For superintendents in collective bargaining districts who wonder how an Opportunity Culture could work, Syracuse, N.Y., educators have advice on working with unions. This vignette details the collaboration between the Syracuse district administration and union in launching an Opportunity Culture, highlighting actions to consider and critical moments in the process.
This brief summarizes and discusses state policies needed to support evaluation and accountability in an Opportunity Culture. A companion practical guide details management and administrative changes at both the state and district levels. Seizing Opportunity at the Top II explains all the policies states should address as more schools implement an OC for teachers and students.
A Practical Guide
Evaluation is one critical element of an Opportunity Culture, used primarily to guide development and career opportunities. But previous teacher evaluation reforms were built for the one-teacher-one-classroom model, and few districts have provided a robust, sustainably funded way to connect teacher evaluation with career opportunities. In contrast, in an Opportunity Culture, few teachers work alone most of the time. Because most Opportunity Culture teachers collaborate with colleagues in teams, they see one another’s thinking and actions up close. These colleagues and team leaders are in the best position to give one another valuable and accurate feedback to support their improvement throughout the year.
All of this changes both the content and process of teacher evaluation—for the better. But districts and states must deliberately change evaluation to match the team, team leader, and extended-reach roles that are common in schools using Opportunity Culture models. This guide will help education leaders align evaluation and its uses with an Opportunity Culture and similar school models and career paths—successfully and at a low cost.
In an article for School Administrator magazine, Sharon Kebschull Barrett, senior editor at Public Impact, examines how districts can attract rock star teachers, especially to hard-to-staff schools and subjects. Four districts that implemented the Opportunity Culture model — Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Cabarrus County, N.C., Syracuse, N.Y., and Nashville, Tenn. — have found a way to keep great teachers in the classroom and reach more students, offering leadership opportunities, on-the-job training and higher pay. These districts now receive a significant number of high-quality applicants each year, allowing for selectivity in positions that once went unfilled.
Opportunity Culture models have been operating in pioneering schools since the 2013–14 school year. What early lessons do the schools offer in implementing these models to put excellent teachers in charge of all students’ learning, for more pay, and provide all teachers with frequent, on-the-job support and development? This brief shares the lessons that Public Impact and our partners have learned from our work with these schools in their early stages of Opportunity Culture implementation. It summarizes nine overarching lessons, offers our solutions for assistance providers, schools, and districts, and gives examples of actions that Public Impact, our partners, and some schools and districts have taken.