• 1.1

    Professional compensation structure

    Salaries and benefits enable a good standard of living throughout a teacher's career

    Pursuit of a teaching career should never require a sacrifice of financial security. To identify districts where teacher compensation translates into a good standard of living, we considered two factors: salary size (which, when adjusted for cost of living,[1] should reflect a livable wage) and the security and portability of retirement benefits.

    Salary plays an important role in making teachers feel like valued professionals and in attracting new talent to the profession. Surveys suggest that low compensation discourages promising college students from pursuing teaching careers, with many doubting whether they could raise a family on what they would earn.[2] No one becomes a teacher hoping to strike it rich, but salary has an impact on long-term job satisfaction, even among those who have chosen this career path.[3]

    To assess salary size, we consider what effective teachers earn over the course of their careers as well as what they earn at various stages.[4] To score well on this metric, all teachers--including those at the beginning of their careers--should earn a fair income and salary increases should occur most rapidly in the first half of a teacher's career.[5]

    Retirement benefits are another important part of a fair compensation package, but they can represent a blessing or a curse. While teachers who ultimately work in a single state over a period of decades can become eligible for substantial retirement benefits, those who change careers or even just move across state lines tend to lose out.[6] By one estimate, over half of new teachers will never become eligible to receive the retirement benefits they earn from teaching;[7] what's worse, those teachers who stick it out can feel "trapped"- ready to move on but unwilling to walk away from the benefits tied to their years of employment.[8] For this reason, we credit districts with portable pension options and shorter vesting periods. 

    Teachers who never fully vest in their district's retirement plans are not the only ones who stand to lose benefits. Nationally, state pension plans have accrued substantial debt as a result of poor management over the course of decades.[9] To ensure that teachers can be confident that their retirement benefits will be there when the time comes, we look for great districts where the pension systems are fully or near-fully funded.

    1. Cost of living adjustments are based on the regional price parities produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis for the metropolitan statistical area of each district.
    2. Auguste, B., Kihn, P., & Miller, M. (2010). Closing the talent gap: Attracting and retaining top-third graduates to careers in teachingMcKinsey & Company. See also Third Way. (2014). National online survey of college students.
    3. Moderate evidence establishes a relationship between teacher salary and job satisfaction. For instance, a national teacher survey found that teachers with low job satisfaction were less likely than teachers with high job satisfaction to consider their salary fair; however, even among teachers who were highly satisfied, satisfaction with salary remained relatively low (43 percent). MetLife (2012). The MetLife survey of the American teacher: Teachers, parents and the economy. A 2008 study found a correlation between teachers' perception of their compensation and their hypothetical willingness to pursue a teaching career if they were given the opportunity to "start over again." Zhang, Z., Verstegen, D. A., & Ryoung Kim, H. (2008). Teacher compensation and school quality: New findings from national and international data. Educational Considerations35 (2), pp. 19-28.
    4. For this metric, we consider earnings of an effective teacher with a 30-year teaching career who earned a master's degree after four years of teaching, an additional 30 credits after eight years of teaching, and an additional 15 credits after 10 years of teaching.
    5. Too often, districts backload their salary schedules to award greater salary increases to the most experienced teachers; as a result, a younger teacher may struggle to buy a home or start a family in early and middle adulthood. Joseph, N., & Waymack, N. (2014). Smart money: What teachers make, how long it takes and what it buys them
    6. Costrell, R., & Podgursky, M. (2009) Distribution of benefits in teacher retirement systems and their implications for mobilityNational Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Goldhaber, D., Grout, C., Holden, K., & Borwn, N. (2015). Crossing the border? Exploring the cross-state mobility of the teacher workforce. National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Aldeman, C. (2015). Hidden penalties: How states shortchange early-career teachers. TeacherPensions.org.
    7. Current estimates indicate that over half of new teachers will never vest into their state pension plans. TeacherPensions.org. Mobility and portability.
    8. Duffett, A., Farkas, S., Rotherham, A.J., & Silva, E. (2008). Waiting to be won over: Teachers speak on the profession, unions, and reformEducation Sector Reports.
    9. Backes, B., Goldhaber, D., Grout, C., Koedel, C., Ni, S., Podgursky, M., Xiang, P. B., & Xu, Z. (2016). Educational Researcher45(6), pp. 367-377. Doherty, K. M., Jacobs, S., & Lueken, M. F. (2015). Doing the math on teacher pensions: How to protect teachers and taxpayers. National Council on Teacher Quality.
  • 1.2

    Professional compensation structure

    Salaries reward teachers for doing a great job

    In exchange for great work done under challenging circumstances, teachers deserve much more than a pat on the back; at a minimum, they should receive compensation that recognizes their contributions. Therefore, we consider whether salary increases and bonuses are tied to evaluations, whether performance pay is available to all great teachers (rather than only those who teach tested subjects), and whether teachers are rewarded for earning National Board certification or for teaching in hard-to-staff schools or subjects.

    Performance pay has come a long way over the last decade. Ten years ago, the approach enjoyed only modest support among educators, due in large part to concerns related to implementation.[1] However, as tools for measuring outcomes have improved,[2] so has teachers' support for performance pay.[3] Younger teachers, in particular, are increasingly likely to support financial rewards for outstanding teachers, which may signal a need to re-think compensation for the next generation of teachers.[4]

    Differentiated pay for teachers who work in high-need schools, teach hard-to-staff subjects, or hold National Board certification has also earned broad and increasing support among teachers.[5] And, when financial incentives are substantial, it works as a staffing strategy: great teachers have responded to these financial incentives by transferring to lower-performing schools and raising test scores when they get there.[6] 

    While compensation initiatives often focus on teachers who fill specific roles, districts should find ways to recognize all teachers who demonstrate excellence, regardless of subject or grade level. This means that a fair compensation structure will also reward the work of teachers in non-tested subjects.[7] There are many ways that districts can reward this substantial contingency of teachers, but leaving them out is not an option.[8]

    Finally, when it comes to performance or differentiated pay, small financial rewards won't cut it. A district that commits to rewarding great teaching must do so in a meaningful way to make a real difference for teachers.[9]

    1. Jacob, B., & Springer, M. G. (2008). Teacher attitudes toward pay for performance: Evidence from Hillsborough County, Florida. National Center on Performance Incentives. Goldhaber, D., DeArmond, M., & Deburgomaster, S. (2007).
    2. Approaches to measuring student learning continue to evolve and expand. For instance, many districts track progress using student learning outcomes (SLOs) that capture student progress using traditional assessments (such as end of course tests) or non-traditional assessments (such as demonstrations). Reform Support Network. Targeting growth: Using student learning objectives as a measure of educator effectiveness. As research on value-added measures of student achievement, which are based on students' prior and anticipated performance on state assessments, has accumulated, researchers have identified strategies for using this information responsibly; for instance, districts may improve the reliability of these measures by combining teacher data across multiple years and monitoring implementation for unintended consequences. American Educational Research Association. (2015). AERA statement on the use of value-added models (VAM) for the evaluation of educators and educator preparation programs. While this AERA statement outlines some conservative approaches to using value-added measures, it cautions against using them in high-stakes decisions. Other researchers, however, assert the validity and utility of value-added measures to inform a range of staffing decisions. Chetty, R., Friedman, J., & Rockoff, J. (2014). Discussion of the American Statistical Association's statement (2014) on using value-added models for educational assessment. Statistics and Public Policy, 1(1), pp. 111-113. While we expect districts to use student achievement measures in staffing decisions and evaluations, we do not require districts to use value-added measures to receive credit on these metrics.
    3. Springer & Gardner (2010) documents shifts in the information available to assess teacher performance, efforts to encourage cooperation, and increased union engagement in developing performance pay systems that are fair and liked by teachers. Springer, M. G., & Gardner, C. D. (2010). Teacher pay for performance: Context, status, and direction. Kappan, 91(8), pp. 815. In contrast, Goldhaber et. al. (2010) found low overall support for performance pay among Washington state teachers; however, support was more robust among teachers with trust in their principals. Goldhaber, D., DeArmond, M., & DeBurgomaster, S. (2010). Teacher attitudes about compensation reform: Implications for reform implementation. National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.
    4. Coggshall et al. (2011) finds that 75 percent of millennial teachers would "support an effort by their union to take the lead in negotiating a way to add performance as a consideration in salary decisions," compared with 53 percent of baby boomers. Coggshall, J. G., Behrstock-Sherratt, E., & Drill, K. (2011). Workplaces that support high-performing teaching and learning: Insights from Generation Y teachers. American Institutes for Research and the American Federation of Teachers.
    5. For example, in 2007, a national survey found 80 percent support for financial incentives for "teachers who work in tough neighborhoods with low-performing schools," up from 70 percent in 2003. The same survey found 64 percent support for additional pay for National Board certified teachers, up from 57 percent four years earlier. Duffett et al. (2008), Op. cit. In a 2006 survey of Washington state teachers, 72 percent indicated support for differentiated pay based on school setting. However, support for differentiated pay based on subject area or National Board certification was lower (41 percent and 47 percent, respectively). Goldhaber et. al. (2010), Op. cit.
    6. One such example is the Talent Transfer Initiative (TTI), through which teachers ranked in the top 20 percent using value-added measures could receive $20,000 for teaching in a target school for two years. Roughly one-third of high-performing teachers identified as potential program participants attended an information session and 22 percent completed an application to transfer. Nearly 90 percent of vacancies in target schools were filled by these high-performing teachers. Glazerman, S., A. Protik, B. Teh, J. Bruch, J. Max. (2013). Transfer Incentives for High Performing Teachers: Final Results from a Multisite Experiment (NCEE 2014-4003). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. A comprehensive review of performance and differentiated pay programs also found evidence of effectiveness. Chait, R., & Miller, R. (2009). Paying teachers for results: A summary of research to inform the design of pay-for-performance programs for high-poverty schools. Center for American Progress. Lemke et al. (2012) describes the implementation of differentiated pay, among other staffing strategies, in five districts. Lemke, M., Thomsen, K., Wayne, A., Birman, B. (2012). Providing effective teachers for all students: Examples from five districts. Prepared by the American Institutes for Research on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development.
    7. Reform Support Network. Measuring student growth for teachers in non-tested grades and subjects.
    8. Many policy researchers have catalogued the range of options available to districts to compensate teachers of non-tested subjects for their performance. Prince, C. D., Schuermann, P. J., Guthrie, J. W., Witham, P. J., Milanowski, A. T., Thorn, C. A. (2009). The other 69 percent: Fairly rewarding the performance of teachers of nontested subjects and grades. Center for Educator Compensation Reform. Bivona, L. (2012). Options for including teachers of nontested grades and subjects in performance-based compensation systems. American Institutes for Research. Buckley, K., & Marion, S. (2011). A survey of approaches used to evaluate educators in non-tested grades and subjects. National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment.
    9. Instances in which performance pay and differentiated pay frameworks have failed commonly cite low dollar amounts as a possible reason for failure. For examples, see: Wellington, A., Chiang, H., Hallgren, K., Speroni, C., Herrmann, M., Burkander, P. (2016). Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After Three Years (NCEE 2016-4004). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education; Kaimal, G., & Jordan, W. J. (2016). Do incentive-based programs improve teacher quality and student achievement? An analysis of implementation in 12 urban charter schools. Teachers College Record, 118(070302).
  • 2.1

    Professional support

    The district's professional development is high quality and tailored to teachers' needs

    Nationally, teacher professional development is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, we've seen high-quality professional development initiatives translate into major improvements in student achievement;[1] on the other hand, we know that the professional development teachers typically receive often holds limited value.[2] To recognize districts that are making the most of professional development, we sought evidence that districts take the following steps:

    • Provide teachers and schools with time to engage in professional development and funds to cover the costs of professional development delivered by external vendors [3]
    • Ensure professional development opportunities are ongoing and build on one another, and do not consist of one-off sessions [4]
    • Tailor professional development to teacher needs [5]
    • Support teachers in selecting professional development opportunities [6]
    • Collect feedback from teachers on professional development program quality, which can lead to program improvements [7]

    Given the broad variability in professional development quality, and the possibility that approaches may appear effective on paper but be ineffective in reality, we considered districts' policies related to professional development and teacher feedback on the implementation of professional development in their districts.

    1. On the basis of nine rigorous studies, Yoon et al. (2007) found that teachers who received extensive professional development—an average of 49 hours across the studies examined—improved student achievement by roughly 21 percentile points. Professional development programs that engaged teachers for 14 hours or less did not affect student outcomes. Each study focused on a single professional development initiative; therefore, the impact of total hours on teacher outcomes refers to time spent in a single, sustained professional development program spanning a year or less, rather than overall time spent across various programs. Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W.-Y., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2007-No. 033). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest.
    2. Jacob, A., & McGovern, K. (2015). The mirage: Confronting the hard truth about our quest for teacher development. The New Teacher Project. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2014).Teachers know best: Teachers' views on professional development. Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the teachers: Effective professional development in an era of high stakes accountability. Center for Public Education. Jacob, A. (2013). Perspectives of irreplaceable teachers: What America's best teachers think about teaching. The New Teacher Project.
    3. Gulamhussein (2013) urges district leaders to track investments in professional development to ensure effective spending. She cites teacher time as the largest cost and encourages districts to compensate teachers for ongoing professional development that occurs outside of school hours.
    4. Effective professional development is sustained. Yoon et al. (2007), Op. cit. Gulamhussein (2013), Op. cit. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2014), Op. cit. Ochsendorf, R., & Taylor, K. (2015). A summary of professional development research. National Center for Special Education Research.
    5. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2014), Op. cit. Ochsendorf & Taylor (2015), Op. cit.
    6. Recommended by teachers who participated in focus groups as part of the development of this initiative. Also supported by research that urges districts to use teacher evaluations to identify teacher strengths and weaknesses and offer support accordingly. Goe, L., Biggers, K., & Croft, A. (2012). Linking teacher evaluation to professional development: Focusing on improving teaching and learning. National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality.
    7. Greenberg, M. (2015). "Teachers want better feedback." Education Week.
  • 2.2

    Professional support

    The district supports teachers to plan effectively

    Planning time—when sufficient and strategically allocated—can help ensure teachers begin each day with a roadmap for successful instruction. To examine districts' approach to allocating and structuring non-instructional time, we considered the amount of planning time teachers receive, opportunities for using planning time to collaborate, and flexibility in the use of planning time to meet the needs of individual teachers and schools.

    Teachers place a high premium on their planning time. In previous surveys, they've rated increased planning time among the best approaches for improving recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers[1] and for improving student achievement.[2] And they're probably right: in countries that fare best on international assessments, teachers spend a substantial proportion of their work week engaged in planning and other activities that promote strong instruction;[3] some evidence also suggests that U.S. schools that have taken a similar approach have also seen rapid improvement in student performance.[4]

    Strategically scheduled planning periods establish opportunities for teachers to collaborate with colleagues in meaningful ways. Overlapping planning time, even if scheduled only once or twice a week, can allow teachers to meet with others who share the same subject, grade, or students.[5] Further, teachers who participate in learning communities and feel supported in their professional goals may receive more effective professional development than they would through traditional methods.[6]

    1. In response to a nationally representative teacher survey, 85 percent of survey respondents identified this idea as a "good" or "excellent" strategy. Duffet, A., Farkas, S., Rotherham, A. J., & Silva, E. (2008). Waiting to be won over: Teachers speak on the profession, unions, and reform. Education Sector Reports. In addition, in a national survey of highly effective teachers, most respondents cited lack of time or exhaustion as what they like least about teaching. Jacob, A. (2013). Perspectives of irreplaceable teachers: What America's best teachers think about teaching. The New Teacher Project.
    2. Rentner, D. S., Kober, N., Frizzell, M., Ferguson, M. (2016). Listen to us: Teacher views and voices. Center on Education Policy. See also: Wood Communications Group (2014) survey of Wisconsin teachers, as cited in Merrit, E. G. (2016). Time for teacher learning, planning critical for school reform. Kappan Magazine, 98(4), pp. 31-66.
    3. OECD. (2014). A teacher's guide to TALIS 2013: Teaching and Learning International Survey.
    4. Kaplan, C., Chan, R., Farbman, D. A., & Novoryta, A. (2015). Time for teachers: Leveraging expanded time to strengthen instruction and empower teachers. National Center on Time & Learning.
    5. Merrit (2016), Op. cit.
    6. Stewart, C. (2014). Transforming professional development to professional learning. Journal of Adult Education, 43(1), pp. 28-33. Kraft, M. A., & Papay, J. P. (2014). Can professional environments in schools promote teacher development? Explaining heterogeneity in returns to teaching experience. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 36(4), pp. 476-500. Notably, one national survey found high teacher dissatisfaction with formal professional learning communities (PLCs); however, given the broader body of research that supports collaborative professional development, it is possible that weak implementation hinders these opportunities in practice. For instance, in another survey of highly effective teachers, 40 percent ranked insufficient planning time or opportunities to collaborate with other teachers among the top three greatest barriers to effective teaching. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2014). Teachers know best: Teachers' views on professional development. Jacob (2013), Op. cit. For additional research documenting the disconnect between the design quality of a professional development program and the implementation quality, see Akiba, M., & Wilkinson, B. (2015). Adopting an internal innovation for teacher professional development: State and district approaches to lesson study in Florida. Journal of Teacher Education, 67(1), pp. 74-93.
  • 2.3

    Professional support

    Beginning teachers are supported to develop as effective teachers

    A culture committed to collaboration and professional growth must include support for beginning teachers, whose first years offer critical moments of socialization and professional growth.[1] We credit districts that observe new teachers early and often and that provide new teachers with mentoring and other forms of support, such as an induction program or other professional development tailored to the needs of new teachers.

    Observations conducted by trained administrators or experienced teachers serve as a valuable source of timely, personalized feedback.[2] Teachers have expressed support for frequent observations so that they might receive more feedback and better coaching based on a more accurate picture of their performance in the classroom.[3] For beginning teachers, who may be less attuned to certain learning or behavioral issues in their classrooms,[4] experienced observers can highlight patterns that they might not have picked up on. For the next generation of new teachers, frequent feedback may be especially important: in a recent survey, 75 percent of millennial teachers stated a preference for frequent observations and detailed feedback.[5]

    Induction[6] and mentoring programs for new teachers have positive effects on teacher retention, instruction, and student achievement.[7] But the outcomes ultimately hinge on implementation quality. For instance, teachers commonly cite scheduling conflicts as a hindrance to effective participation in induction and mentorship programs.[8] Induction and mentoring programs should also provide an opportunity for districts to provide professional development targeted specifically to the needs of novice teachers and the ways in which novice teachers learn.[9] For instance, beginning teachers might need basic information on what resources the district offers and how to access them; they may face the additional stress that comes from the newness of their profession; they may struggle to differentiate materials for students with various needs. In any event, they would benefit from non-judgmental support that can come from a mentor.[10]

    1. Richter, D., Kunter, M., Ludtke, O., Klusmann, U., Anders, Y., Baumert, J. (2013). How different mentoring approaches affect beginning teachers' development in the first years of practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 36, pp. 166-177. Pogodzinski, B. (2012). Socialization of novice teachers. Journal of School Leadership, 22(5), pp. 982-1023. Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., Rockoff, J., & Wyckoff, J. (2008). The narrowing gap in New York City teacher qualifications and its implications for student achievement in high-poverty schools. National Bureau of Economic Research.
    2. Reform Support Network. (2015). Using observations to improve teacher practice: How states can build meaningful observation systems. Goe, L., Biggers, K., & Croft, A. Linking teacher evaluation to professional development: Focusing on improving teaching and learning. National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality.
    3. Teacher support for frequent observations is based largely on anecdotal evidence but is generally supported by research suggesting that having multiple observers improves the overall quality of feedback a teacher receives over the course of the school year. Shalvey, D. (2016). Why "many mini" observations are catching on among teachers. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Odom, E., & Lawrence, N. (2013). Why we chose more unannounced observations.Chalkbeat. Kane, T. J., Staiger, D. O. (2012). Gathering feedback for teaching: Combining high-quality observations with student surveys and achievement gains. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
    4. Amador, J. (2014). Professional noticing practices of novice mathematics teacher educators. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 14(1), pp. 217-241. Wolff, C. E., Jarodzka, H., van den Bogert, N., Boshuizen, H. (2016). Teacher vision: Expert and novice teachers' perception of problematic classroom management scenes. Instructional Science, 44(3), pp. 243-265.
    5. Coggshall, J. G., Behrstock-Sherratt, E., and Drill, K. (2011). Workplaces that support high-performing teaching and learning: Insights from Generation Y teachers. American Institutes for Research and the American Federation of Teachers.
    6. While there is no one approach to developing an effective induction program, as a rule, more support will lead to better outcomes. Mentorships and common planning time for collaboration have been found to be particularly positive influences. Other forms of support may include communication with an administrator, new teacher seminars, access to a teacher's aide, or reduced course load. Ingersoll, R. (2012). Beginning teacher induction: What the data tell us. Kappan Magazine, 93(8), pp. 47-51.
    7. Comprehensive literature reviews on induction and mentoring programs and teacher development have identified these core benefits. See Ingersoll, R. M., & Strong, M. (2011). The impact of induction and mentoring programs for beginning teachers: A critical review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 81(2), pp. 201-233. Haynes, M. (2014). On the path to equity: Improving the effectiveness of beginning teachers. Alliance for Excellent Education. Districts can implement mentoring programs at little cost and with few resources, as demonstrated by one study in which low- and high-performing teachers were paired based on their complementary strengths and areas of growth and then encouraged to work together as they saw fit. Papay, J. P., Taylor, E. S., Tyler, J. H., & Laski, M. (2016). Learning job skills from colleagues at work: Evidence from a field experiment using teacher performance data. National Bureau of Economic Research.
    8. Barrera, A., Braley, R. T., & Slate, J. R. (2010). Beginning teacher success: An investigation into the feedback from mentors of formal mentoring programs. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning. 18(1).
    9. Protheroe, N. (2006). The principal's role in supporting new teachers. Principal, November/December 2006.
    10. Ibid.
  • 2.4

    Professional support

    Teachers receive feedback and coaching to help them improve their performance

    Constructive, detailed feedback and coaching is a critical component of teacher development.[1] To ensure teachers receive high-quality feedback on their teaching practice, we expect districts to:

    • Select observers with instructional expertise and provide them with training 
    • Require observers to provide teachers with written feedback
    • Ask teachers whether they are satisfied with the post-observation feedback they receive 

    Not just anyone can serve as an effective observer and coach. Observers should have strong knowledge of effective teaching practices and the relevant subject; in the eyes of teachers, this knowledge is a prerequisite if an observer is to provide useful and credible feedback.[2] Less important is the observer's title, however. Peer teachers, as well as administrators, both serve as skilled observers. Districts have found trained peer observers capable of providing accurate and useful feedback[3] and highly effective teachers overwhelmingly report their appreciation for feedback received from colleagues they respect.[4]  All observers, regardless of qualifications, should nevertheless receive ongoing training related to this responsibility.[5]

    To help ensure observers give deliberate thought to the feedback they impart and to provide teachers with guidance that they can revisit as needed, we expect districts to require observer feedback to be written. This feature received support among the teachers who helped developed these metrics and is a component of many effective observation protocols.[6]

    Finally, one of the best ways to examine the quality and usefulness of observations is by seeking feedback from teachers themselves.[7] This approach helps the district identify ways to improve training and professional development for observers.[8]

    1. Research establishes that teachers value and respond to high-quality feedback. For instance, one teacher survey found that the preference for frequent observations and detailed feedback (as opposed to few observations and general feedback) stood at 75 percent for millennial teachers, 70 percent for Generation X teachers, and 59 percent for baby boomers. Coggshall, J. G., Behrstock-Sherratt, E., and Drill, K. (2011). Workplaces that support high-performing teaching and learning: Insights from Generation Y teachers. American Institutes for Research and the American Federation of Teachers. See also Greenberg, M. (2015). "Teachers want better feedback." Education Week. Teacher response to feedback includes improvement in performance (Taylor & Tyler 2011) and greater longevity in the profession (Jacob, 2012). Taylor, E. S., & Tyler, J. H. (2011). The effect of evaluation on performance: Evidence from longitudinal student achievement data of mid-career teachers. National Bureau of Economic Research. Jacob, A. (2012). The irreplaceables: Understanding the real retention crisis in America's urban schools. The New Teacher Project.
    2. Cherasaro, T. L., Brodersen, R. M., Reale, M. L., & Yanoski, D. C. (2016). Teachers' responses to feedback from evaluators: What feedback characteristics matter? (REL 2017-190). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Central.
    3. See Taylor, E. S., & Tyler, J. H. (2012). Can teacher evaluation improve teaching? Evidence of systematic growth in the effectiveness of midcareer teachers. Education Next, 12(4), pp. 78-84.
    4. In a national survey of highly effective teachers, 96 percent of respondents stated that they valued feedback received from colleagues they respect. However, this survey question about teachers' response to feedback was broad and not limited to the observation context. Jacob, A. (2013). Perspectives of irreplaceable teachers: What America's best teachers think about teaching. The New Teacher Project.
    5. Sartain, L. S., Stoelinga, S. R., Brown, E. R. (2011). Rethinking teacher evaluation in Chicago: Lessons learned from classroom observations, principal-teacher conferences, and district implementation. Consortium on Chicago School Research.
    6. See Taylor & Tyler (2012), Op. cit. Wayne, A. J., Garet, M. S., Brown, S., Rickles, J., Song, M., Manzeske, D., (2016). Early Implementation Findings From a Study of Teacher and Principal Performance Measurement and Feedback: Year 1 Report (NCEE 2017-4004). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Duchaine, E. L., Jolivette, K., & Fredrick, L. D. (2011). The effect of teacher coaching with performance feedback on behavior-specific praise in inclusion classrooms. Education and Treatment of Children, 34(2), pp. 209-227.
    7. Goe et al. (2014) recommends teacher surveys as a tool for collecting feedback on evaluation processes. Goe, L., Holdheide, L., & Miller, T. (2014). Practical guide to designing comprehensive teacher evaluation systems. American Institutes for Research.
    8. Park, S., Takahashi, S., & White, T. (2014). Developing an effective teacher feedback system. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
  • 2.5

    Professional support

    Teachers feel that they are supported in delivery of the district's curriculum

    A district's role in the curriculum doesn't end at the development stage; rather, leaders must ensure teachers have access to the training and instructional resources that underpin successful curriculum implementation.

    Even in districts with comprehensive, universal curricula, lesson delivery is likely to look different in every classroom. This occurs, in part, because how a teacher interprets and adapts a curriculum is influenced by his or her skill as an instructor and knowledge of how to teach the subject matter.[1] While some variation will reflect the successful differentiation needed in each classroom, other disparities may result from poor implementation that will affect students' ability to build on their learning from year to year.[2] Training and coaching focused on honing the skills and knowledge required to implement a curriculum can improve teachers' confidence in the curriculum, generate a shared understanding of concepts, and improve student learning.[3]

    Beyond coaching, other resources also support successful curriculum implementation. For instance, educative curriculum materials, which support teacher learning in a manner that improves instruction, support teacher development[4] and improve student outcomes.[5] Likewise, the quality of instructional materials, such as textbooks, technology, and assessments, can set a teacher up to succeed or fail.[6] To assess the quality of resources and professional support related to curriculum implementation, we sought feedback from teachers.

    1. Beyer, C. J., & Davis, E. A. (2012). Learning to critique and adapt science curriculum materials: Examining the development of preservice elementary teachers' pedagogical content knowledge. Science Education, 96(1), pp. 130-157.
    2. The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. (2009). Vertical alignment: Ensuring opportunity to learn in a standards-based system.
    3. A study of the implementation of a social and emotional learning curriculum found that teacher perception of support (particularly, coaching) influenced implementation quality and the extent of implementation. Ransford, C. R., Greenberg, 'M. T., Domitrovich, C. E., Small, M., Jacobson, L. (2009). The role of teachers' psychological experiences and perceptions of curriculum supports on the implementation of a social and emotional learning curriculum. School Psychology Review, 38(4), pp. 510-532. Another study on the implementation of an inquiry-based science curriculum found that teachers' understanding of the scientific argument influenced implementation quality and student learning. McNeill, K. L. (2009). Teachers' use of curriculum to support students in writing scientific arguments to explain phenomena. Science Education, 93(2), pp. 233-268. See also Penuel, W. R., Fishman, B. J., Yamaguchi, R., & Gallagher, L. P. (2007). What makes professional development effective? Strategies that foster curriculum implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 44(4), pp. 921-958.
    4. For a detailed case study on the use of digital materials to support teacher learning and curriculum implementation, see Callahan, C., Saye, J., & Brush, T. (2015). Supporting in-service teachers' professional teaching knowledge with educatively scaffolded digital curriculum. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 15(4), pp. 568-599.
    5. Bismack, A. S., Arias, A. M., Davis, E. A., & Palincsar, A. S. (2015). Examining student work for evidence of teacher uptake of educative curriculum materials. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(6), pp. 816-846.
    6. Chingos, M. M., & Whitehurst, G. J. (2012). Choosing blindly: Instructional materials, teacher effectiveness, and the Common Core. Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings. For an example of high-quality curriculum materials that improve student outcomes, see Jackson, C. K., & Makarin, A. (2016). Can online off-the-shelf lessons improve student outcomes? Evidence from a field experiment. National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • 3.1

    Effective management and operations

    Decisions about staffing are made at the school level and respect teachers' performance and expertise

    Teachers are not interchangeable parts in the district machinery; rather, they possess distinct skills and abilities that suit them to succeed as instructors within a given school.[1] To make sure the teachers end up in classrooms where they are likely to be successful, districts should ensure that decisions about transfers are made at the school level and all staffing decisions are based on teacher performance and expertise.

    Recent years have seen growing support for the principles of mutual consent, which rely on teacher and principal approval of the transfer or placement of a teacher in a particular school.[2] The approach not only permits principals a degree of freedom in how they assemble their teams but also results in assignments that teachers find agreeable. Surveys conducted in New York City and Milwaukee found high levels of support for mutual consent policies and high levels of job satisfaction among affected teachers.[3]

    For teachers within a given school, class assignments should account for the school's needs and respect teacher expertise. Placement of teachers in grades or subjects for which they are unqualified to teach positions them to feel ineffectual.[4] The research backs up this sentiment, finding that teachers without certification in a subject area tend to produce lower student achievement results than their certified colleagues.[5] Furthermore, the pressure that comes with an ill-fitting teaching assignment can drive teachers to different schools or out of the profession altogether.[6]

    Finally, districts should have a process for dismissal based on teacher performance. Teachers largely recognize the value of a fair and feasible approach to dismissal of low-performing teachers.[7]

    1. Jackson (2010) documents the effects of the teacher-school "match" on student achievement. He finds that "certain kinds of teacher school combinations are associated with better outcomes such that a teacher placement policy that maximized match quality could lead to meaningfully improved student outcomes." Jackson, C. K. (2010). Match quality, worker productivity, and worker mobility: Direct evidence from teachers. National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper Series.
    2. Sawchuk, S. (July 6, 2010). "Mutual Consent" Teacher Placement Gains Ground. Education Week.
    3. The New Teacher Project (TNTP) conducted surveys in both cities. In New York City, over 87 percent of transfer teachers and 82 percent of excessed teachers agreed that it was important that principals approve of their placement in their school. In addition, 91 percent of teachers who transferred voluntarily and 83 percent of excessed teachers said they were at least satisfied with their new positions. In Milwaukee, teachers who received new school assignments as a result of an interview process concordant with the principles of mutual consent were about twice as likely to be satisfied with the placement process and the fit of their new assignment as teachers who were assigned to a school by the district's human resources department. Daly, T., Keeling, D., Grainger, R., & Grundies, A. (2008). Mutual benefits: New York City's shift to mutual consent in hiring. The New Teacher Project. The New Teacher Project. (2007). Hiring, Assignment, and Transfer in Milwaukee Public Schools.
    4. Du Plessis 2014 interviews out-of-field teachers in Australia and South Africa and finds that out-of-field placement affects teacher confidence and self-esteem and leads to a sense that they are being held to unrealistic expectations. Du Pleissis, A. E., Gillies, R. M., Carroll, A. (2014). Out-of-field teaching and professional development: A transnational investigation across Australia and South Africa. International Journal of Educational Research, 66, pp. 90-102.
    5. Goldhaber, D. D., & Brewer, D. J. (2000). Does teacher certification matter? High school teacher certification status and student achievement. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 22(2), pp. 129-145.
    6. Donaldson & Johnson (2010) found that Teach for America teachers assigned to teach multiple grades, multiple subjects, or subjects out of their field were more likely to leave their schools or quit teaching than were teachers with less challenging or more appropriate assignments. Donaldson, M. L., & Johnson, S. M. (2010). The price of misassignment: The role of teaching assignments in Teach for America teachers' exit from low-income schools and the teaching profession. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 32(2), pp. 299-323.
    7. For example, Duffet et al. (2008) survey found that 46% knew a teacher in their building with tenure "who is past the probationary period but who is clearly ineffective and shouldn't be in the classroom"; 55% said the removal process was difficult and time-consuming. Duffett, A., Farkas, S., Rotherham, A. J., & Silva, E. (2008). Waiting to be won over: Teachers speak on the profession, unions, and reform. Education Sector Reports. Coggshall et al. (2010) finds that nearly 80 percent of millennial teachers express at least some agreement that an easier termination process for ineffective teachers would improve instruction and 85 percent believe that at least a few teachers in their schools "fail to do a good job and are simply going through the motions." Coggshall, J. G., Ott, A., Behrstock, E., Lasagna, M. (2010). Retaining teacher talent: The view from Generation Y. Weisberg et al. (2009) found that 57 percent of teachers believed their school employed a poor-performing tenured teacher and 43 percent believed their school employed a tenured teacher who should be fired. Weisberg, D., Sexton, S., Mulhern, J., Keeling, D. (2009). The widget effect: Our national failure to acknowledge and act on differences in teacher effectiveness. The New Teacher Project. In a national survey of highly effective teachers, 90 percent of respondents stated that ineffective teaching affects the reputation of the profession and 61 percent stated that ineffective teaching is a problem in their district. Jacob, A. (2013). Perspectives of irreplaceable teachers: What America's best teachers think about teaching. The New Teacher Project.
  • 3.2

    Effective management and operations

    Teacher evaluation systems are transparent and based on quality evidence

    A transparent evaluation framework based on quality evidence is essential to a district's ability to reward great teachers and support professional growth among all teachers. To assess these qualities, we sought evidence that districts' evaluation systems are clear to teachers, incorporate at least three performance levels, rely on multiple measures of teacher performance, require annual evaluations, and include multiple observations conducted by different observers.

    To drive effective teaching, an evaluation framework must be clear to those who it holds accountable. A clear, shared understanding of expectations lays the groundwork for an evaluation system that encourages best practices and identifies teachers for additional support effectively.[1] Likewise, an evaluation system that includes at least three rating categories--rather than distinguishing only between effective and ineffective teachers--can identify teachers performing at the highest levels and use the evaluation process to encourage and reward those teachers. By conducting evaluations annually for all teachers, the district also ensures districts' ability to offer recognition and support based on current performance.

    Evaluations that include observations conducted by multiple observers also yield more credible and reliable performance scores.[2] Even well-trained observers can differ in their subjective judgments, and even great teachers can have an off day; by having multiple observers rate multiple lessons, districts decrease the risk that one unrepresentative observation score will derail a teacher's overall evaluation.[3] Teachers, likewise, see the protective value in an evaluation system that requires multiple observations.[4]

    Teacher support for evaluations based on multiple measures--including student achievement--remains mixed, with some detractors expressing concern over the quality of certain measures of student outcomes.[5] However, teachers remain open to evaluation processes that make use of student outcomes and student survey data in addition to observations, as long as those measures are of high quality and are incorporated in a fair manner.[6]

    1. Danielson, C. (2010). Evaluations that help teachers learn. The Effective Educator, 68(4).
    2. White, T. (2014). Adding eyes: The rise, rewards, and risks of multi-rater teacher observation systems. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Cantrell, S., & Kane, T. J. (2013). Ensuring fair and reliable measures of effective teaching. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Whitehurst, G. J., Chingos, M. M., & Lindquist, K. M. (2015). Getting classroom observations right. Education Next, 15(1), pp. 63-68.
    3. Kane, T. J., Staiger, D. O. (2012). Gathering feedback for teaching: Combining high-quality observations with student surveys and achievement gains. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
    4. Noted in a research-based white paper published by teachers in Washington State. Teachers United. (2012). A teacher evaluation system designed to improve student achievement.
    5. Corcoran, S., & Goldhaber, D. (2013). Value added and its uses: Where you stand depends on where you sit. Education Finance and Policy, 8(3), pp. 418-434. Notably, the Educators for Excellence Declaration of Teachers Principles and Beliefs endorses evaluations based on multiple measures, including student outcomes.
    6. A study of Arizona teachers evaluated through multiple measures, including student achievement, student surveys, and observations, found that while teachers still found observations to be the most credible source of evidence, they were open to incorporation of high-quality measures of student achievement and student survey data. Ruffni, S., Makkonen, R., Tejwani, J., & Diaz, M. (2014). Principal and teacher perceptions of implementation of multiple-measure teacher evaluation systems in Arizona (REL 2015-062). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory West. A national survey of highly effective teachers found that 87 percent of respondents credited their effectiveness, in part, to feedback they received from their students; however, the survey question did not specify the manner in which feedback would be collected. Jacob, A. (2013). Perspectives of irreplaceable teachers: What America's best teachers think about teaching. The New Teacher Project. Evidence from the MET Project, a national study of measures of teacher effectiveness, reveals student surveys to be a reliable source of feedback for teachers and a predictor of student learning. Cantrell & Kane (2013), Op. cit.
  • 3.3

    Effective management and operations

    The district supports efficient daily operation of schools

    For teachers, access to basic supplies and adequate facilities can have a personal and professional impact.

    Decades of teacher surveys document the substantial amount of money that teachers spend to buy their own supplies every year.[1] Recent estimates suggest that the average teacher spends as much as $500 of their own money each year, with around 10 percent of teachers spending $1,000 or more.[2] With over 92 percent of teachers spending out of pocket on supplies,[3] district efforts to improve the availability of instructional supplies could have an effect in practically every classroom.

    Likewise, maintenance of clean, adequate facilities sends teachers and students a signal about the district's investment in student learning and contributes to a positive school climate.[4] Facility quality, as measured by teacher perception surveys, also influences student achievement, suggesting that district investments in infrastructure might make life a little easier for students and teachers alike.[5]

    1. Latham, G. I. (1993). The hidden costs of teaching. The Professional Teacher. 50(6). White, M. C. (August 3, 2016). Here's how much your kid's teacher is shelling out for school supplies. Time. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), "Public School Teacher and BIE School Teacher Data Files," 2007-08.
    2. White (2016), Op. cit.
    3. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), "Public School Teacher and BIE School Teacher Data Files," 2007-08.
    4. National School Climate Center. The 12 dimensions of school climate measured.
    5. Uline, C., & Tschannen-Moran, M. (2008). The walls speak: the interplay of quality facilities, school climate, and student achievement. Journal of Educational Administration. 46(1), pp. 55-73.
  • 3.4

    Effective management and operations

    The district facilitates high-quality school leadership

    As instructional leaders and talent managers, principals play a crucial role in shaping the work environment of a school[1] and retaining great teachers.[2] To promote high-quality leadership in each building, districts should regularly evaluate principal performance and encourage strong, stable relationships between teachers and school leaders.

    We reviewed principal evaluation frameworks to look for several features, including:

    • Annual administration of the evaluation, which should provide appropriately frequent and meaningful feedback107
    • Ties to dismissal, which teachers identify as a feature of accountability in an evaluation framework108
    • Trained staff responsible for conducting evaluations, which promotes the accuracy and usefulness of evaluations as a form of feedback109
    • Inclusion of teacher feedback, which principals and teachers both consider to be useful for school leaders110
    • Alignment with expectations set for teachers, which recognizes the direct and indirect influence principals have on teacher performance and the role principals play in helping teachers meet the expectations to which they are held111

    Together, these features should form an evaluation framework that strengthens a principal's ability to support the teaching staff. Other efforts that also help build the principal-faculty relationship include teacher input in principal hiring[3] and ongoing professional development that addresses managerial skills.[4] As an additional measure of the strength and stability of the relationship between principals and teachers, we also considered the principal retention rate for each district.

    1. Elliott, S. N., Clifford, M. (2014). Principal assessment: Leadership behaviors known to influence schools and the learning of all students. Ceedar Center. Clifford, M., Hansen, U. J., & Wraight, S. (2014). Practical guide to designing comprehensive principal evaluation systems. Center on Great Teachers & Leaders, American Institutes for Research.
    2. Ladd (2009) found teachers' perception of school leadership to be a modest predictor of a teacher's intention to leave a school. Ladd, H. (2009). Teachers' perceptions of their working conditions: How predictive of policy-relevant outcomes. National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.
    3. Clifford, M. (2012). Hiring quality school leaders: Challenges and emerging practices. American Institutes for Research.
    4. A survey of Wyoming principals found that those new to the role received "adequate" professional development related to instructional leadership and data-informed decision-making; they required additional opportunities "in the areas of communication, relationship building, and conflict resolution." Duncan, H., Range, B., & Scherz, S. (2011). From professional preparation to on-the-job development: What do beginning principals need? International Journal of Educational Leadership Preparation, 6(3).
  • 3.5

    Effective management and operations

    Teachers have ways to communicate their views to the district

    Of all the strategies districts implement to improve their policies and practices, one stands out as low cost and high reward: talking to teachers!

    Educators and policymakers have identified a number of benefits that come with seeking teacher input; the decisions that result from collaboration with the teaching staff may better account for the realities of the classroom, affect the broader culture around teaching and learning, yield greater improvements in student outcomes, and receive greater teacher buy-in.[1]

    There are a variety of ways that districts can tap into teacher insights. Surveys, for example, permit districts to gather timely input from a large number of teachers and establish priorities on the basis of concrete data. Once a district can demonstrate how those data actually influence decision making, surveys can strengthen a district's feedback culture and provide administrators with the chance to model openness to feedback.[2] To get detailed feedback from teachers with specialized knowledge or those working under specific circumstances, focus groups[3] and standing teacher advisory groups[4] provide another opportunity for administrators to better understand the teacher perspective.

    1. MetLife (2010). Survey of the American teacher.
    2. Wiener, R., & Lundy, K. (Spring 2014). Survey says: Using teacher feedback to bolster evaluation. American Educator.
    3. Achieve. (2015). Listening to teachers: Sample focus group and survey materials.
    4. Hirsh, S. (2011).Building professional development to support new student assessment systems. Learning Forward.
  • 3.6

    Effective management and operations

    Teachers feel valued by the district

    Whatever talent management strategy a district pursues, one message should remain constant: our district values teachers.

    Time and again, research has identified teachers as the single most important school-based factor in student achievement.[1] The weight of this contribution merits enthusiastic recognition from the top down and should be reflected in what district leaders say as well as the policies they enact. Indeed, school climate experts distinguish between a show of respect in the form of courteous treatment and the experience of respect that comes from being taken seriously.[2] Districts that recognize teachers' accomplishments publicly and inform teachers when they are high-performing can boost their retention of great teachers substantially.[3] 

    With that in mind, we considered whether districts (or their schools) administer surveys to gather feedback from teachers and whether teachers reported feeling valued in response to surveys and focus groups conducted as part of this initiative.

    1. Center for Public Education. (2005). Teacher quality and student achievement: Research review.
    2. Cohen, J., Cardillo, R., & Pickeral, T. (2011). Creating a climate of respect. Educational Leadership, 69(1).
    3. Jacob (2012) identified eight low-cost retention strategies that lead top-performing teachers to continue teaching in their schools; two of these strategies focus on recognition and the others address feedback and development, responsibility and advancement, and resources. Jacob, A. (2012). The irreplaceables. The New Teacher Project.
  • 4.1

    Career pathways and leadership opportunities

    Teachers have opportunities to become a leader

    One way districts demonstrate their respect for great teachers is by inviting them to share their expertise. To harness and encourage all that great teachers have to offer, districts should implement comprehensive career pathway systems that include opportunities other than careers in administration.

    A substantial body of research identifies teacher leadership as an essential component of an effective talent management strategy. A report on teacher recruitment published by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year describes teaching as a traditionally "unstaged occupation" with few opportunities for advancement; this lack of advancement poses a problem, they explain, because "opportunity for significant upward movement is, in essence, the definition of a career."[1]  Other research also highlights the shifting expectations of a younger generation of professionals focused on growing their responsibilities in the workplace.[2]

    Leadership pathways enlist teachers to meet a range of needs, including staff development, curriculum development, peer evaluation, and analysis of student data, among others.[3] Hybrid roles, in particular, appeal to many teachers who would like to divide their time between classroom instruction and other responsibilities.[4] While any leadership pathway should be established with local needs in mind, teachers' high interest in advancement opportunities and low interest in administration[5] necessitates some strategic creativity.

    1. Natale, C. F., Bassett, K., Gaddis, L., & McKinight, K. (2013). Creating sustainable teacher career pathways: A 21st century imperative. National Network of State Teachers of the Year.
    2. Behrstock, E., & Clifford, M. (2009). Leading Gen Y teachers: Emerging strategies for school leaders. National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. Coggshall, J. G., Behrstock-Sherratt, E., Drill, K. (2011). Workplaces that support high-performing teaching and learning: Insights from Generation Y teachers. American Federation of Teachers and American Institutes for Research.
    3. Natale, C. F., Gaddis, L., Bassett, K., & McKnight, K. (2016). Teacher career advancement initiatives: Lessons learned from eight case studies. National Network of State Teachers of the Year.
    4. MetLife (2012). The MetLife survey of the American teacher: Teachers, parents and the economy.
    5. MetLife (2012) found that only 16 percent of teachers were even "somewhat interested" in becoming a principal.
  • 4.2

    Career pathways and leadership opportunities

    Teachers taking on leadership roles are rewarded and supported

    While these roles should be designed to draw on the strengths of a district's best instructors, teacher leadership positions still represent a new professional challenge for those who fill them. To promote leaders' success and recognize the time and effort that goes into their work, districts should establish high-quality professional development targeted to leadership roles and compensate teacher leaders for their efforts.

    The impact of high-quality professional development for teacher leaders can reverberate across a school. Without this support, new teacher leaders may find themselves scrambling to develop key managerial skills; once off to a rocky start, they may fail to earn the respect of classroom teachers and before long, the entire career pathway framework is undermined.[1] Indeed, the teacher leader's ability to interact with teachers in a manner that is supportive and non-threatening can strongly influence the success of those relationships.[2] Districts should share responsibility for creating these positive dynamics.

    While it's not unusual for great teachers to feel a professional imperative to support their schools by assuming leadership roles, financial incentives also provide the recognition and validation that increases teachers' satisfaction with this work.[3] Other forms of support--such as additional preparation time or reduced course load--can help alleviate the time commitment required to assume a leadership position and improve a teacher leader's effectiveness.[4]

    1. Public Impact. (2015). Opportunity Culture implementation: Early lessons from the field.
    2. Firestone, W. A., & Martinez, M. C. (2007). Districts, teacher leaders, and distributed leadership: Changing instructional practice. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 6(1), pp. 3-35.
    3. In a case study that included five teacher leaders, Margolis & Deuel (2009) determined that teacher leaders are motivated by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Margolis, J., & Deuel, A. (2009). Teacher leaders in action: Motivation, morality, and money. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 8(3), pp. 264-286.
    4. Firestone & Martinez (2007), Op. cit.
  • 4.3

    Career pathways and leadership opportunities

    Selection for leadership and development opportunities is rigorous and evidence-based

    Teacher leaders often wield substantial influence in their schools; they might affect policy development, teacher evaluations, and curriculum and assessment design, all while serving as models for other teachers to emulate. Affording teacher leaders this power requires that only those who are equipped for these positions staff these roles.

    A teacher leader's capacity to contribute depends on a few factors. For instance, knowledge of teaching practices and subject matter is crucial for the leader's ability to perform as a coach and earn the trust and respect of peers.[1] Even a teacher who has a great deal of teaching experience may flounder when asked to coach a teacher in a grade or subject that's new to her.[2] Ultimately, whether selecting instructional coaches, master teachers, curriculum developers, or other teacher-experts, a district should prioritize the match between a teacher and the demands of a specific leadership role.[3]

    Because teacher leadership roles often require specialized knowledge and skills coupled with broader managerial or interpersonal skills, we credit districts that employ a selection process based at least in part on teacher evaluations and principal recommendations.

    1. Math and Science Partnership. Selecting teacher leaders. Firestone, W. A., & Martinez, M. C. (2007). Districts, teacher leaders, and distributed leadership: Changing instructional practice. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 6(1), pp. 3-35.
    2. In an analysis of teacher leaders in four schools, Firestone & Martinez (2007) discusses the case of a teacher with ten years of experience but who was new to a particular grade and subject. Despite her years of experience, her lack of familiarity with the specific subject and grade being taught made her ineffective in a leadership role. She is the least effective in the study. This finding is analogous to the challenge faced by principals, who have identified the expectation that they provide feedback across a broad range of grades and subjects as a barrier to providing detailed feedback. Kraft, M. A., & Gilmour, A. (2016). Can evaluation promote teacher development? Principals' views and experiences implementing observation and feedback cycles. Educational Administration Quarterly, 52(5), pp. 711-753.
    3. Math and Science Partnership, Op. cit.
  • 5.1

    Adequate support services for students

    District policies help teachers to support students with special academic needs (such as special education students, English Language Learners, etc.)

    Like all professionals, great teachers find fulfillment in their success.[1] However, not even the best teachers can fully address the learning needs of an increasingly diverse student population alone. To establish an environment in which teachers feel able to do their best work, districts should provide schools and teachers with the resources[2] to meet the academic needs of all learners.

    We evaluate how well districts help teachers support students with additional academic needs using two metrics: the placement of specialized personnel (such as educators trained to work with special education students or English language learners) and the availability of professional development tailored to support teachers in meeting the academic needs of specific student populations. These metrics align with teacher recommendations for creating a school environment that improves academic outcomes and reduces teacher stress.[3]

    It would be difficult to underestimate the value that teachers place on high-quality, targeted professional development.[4] High-performing teachers, in particular, view professional development as a crucial opportunity for increasing their professional capacity[5] and meeting the challenges of high-needs schools.[6] Promising early career teachers who lack this support may seek resources outside of their school—or choose to transfer or leave the profession entirely.[7]

    While professional development may help teachers build certain skills, those opportunities cannot take the place of specialized staff fully trained to support students with specific academic needs. Academic support specialists often collaborate with teachers in the classroom, provide consultation or coaching, lead interventions, or facilitate communication with families—all work that lightens the load for classroom teachers and helps them succeed as instructors.[8]

    1. In response to a large scientific survey, U.S. teachers identified "making a difference in students' lives" and "seeing students succeed academically" as the most rewarding aspects of the profession. Rentner, D. S., Kober, N., Frizzell, M., Ferguson, M. (2016). Listen to us: Teacher views and voices. Center on Education Policy. In a national survey of highly effective teachers, 55 percent of respondents ranked "being able to help students develop intellectually and academically" among the top three most important factors in their decision to continue teaching. Jacob, A. (2013). Perspectives of irreplaceable teachers: What America's best teachers think about teaching. The New Teacher Project. Boyd et al. (2005) analyzed seven years of data from New York City schools and found that teachers, especially those considered to be highly qualified, were more likely to transfer schools or leave the profession after teaching in a school with disproportionately low academic performance. Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2005). Explaining the short careers of high-achieving teachers in schools with low-performing students. AEA Papers and Proceedings, 95(2), pp. 166-171.
    2. For this metric, we consider the availability of resources in the form of personnel and professional development. Metric 3.3 considers resources in the form of basic supplies.
    3. In addition to using evidence that describes the relationship between these metrics and workplace quality, these criteria were largely developed in consultation with the National Council on Teacher Quality's Teacher Advisory Group and teacher focus groups convened for the purpose of determining the policies and practices that make a district a great place to work.
    4. Teachers unions have consistently highlighted the need for specialized professional development. In response to a non-scientific survey administered by the American Federation Teachers in 2015, 71 percent of teachers identified "adoption of new initiatives without proper training or professional development" as a "major source of stress." American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association. (2015). Quality of worklife surveyLikewise, a focus group of National Board-certified teachers recommended that leaders "prepare and support teachers for the specific challenges posed by working in high-needs schools." Berry, B., Rasberry, M., & Williams, A. (2009). Recruiting and retaining quality teachers for high-needs schools: Insights from NBCT summits and other policy initiatives. Center for Teaching Quality and the National Education Association.
    5. Rice, S. M. (2014). Working to maximise the effectiveness of a staffing mix: what holds more and less effective teachers in a school, and what drives them away? Educational Review, 66(3), pp. 311-329. Rice, S. M. (2010). Getting our best teachers into disadvantaged schools: differences in the professional and personal factors attracting more effective and less effective teachers to a school. Education Research Policy and Practice, 9, pp. 177-192.
    6. Berry et al. (2009), Op. cit.
    7. A case study of 15 novice teachers identified two patterns among high-performers in unsupportive schools; some experienced frustration and exhaustion from seeking professional resources independently, while others pursued a new position. Cochran-Smith, M., McQuillin, P., Mitchell, K., Terrell, D. G., Barnatt, J., D?Souza, L., … Gleeson, A. M. (2012). A longitudinal study of teaching practice and early career decisions: A cautionary tale. American Educational Research Journal, 49(5), pp. 844-880.
    8. Adelman, H. S., & Taylor, L. (1998). Involving teachers in collaborative efforts to better address the barriers to student learning. Preventing School Failure, 42(2). Bean, R. M., Cassidy, J., Grumet, J. E., Shelton, D. S., Wallis, S. R. (2012). What do reading specialists do? Results from a national survey. The Reading Teacher, 55(8), pp. 736-744.
  • 5.2

    Adequate support services for students

    District policies help teachers to support students with non-academic needs

    For many students, the barriers to learning exist outside the walls of the classroom. To ensure teachers can focus on teaching, rather than trying to address the myriad external challenges that affect a child's ability to learn, districts should establish a safe environment with clear behavioral expectations, provide access to professionals who can help fulfill children's non-academic needs, and bridge the divide between school and home.

    To identify great districts that meet these expectations, we reviewed evidence that:

    ●Support staff such as counselors, nurses, and clinical staff (such as school psychologists or social workers) are available;
    ●Discipline and safety policies are communicated clearly; and,
    ●Teachers are supported to communicate with families.

    It's no secret that teachers frequently find themselves wearing many hats, and not all of them pertain to instruction.[1] One national survey found that teachers routinely supported students and their families through challenging times and used their own money to feed or clothe students. Those teachers estimated that they spent 20 percent of their time addressing problems that students were having at home or outside of the classroom.[2]

    Limited student access to guidance counselors provides some explanation as to why teachers feel this additional burden,[3] but these are not the only professionals that can help fill the gap. School psychologists, for example, often work with students who have substantial needs that cannot be addressed in the classroom alone. By serving these students, school psychologists help reduce teacher stress and improve the work environment.[4] Likewise, teachers[5] and researchers[6] credit school nurses with improving student attendance and academic performance and ultimately helping them teach more effectively. Other school-based healthcare providers, such as speech pathologists, audiologists, and those providing mental and allied health services, have also had a positive impact on student behavior and achievement.[7]

    While family engagement similarly improves student attendance and achievement,[8] teachers have identified this area as a challenge in their schools.[9] To support teachers and schools to engage families, we expect districts to implement protocols and strategies for family outreach and provide teachers with related professional development.[10]

    Finally, clear expectations for student behavior and discipline help ensure that no teacher is alone in the effort to establish a safe learning environment. Therefore, we credit districts that take the lead on setting and communicating disciplinary policies for all schools.[11] 

    1. Merritt, E. G. (2016). Time for teacher learning, planning critical for school reform. Kappan Magazine, 98(4), pp. 31-36.
    2. Of 700 survey respondents, 52 percent "have helped a student and/or their family through a crisis," 54 percent "have used their own money to help feed students," and 49 percent "have helped a student get new clothing or footwear." Communities in Schools. (2015). National survey of American teachers by Communities in Schools.

    3. The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights reports that 21 percent of high schools and 5 percent of high school students do not have access to a school counselor. However, even within schools with counselors, access may remain limited. The American School Counseling Association recommends a counselor to student ratio of 250:1; nationally, however, the ratio of counselors to students is 370:1. U.S. Department of Education, office for Civil Rights. (2016). A first look: Key data highlights on equity and opportunity gaps in our nation's public schools. American School Counselor Association. ASCA National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), "Public School Data File," 2011-12.
    4. Although little research addresses the impact of school psychologists on teachers, one case study found that these professionals contribute indirectly to teacher resilience by supporting students who can be a source of teacher stress. Beltman, S., Mansfield, C. F., & Harris, A. (2016). Quietly sharing the load? The role of school psychologists in enabling teacher resilience. School Psychology International, 37(2), pp. 172-188.

    5. Biag & Landau (2015) surveyed 129 teachers in nine low-income urban schools. Teachers in schools with full-time nurses were more likely to report that the nurses improved student attendance and academic performance than teachers in a comparison group which only had access to part-time nurses. Biag, M., & Landau, M. (2015). Teachers' perceptions of full- and part-time nurses at school. The Journal of School Nursing, 31(3), pp. 183-195.

    6. Gottfried, M. A. (2013). Quantifying the consequences of missing school: Linking school nurses to student absences to standardized achievement. Teachers college Record, 115(6), pp. 1-30.
    7. Clotfelter, C. T., Hemelt, S. W., Ladd, H. F. (2016). Teaching assistants and nonteaching staff: Do they improve student outcomes? National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.
    8. Devarics, C., & O'Brien, E. (2011). Back to school: how parent involvement affects student achievement. Center for Public Education.
    9. MetLife. (2013). Survey of the American Teacher.
    10. The Harvard Family Research Project and the national Parent Teacher Association identifies a range of strategies districts may implement to improve family engagement, including the development of a district-wide infrastructure, articulation of a shared vision, and improvements in school capacity as it relates to family engagement. Westmoreland, H., Rosenberg, H. M., Lopez, M. E., & Weiss, H. (2009). Seeing is believing: Promising practices for how school districts promote family engagement.
    11. To develop fair, effective policies, districts may gather input from parents and school staff, collect data on student discipline and attendance, set goals related to disciplinary improvements. U.S. Department of Education. (2015). Rethink school discipline: School district leader summit on improving school climate and discipline, resource guide for superintendent action.