Exceptional Educators

Exceptional Educators

Teachers are the most important school factor driving student outcomes, yet they often work in systems that lack the necessary resources and support to help students unlock their potential. Our Exceptional Educators portfolio supports organizations and research that empower teachers by providing them access to evidence-based preparation, high quality instructional resources, and ongoing professional learning and leadership opportunities.

Goal
Every child has access to educators who empower them to reach their full potential

Mission
Empower teachers to become exceptional educators by supporting systems, organizations, and research that ensure all students are excited to learn at the highest levels.

By the numbers

  • 450k teachers
  • 10k schools
  • 17 states
  • ~700 districts
  • 8.2m students

Our approach

  • Scale teacher professional learning programs that increase access to high quality instructional resources and provide ongoing opportunities for leadership and development
  • Build the evidence base for practices that result in effective teacher preparation and improvement
  • Support organizations that aim to recruit high-quality, diverse candidates and retain them through evidence-based, context-aware preparation
  • Build state and district demand for high quality instructional resources and teacher professional learning

What we’ve learned

  • Teachers are the biggest within-school factor impacting student achievement (Rivkin, Hanushek, & Kain, 2005). Teacher quality variability across and within schools impacts both short and long-term outcomes, including income level as an adult (Chetty, Friedman, & Rockoff, 2014).
  • Any teacher can achieve extraordinary results. Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture, an Overdeck Family Foundation-funded initiative, found that teachers expected to perform at the 50th percentile produced student learning gains equivalent to teachers in the top quartile in math and nearly that in reading when mentored by high performing colleagues.
  • Instructional resources are the second biggest in-school factor impacting student achievement. Improving curricula is a low-cost and effective way to improve student outcomes, which is why EdReports, an Overdeck Family Foundation grantee, is working to help teachers and state and district leaders identify and demand the highest-quality instructional materials for students (Bhatt and Koedel, 2012).
  • Teacher social capital, more than teacher experience, predicts student achievement gains. Social capital, which is defined as a positive and safe school environment, a culture of high expectations, and supportive school leadership, is predictive of student achievement in math and reading (Daly et al., 2016). All Overdeck Family Foundation professional learning grantees deliberately develop teacher social capital to support ownership over instructional shifts and improve student learning.
  • Teachers of color improve student learning outcomes. Low-income black students who have at least one black teacher in elementary school are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college (Gershenson et al., 2017). Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity, an Overdeck Family Foundation grantee, is working to increase recruitment and support of teachers of color by providing high quality technical assistance to minority-serving institutions.
  • Professional learning is an effective way to improve teacher performance. Teachers in strong professional environments improved 38% more than those who were not, which is why Overdeck Family Foundation grantee Teaching Lab is focused on bringing together exceptional teacher-leaders who work collaboratively to lead teacher professional learning opportunities that improve instruction for students (Kraft and Papay, 2014). Research shows that effective professional development focuses on content, is informed by experts, allows time ( >30 hours) to learn, and includes follow-up (Yoon et al., 2007).

Sample Grantees


Rivkin, S.G., Hanushek, E.A., Kain, J.F. (2005). “Teachers, schools, and academic achievement”. Econometrica 73 (2), 417–458.

Chetty, R., Friedman, J., & Rockoff, J. (2014). Measuring the Impacts of Teachers II: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood. The American Economic Review, 104(9), 2633-2679.

Bhatt, R., & Koedel, C. (2012). Large-Scale Evaluations of Curricular Effectiveness: The Case of Elementary Mathematics in Indiana. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 34(4), 391-412.

Daly, A. J., Finnigan, K. S., Johnson, S. M., Kraft, M. A., Leana, C. R., Papay, J. P., Pil, F. K., Ronfeldt, M., & Spillane, J. P. (2016). The Social Side of Education Reform. Albert Shanker Institute.

Gershenson, S., Hart, C. M. D., Lindsay, C. A., & Papgeorge, N. W. (2017). The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers. IZA Institute of Labor Economics, (10630).

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), 476-500.

Yoon, K. S., Duncan, T., Lee, S. W., Scarloss, B., & Shapley, K.L. (2007). Reviewing the evidence on how teacher professional development affects student achievement. Issues & Answers, (33), 1-55.