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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
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.
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

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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.

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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.

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An Opportunity Culture for All

Making Teaching a Highly Paid, High-Impact Profession
Download Brief [pdf]

In this brief, Public Impact Co-Directors Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan C. Hassel update their vision of an Opportunity Culture. The brief explains how extending the reach of great teachers can start a virtuous cycle of excellence and higher pay for all teachers.

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Rocketship Education Case Study

Pioneering Charter Network Innovates Again, Bringing Tech Closer to Teachers
Case Study [pdf]

This case study details how Rocketship, a pioneering, rapidly expanding charter school network, planned to refine its blended-learning model in the 2013–14 year.

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Touchstone Education Case Study

New Charter With Experienced Leader Learns From Extending Teachers’ Reach
Case Study [pdf]

This is one in a series of case studies looking at how districts, charter schools, and other programs have begun using Opportunity Culture models or experimented with similar means of expanding teachers’ impact on students and peer teachers.

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Charlotte, N.C.’s Project L.I.F.T.

New Teaching Roles Create Culture of Excellence in High-Need Schools
Case Study [pdf]  | Q&A [pdf]

Public Impact’s second Opportunity Culture case study explains the “truly different” things that Project L.I.F.T. did to redesign four schools using Opportunity Culture models and principles.


Seizing Opportunity at the Top

How the U.S. Can Reach Every Student with an Excellent Teacher
Full Report [pdf] | Policy Brief [pdf] | Presentation [pdf] | Checklist [pdf]

American children deserve the one ingredient we know creates stellar learning results: excellent teachers, consistently.

More Publications

Opportunity Culture News & Views

In the News: Multi-Classroom Leadership

The Opportunity Culture website is chock-full of materials to explain how our school models--such as Multi-Classroom Leadership and Time-Technology Swap--work. You can read the detailed models … [Read More...]

Syracuse, N.Y., Schools Join Opportunity Culture Initiative

Four of the highest-need schools in the Syracuse City School District, New York’s fifth-largest district, are using teacher-led teams to design new staffing models for their struggling schools to … [Read More...]

“The Teacher is the Cornerstone”

"The teacher is the cornerstone of all this work."--Denise Watts, zone superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Take a peek into Project L.I.F.T.'s Opportunity Culture work in this video from … [Read More...]

Listen to the Teachers!

As teachers and leaders pull Opportunity Culture models into five states in 2014 (watch for announcements, coming soon!), what teachers think about their experiences matters enormously. Listen to … [Read More...]

Watch: How to Get Great Teaching to More Students

How can more students have access to excellent teachers? Increasing class sizes is one way, but we have many other options, Public Impact's co-director, Bryan C. Hassel, said at Thursday's "Expanding … [Read More...]

More News & Views Items...

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