Exceptional Educators

Exceptional Educators

The Challenge

Teachers and leaders matter. A lot.

In fact, a great teacher is life-altering. Research consistently shows that teachers are the number one school-based factor in student achievement and lifetime earnings. In just three years, a great teacher can create student achievement gains up to 50 percentile points, which is enough to close the achievement gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers[i] and have meaningful impact on the students’ future incomes[ii]. And, these gains accumulate over time: 70% of the annual gains facilitated by effective teaching are retained in the long run by the student and the gains are compounded by subsequent effective teachers[iii]. These gains can dramatically change the path a student’s life and fill the future with possibility.

Indeed, there are several challenges holding our country back from guaranteeing a world-class education for all kids:

  • Education lacks the prestige and competitive salaries of other professions, so only 23% of teachers come from the top third of college graduates[iv].
  • Teacher and leader preparation programs emphasize theory over practice and have little accountability for results[v], which leaves most new teachers feeling unprepared for teaching[vi].
  • As many as 50% of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years[vii], creating a constant influx of inexperienced teachers[viii].
  • Most professional development is delivered as one-time workshops that do not change teacher practice or improve student outcomes[ix].
  • Strong curricular materials improve student learning, even when results are adjusted for ethnicity and socioeconomic status[x]. In fact, curricular materials rival teacher effectiveness in potential impact[xi].

2015 Strategy

Here at Overdeck Family Foundation, we strive to ensure that all students have a great teacher leading their classroom and a great principal leading their school. We are still learning what it will take to make this happen, and we are determined to find out.

  • Our goal is to increase the number of teachers who are truly prepared for the first day in the classroom, so that they begin their career as an effective teacher from Day 1—and also are more likely to stay engaged in teaching for many years, as a result of better preparation and development.
    • Our core strategy focuses on identifying, supporting, and expanding best practices in teacher preparation.  We support proof points of strong teacher prep and are interested in research that explores the question:  “What is great teacher preparation?  What are the characteristics of a strong teacher prep program?”
    • We also support recruitment and in-service professional development of teachers. We are interested in supporting recruitment efforts that expand the pipeline of teacher candidates, bringing in new candidates who may not have initially considered teaching.  We are also interested in effective in-service development, particularly scalable, practice-based models of coaching and support.

Organizations We Support