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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
Listen to voices from Opportunity Culture educators: Opportunity Culture Voices on Video
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

Ashley Park PreK-8 Case Study

This case study addresses why Ashley Park chose to implement an Opportunity Culture using Multi-Classroom Leadership and blended learning through a Time-Technology Swap, and how the early days of implementation helped the school retain its best teachers.

Ranson IB Middle School Case Study

This case study looks at the early days of Ranson’s implementation of two Opportunity Culture job models—Multi-Classroom Leadership and Time-Technology Swaps—and how an Opportunity Culture improved its recruitment and retention of great teachers.

An Opportunity Culture for Teaching and Learning

Introduction [pdf]
To understand an Opportunity Culture, start here: For excellent teachers and those aspiring to excellence, and for administrative or education policy leaders, this brief provides an overview of how an Opportunity Culture can help teachers have the well-paid, empowered profession they deserve—while helping many more students succeed.

Recruiting in an Opportunity Culture

Lessons Learned
Vignette [pdf] | Video

What brings excellent teachers in droves to apply for jobs in hard-to-staff schools? Project L.I.F.T. in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District started by offering a complete Opportunity Culture package of career advancement roles, then advertised those roles early, often, and clearly—leading to a strong uptick in both the quantity and quality of applicants for teaching roles at schools that previously saw many positions go unfilled. L.I.F.T. leaders explain how they did it in this brief vignette.

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.

More Publications

Opportunity Culture News & Views

In the News: Charlotte Multi-Classroom Leaders Explain Jobs

Learn about an Opportunity Culture from some of the people who know it--and love it--best: Ranson IB Middle School multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) Bobby Miles and April Drakeford, along with Principal … [Read More...]

In the News: Charlotte’s Opportunity Culture

New Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CMS) Superintendent Ann Clark highlighted the district's Opportunity Culture career paths in her "State of our Schools" speech Thursday, the Charlotte Observer … [Read More...]

How 2 High-Poverty Schools Planned an Opportunity Culture Overhaul

High-need schools. Lagging student performance. Teacher churn. “We’ve tried everything.” For many school principals, this may sound unpleasantly familiar. At two Charlotte schools, though, the … [Read More...]

Recruit Great Teachers with Great Opportunities, 4 Key Steps

What brings excellent teachers in droves to apply for jobs in hard-to-staff schools? Project L.I.F.T. in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District started by offering a complete Opportunity Culture … [Read More...]

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...]

More News & Views Items...

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