For several years, we’ve been asking teachers and districts to imagine: Imagine schools and a profession where all teachers can improve their teaching, be rewarded for getting better, and reach more students with excellent instruction—by creating an Opportunity Culture for teachers and students. Districts are responding: As of spring 2014, four districts nationally are piloting Opportunity Culture models, and one, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, is taking its pilot efforts to scale based on recruiting results and demand from schools.
But what if a whole state reimagined the teaching profession and pursued an Opportunity Culture for all? What benefits might accrue for students, teachers and the state as a whole?
Using North Carolina as an example for analysis, Public Impact ran the numbers—and the results weren’t small.
Opportunity Culture models redesign jobs to extend the reach of excellent teachers to more students, for more pay, within budget—typically in collaborative teams on which all teachers can pursue instructional excellence together and are formally accountable for all of the students they serve. They are designed to transform the traditional teaching environment and provide new career paths for teachers that allow them to advance their careers without leaving the classroom.
If three-fourths of North Carolina’s classrooms were to implement Opportunity Culture models over one generation of students—about 16 years of implementation—we projected, using conservative assumptions, that:
- Students on average would gain 3.4 more years’ worth of learning than in a traditional school model in the K–12 years.
- Teachers leading teams would earn up to $848,000 more in a 35-year career, with considerably higher figures possible for large-span teacher-leader roles not included in this analysis.
- Teachers joining teams to extend their reach could earn approximately an additional $240,000 over their careers.
- State income tax revenue would be up to $700 million higher in present-value terms over 16 years of implementation; increased corporate and sales tax revenues are not included.
- State domestic product would increase by $4.6 billion to $7.7 billion in present-value terms over the next 16 years.
And that’s just using current numbers for North Carolina, where pay is near the bottom nationally. Teachers leading teams in states with pay closer to the national average would earn up to $1 million more in a 35-year career. (Public Impact has separately suggested that a 10 percent average base pay increase is also needed for teachers in North Carolina.)