education policy

Federal Policy for Opportunity Anew

By Public Impact, March 11, 2021

In the wake of Covid-19, the U.S. pre-K–12 education system needs more than a refresh. We need to think anew. In a new Public Impact brief, we recommend the means through federal policy to bring critical, effective instructional and emotional supports to millions of teachers and their students—for a price tag the country can not only afford, but sustain long-term.

We base our recommendations on lessons learned through our national Opportunity Culture initiative, in dozens of districts, with thousands of educators, for nearly 85,000 students this year alone. Read more…

2019: Opportunity Culture® Continues to Grow, Inspire

By Margaret High, December 20, 2019

Opportunity Culture kept growing in 2019 to bring excellent teaching to students and career opportunities to educators. Our 10 most-read posts in 2019 included educator columns, new districts, the hot topic of the science of reading, teaching residencies, and more. Read more…

With Leandro Report, Hope for North Carolina’s Students

By Public Impact, December 11, 2019

As educators, legislators, business leaders, and others gathered for a summit on building a sorely needed pipeline of teachers of color for North Carolina, the long-awaited Leandro report hit the wires. Ordered by Judge David Lee, the report from WestEd spells out how the state can meet its constitutional obligation to provide a “sound, basic” education for every North Carolina child.

At Public Impact, we’re grateful for the work of so many who got the case to this point: for the judges who kept pressing to meet students’ needs; the lawyers and many state and local leaders who, often behind the scenes, fought for justice through this case; the numerous researchers who dug deep to find the best solutions; and the educators included in their research.

To Support Teachers and Students, Pass House Bill 1008

By Jessica Smith, May 30, 2019

“We need House Bill 1008 to pass in this legislative session, to give more districts and schools support to put Multi-Classroom Leadership in place and to expand it to more schools.” This column is adapted from the remarks made by Multi-Classroom Leader Jessica Smith before the Indiana Senate Committee on Education and Career Development. Ultimately, the legislation passed, providing $3.5 million for up to 30 districts to plan career ladders that may include Opportunity Culture. Read more…

Opportunity Culture® Lessons from the First Two Years

By Bryan C. Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel

In our companion post, Opportunity Culture Outcomes: The First Two Years, we shared student, teacher, and design outcomes from the first two years of Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture initiative, which so far has affected more than 30 schools, 450 teachers, and 16,000 students.

The outcomes are promising—better student growth, higher pay, strong teacher satisfaction. However, some pioneering districts, schools, and teachers achieved better, faster results than others. Strengths and challenges varied across sites. Learning from these differences fast is crucial to improved outcomes as more schools and districts create their own Opportunity Cultures, extending the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to many more students, for much higher pay, within regular budgets.

These lessons we drew from these early years are based on data we collected and feedback from Opportunity Culture schools and districts, including teachers, principals, and district administrators. Implementation teams from Public Impact or its partners Education First and Education Resource Strategies solicited feedback using “exit slips” after every decision-making meeting with school and district design teams. We conducted interviews with staff and administrators at the school and district level. Implementation teams scheduled regular calls and made site visits eight to 10 times a year, during which we collected feedback and recorded our observations. With that and other data, we created the Opportunity Culture Dashboard, which contains indicators of implementation effectiveness, including student learning outcomes and teacher and staff perceptions from anonymous surveys.

Many of these lessons are no surprise—and yet still a challenge to get right. Some are a challenge only because the people who have power to change them must act with commitment and decisiveness—and the temptations to do otherwise are overwhelming.

Lesson 1: Address Necessary State and District Policy Barriers. Districts and states must identify and address Opportunity Culture (OC) policy barriers before the design process begins, and review annually at midyear in preparation for the next year.

Lesson 2: Establish District Support for Schools’ OC Implementation. District leaders must provide timely technical assistance, tools, decision-making power, and transitional support for small, temporary financial shortfalls for school models within Opportunity Culture Principles.

Lesson 3: Support Strong School Leadership for OC Implementation. Principals need training and support to lead a team of teacher-leaders and other teachers who extend their reach, and they need paid career advancement options that let them remain directly responsible for student outcomes.

Lesson 4: Build and Support Effective Design Teams. Form district and school design teams with clear goals, roles, and decision-making power, staffed with individuals committed to OC Principles; top district leaders must maintain direction and support to implement and scale up the Opportunity Culture designs.

Lesson 5: Create Complete School Design Plans. School designs should include long-term and next-year detail about roles, financial sustainability, technology, schedules, and how teachers will work together.

Lesson 6: Clarify MCL Roles and Build Teaching Team Leadership. Multi-classroom leaders (MCLs)—essential in schools that want to reach all or nearly all students with excellent teachers—need clear roles, advance training, ongoing coaching in leadership and management skills, and protected time to plan and lead.

Lesson 7: Build Schedules that Let Teams Collaborate. Schedule and protect additional in-school time for OC teachers to plan, alone and as a team; review student work; and improve together during the school year.

Lesson 8: Hire Early and Be Selective. Recruit early, advertise widely using multiple methods, make links to Opportunity Culture job openings obvious on the district’s website, and use the materials on to recruit and be selective among candidates.

Lesson 9: Give Everyone the Right Data to Improve. Interim and annual data should be collected and reported to match OC roles, to help teachers improve during the school year and help principals lead well; consistent interim assessments would help OC teachers.

Op-Ed: N.C. Must Invest to Magnify Great Teachers’ Impact

“North Carolina will never make the educational strides it needs until the best educators have far greater impact for a lot more pay,” say Public Impact’s co-directors in an op-ed in Saturday’s Raleigh News and Observer.

Noting that the state’s General Assembly “rightfully added 6 percent focused primarily on early-career teachers’ base pay,” Bryan C. Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel point out that other states also increased salaries for teachers, and likely will again. So, they say, state leaders must complete the 10 percent average raise, and then some, just to stay on par in the region.

“Meanwhile, the pay gap with neighboring states yawns wider for experienced teachers,” the Hassels write. “Most importantly, base pay bumps for early-career teachers don’t empower or entice excellent teachers, many of whom are veterans, to lead from the classroom – reaching more students and helping peers excel.”

But North Carolina could change that, and lead the region in the process. They write:

Opportunity Culture® in the News: How to Transform Education

How can state and district leaders transform education by extending the reach of great teachers and their teams to many more students, for more pay, within budget? Read our latest thoughts this week:

  • On, Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan C. Hassel exhort North Carolina’s leaders to focus on the destination–giving all students access to excellent teaching, consistently–and set the guideposts districts need to get there. “State leaders can transform North Carolina by funding a diverse set of districts to design financially sustainable, scalable advanced pay systems that reward excellent teachers for reach and leadership,” write the Hassels, co-directors of Public Impact and founders of the Opportunity Culture initiative.
  • On, the Hassels write about the challenges–and a possible solution–to the need for great school leaders at a time when schools must achieve deeper learning, not just learning basic skills. They call for a new model–one that combines Multi-Classroom Leadership with multi-school leadership.
  • And highlights our video about the Opportunity Culture choices of Ranson IB Middle and Ashley Park PreK-8 in Charlotte.

Coming Monday: All about our latest Opportunity Culture video!

State Leaders: Set These Policies to Enable an Opportunity Culture®

What students want--great teachers every year--and what teachers want--career advancement without leaving teaching, on-the-job professional learning and collaboration, and the chance to help more students succeed--come together in an Opportunity Culture®. What's the...

N&O Editor Calls Opportunity Culture® Solution a “Symphony”

Calling school models in an Opportunity Culture a simple, harmonious solution, Editorial Page Editor of The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer highlighted the work of Public Impact and Co-Directors Bryan and EmilyAyscue Hassel in his column yesterday.

In Let NC’s top teachers teach—and earn—more, Barnett said:

“With all the angst and alarm over the General Assembly’s approach to K-12 education, hearing Bryan Hassel talk about how to create more effective schools is like listening to a symphony. He has a solution. It’s simple and harmonious and won’t cost more than we should be spending anyway.

Embracing the Opportunity Culture concept—which extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within regular budgets—Barnett noted:

“The Hassels’ approach would not be cheap at first for North Carolina. They say the state needs to raise its average teacher pay 10 percent or more to reverse the backsliding that has sent the average pay sliding to 48th in the nation. But after that, schools could reallocate funds between extra support staff and great teachers teaching more students without increasing school district budgets.

Compare the teacher response to the Charlotte experiment with the statewide situation in North Carolina. While teacher applications piled up for the Charlotte pilot schools, low pay and low morale statewide are fueling an exodus and a looming teacher shortage.”

As North Carolina grapples with this, the governor has proposed sustainable career pathways that districts and their teachers can design. The Senate proposed large average base pay increases. We at Public Impact hope that now the state House, Senate, and governor can work together to bring both of these to reality, and fund education at a level that lets North Carolina ensure a competitive workforce and robust economy.

As Barnett concluded:

“The General Assembly and the governor are responding by offering a boost in pay. Hassel says that helps, but it’s only paying good and bad teachers more to do the same job. What should happen is more pay for good teachers and a winnowing of low performers.

In addition, Bryan Hassel says, the state should be adding teacher assistants, not cutting them by half as proposed in the state Senate’s budget. The teaching profession is virtually alone, he notes, in asking teachers to work in isolation doing many tasks involving a range of skills. Why have great teachers sidelined to tend to sick or unruly students or to monitor cafeterias and bus lines?

North Carolina is in an educational crisis and if it continues the state will lose many excellent teachers. It’s time to support top teachers by making a substantial change in how they are employed and what they can earn.”