are taught by excellent teachers. 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 honors work, and performing like top international peers. Excellent teachers also excel in developing students’ higher-order thinking. Average teachers work hard, but in today’s one-teacher-one-classroom mode, they do not achieve superior outcomes. What if, instead, excellent teachers could reach all students and lead peer teams toward excellence?

What if all teachers had time to collaborate and learn on the job from outstanding peers?

Today, most teachers work alone, without needed support. What if teachers had more time at school to really collaborate—co-plan, co-teach, and co-learn—and great teachers could help everyone improve? What if solid teachers could make the leap to excellence with their peers’ help?

What if teachers could advance in their careers without leaving the classroom?

Too many great teachers enter administrative jobs or leave the profession to advance in their careers. What if, instead, great teachers could continue to teach and lead other teachers, for more pay? What if good, solid teachers could advance and earn more, too, by working on teams led by outstanding peers?

And what if all teachers earned far more—for whole careers, not just with temporary grants?

Teachers teach to change lives. They revel in helping students achieve their potential. But many teachers also long for better rewards and more respect. What if schools made it happen? What if schools reallocated existing education spending, and new spending, to pay teachers far more?

Opportunity Culture schools are already turning this vision into reality.

In an Opportunity Culture, schools use job redesign and technology to extend the reach of excellent teachers and the teams they lead, for more pay, within budget, without forcing class-size increases.

Teachers are leading the way on school design teams creating Opportunity Culture schools across the country. Pilot districts have been flooded with applications, even in hard-to-staff schools.

On this website, you’ll find all the free tools that you need to transform your schools, too.

  • An Opportunity Culture for All: The latest on our vision for an Opportunity Culture—making teaching a highly paid, high-impact profession.
  • Redesigning Schools: More than 20 school models showing how to extend the reach of excellent teachers to more students, within budget.
  • Teacher Career Paths: Multiple career paths that schools can use that respect teachers’ time and talents, and help every teacher pursue excellence.
  • Use our free resources: This page’s links provide a map to all the Public Impact tools that districts and school design teams need to understand and imagine an Opportunity Culture, tailor our models to extend the reach of their excellent teachers, and communicate and implement the changes.

Featured Publications

Metropolitan Nashville’s Innovation Zone Case Study

High-Need Schools Help Teacher-Leaders With Paid, Yearlong Student Teachers
Case Study [pdf]

Better-prepared new teachers, more adults in every classroom, more small-group instruction, more adults caring for every student—how can a school wrap all that up in one package? Three Metropolitan Nashville Opportunity Culture schools are trying a novel approach with paid, yearlong student teaching positions. In this case study, Public Impact examines this “aspiring teachers” program and its early implementation.

Reaching All Students with Excellent STEM Teachers

Education Leaders’ Brief
Brief [pdf]Slide Deck [pdf]

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.

Teacher Pay and Career Paths in an Opportunity Culture

A Practical Policy Guide
Full Guide [pdf]Summary [pdf]

To help all students reach their potential, district leaders must ensure that every student has consistent access to excellent teaching. Opportunity Culture compensation and career path structures help make that possible, and this guide shows how.

Seizing Opportunity at the Top II

State Policies to Reach Every Student With Excellent Teachers
Brief [pdf] | Checklist [pdf]

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?

Projected Statewide Impact of “Opportunity Culture” School Models

Download Policy Brief [pdf]

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.

Giving Every Student Access to Excellent Teachers

A Vision for Focusing Federal Investments in Education
Full Report [pdf]

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.

A New Civil Right

Reaching All Students with Excellent Teaching

District administrators can use these materials as an exercise in rethinking the standard school set-up, and professors in business, public policy, or education schools, or teacher or leader preparation programs, can use these with their classes.

More Publications

Opportunity Culture News & Views

Nashville Student Teachers Earn, Learn, Support Teacher-Leaders

Better-prepared new teachers, more adults in every classroom, more small-group instruction, more adults caring for every student—how can a school wrap all that up in one package? Three Metropolitan … [Read More...]

Opportunity Culture Principals: “People Want to Be a Part of This”

Now, it's the principals' turn: We've shared videos of multi-classroom leaders and team teachers telling why they love their jobs in the Metro Nashville schools that have created an Opportunity … [Read More...]

Team Teachers Tell All! Why Opportunity Culture Teams Work

Before Thanksgiving, we shared this video of Metro Nashville multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) telling why they love what they do; now, hear their team teachers share why they love working on MCL teams … [Read More...]

Giving thanks for Opportunity Culture Multi-Classroom Leaders

Need more to be thankful for this year? Add these committed, enthusiastic, deeply determined teacher-leaders to your list! I recently interviewed multi-classroom leaders in in three Metro Nashville … [Read More...]

How the STEM Teacher Shortage Fails Kids–and How to Fix It

In the U.S., STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) get a lot of press lately. But it’s still hard for leaders to connect the dots: Too few skilled STEM teachers lead to too few … [Read More...]

More News & Views Items...

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