Teachers are the biggest within-school factor impacting student achievement.
Professional learning is an effective way to improve teacher performance, especially when it includes a focus on leadership-enabled collaborative learning and high-quality instructional material.
Teachers in strong professional environments improved 38% more than those who were not (Kraft and Papay, 2014), although teacher effectiveness may show up differently in an online setting. Leading Educators and other professional learning grantees in the portfolio shifted away from traditional teacher effectiveness observation measures (i.e. IPG) to accommodate the realities of teaching practice online and in hybrid settings. Along with Teaching Lab, Instruction Partners, and TNTP, these organizations formed the Research Partnership for Professional Learning (RPPL) in summer 2020 to better understand how high-impact professional learning can be scaled and adjusted for the current teaching environment.
In the right roles and in supportive environments, teachers can achieve extraordinary results.
Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture, an Overdeck Family Foundation-funded initiative, found that teachers previously performing on average at the 50th percentile produced student learning gains equivalent to teachers in the top quartile in math and nearly that in reading when placed on teams led by multi-classroom leaders with a record of high student learning growth (Backes and Hansen, 2018).
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). Overdeck Family Foundation professional learning grantees deliberately develop teacher social capital to support ownership over instructional shifts and improve student learning.
Demand for professional learning remains high during the pandemic.
Our grantees continue to see demand for their services from states and districts through expanding and new partnerships. And while some aspects of programming will have to change, virtual delivery of professional learning may present an increased opportunity for scale. For example, Teaching Lab launched a virtual learning management system in summer 2020 to respond to the demand for virtual professional learning. Additionally, changing teaching models may require rethinking how professional learning can support innovative staffing practices; we are currently exploring this innovation with our grantees Education Resource Strategies (ERS) and FutureEd.
High-quality instructional materials remain critically important to student achievement, and provided important support in the rapid transition to online learning.
Instructional resources are the second biggest in-school factor impacting student achievement (Bhatt and Koedel, 2012), and high-quality materials became even more important when schools transitioned to hybrid and distance learning. The Return report (published by grantee Chiefs for Change in May 2020) recommended basing all learning on high-quality instructional materials and grantee EdReports reiterated that high-quality instructional materials would be key to addressing COVID-created gaps and accelerating learning to address unfinished learning.
School leadership is a necessary condition for effective instruction.
School leadership plays a key role in building the alignment and coherence that allows professional learning to have a bigger impact on student learning. Existing Overdeck Family Foundation grantees have deepened their focus on building strong leadership, systems, and structures to ensure that professional learning can have a longer lasting impact on student learning. COVID reopening toolkits and resources from grantees including Instruction Partners, New Leaders, and Public Impact have a deep focus on supporting school leaders as critical levers to school reopening plans, and New Leaders, CLEE, Instruction Partners, Leading Educators, and Public Impact all have rubrics that identify leading indicators of success that rely on conditions in schools.
Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture
Scaling an innovative professional learning and staffing model across America’s public schools.
Alder Graduate School of Education
Expanding the teacher pipeline and increasing teacher effectiveness through residency models.
Expanding the evidence base of high-quality instructional materials.
Support School Leadership
Support school leaders who improve school culture, develop their educator staff, and set and uphold an instructional vision that uses high-quality instructional materials.
Improve Professional Learning
Scale the use of high-quality, sustainable, and cost-effective in-service professional learning that aligns to high-quality instructional materials.
Build an evidence base through ongoing validation, field building, and knowledge generation that increases policies and practices that enable more effective school leadership and teacher professional learning.
What are the most impactful school leadership practices for school culture, teacher practice, and student learning?
What are the most influential factors in the effectiveness of professional learning?
How important are high-quality instructional materials for students in a hybrid learning model?
What are the most effective innovative staffing practices and how do they impact student outcomes?