Tailoring Models to Fit Your School

The school models described on this website offer some examples of how schools and districts can enable their excellent teachers to reach more students. There are many more possibilities, and different models will be a good fit for different schools, teachers, and students. Schools must tailor and combine models to fit.


School design teams will want to consider at least these factors when tailoring models to fit their schools:

  • What are your goals? Of course you want to reach more students with the high-progress learning that excellent teachers produce. But are there other goals that you would like to achieve at the same time? Personalizing student learning, developing the whole child, and increasing higher-order learning are some possibilities. See Using Excellent Teachers’ Time Wisely for more ideas.
  • What other values are important to your school’s professional community? You might value collaboration, professional development, or innovation. Perhaps you have found these difficult in a one-teacher-one-classroom environment. So, consider which critical values you want to incorporate into your school models.
  • What are your constraints? For example, you may be working with fixed or falling budgets. You may have limits on available facilities or feasible schedules. And depending on your location, you may have limits on technology, access to certain teachers, or other elements that will affect how you reach students with excellent teachers.
  • What complementary talent and budget systems will you need to change? Recruiting, hiring, training, evaluation, professional development, career path selection, and pay are some talent systems you may want to change to reflect your new school design. Your long-term budgeting process and transitional-cost management are two areas that most schools will need to address.
  • How will you communicate? Communications start as soon as you begin to consider reaching more students with excellent teachers. Think about how you will communicate the exciting vision of what students can achieve when more of them have excellent teachers in charge of their learning. How will you obtain input and help from all members of the school community, as well as keeping everyone informed?

Free online tools available from Education Resource Strategies offer comprehensive strategic assessment and planning help to consider while making changes to increase top-teacher reach.


Here are a few more detailed items for school design teams to consider:

  • These models all generate financial savings, but without dictating what portion of savings should be allocated to excellent teachers’ pay versus other uses. School design teams will need to base those allocations upon each school’s financial circumstances and commitment to attracting, rewarding, and retaining excellent teachers.
  • Each school, district, or charter organization will need to determine what an “excellent teacher” is. Here, we set one starting guideline: Excellent teachers are those in the top one-fourth of teachers in comparable subjects and grades in a state or nationally, measured by student learning growth, if data about this measure are available.

We suggest that teachers achieve at that level for at least two of the prior three years to qualify as “excellent.” But as in any job, hitting the numbers is just one measure. Schools will want to reflect on their own definitions of teacher and student success: What else is included in your definition of student success? What measures of teacher excellence predict your definition(s) of student success? This might vary in different student populations, even within schools. Measures in addition to student learning growth might include teachers’ behavioral competencies, contributions to the school community, contributions to peer performance, strength of parent relationships, development of students’ higher-order thinking skills, and development of students’ supporting behaviors: social, emotional, and behavioral skills, and time management, for example. Some schools might include peer, supervisor, direct-report, and student assessments of teachers in these and other areas.

  • New roles will demand new actions by teachers, and the best schools will gather data to help place top-performing teachers in the right roles for extending their reach, adjusting when future results are not on par with past. Schools also will need to determine how other teachers can best be placed into roles that allow excellence and continuing development. This cannot be done by formula in the near future, although as schools gain experience, they will be able to make better role placements.

These and other considerations will help school design teams tailor models to fit each school and its students and teachers.


Case Studies

Public Impact is publishing a series of case studies to provide in-depth looks 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. We will also analyze how well the programs stack up to the five Opportunity Culture Principles, which call for reaching more students with excellent teaching, higher pay, sustainable funding, job-embedded development opportunity, and authority and accountability aligned with each teacher’s responsibilities.