Increasing the retention of expert educators in K-9.Learn More
Our goal: Increase the retention of effective educators in K-9 so that more children have access to teachers who empower them to reach their full potential.
Too many students will not experience the needed concentration of expert educators who are able to provide the rigorous, on grade-level instruction needed to help close academic gaps.
We know teachers are the most important school factor driving student outcomes. Yet they often work in systems that lack the resources needed to help them unlock student academic achievement and foster a sense of belonging and engagement in their classrooms. Our Exceptional Educators portfolio seeks to improve the teacher experience by funding direct impact and ecosystem grantees that provide K-9 teachers access to high-quality professional development, evidence-based instructional materials and tools, and innovative staffing models that have been shown to improve teacher efficacy and student outcomes.
Teachers are the biggest within-school factor impacting student achievement, but they have faced mounting pressures, leading to increased burnout.
Research shows that teachers are the most important factor in a student’s education, and teacher quality and variability across and within schools impacts both short and long-term outcomes, including income level as an adult. But the effects of COVID, including supporting students’ socioemotional wellbeing, addressing learning loss, and taking on extra work because of staffing shortages—all while navigating shifting local and state policies—have led to increased stress among teachers. According to one RAND study, approximately 60 percent of teachers report that they are burnt out.
Staffing shortages impact both students and teacher professional development opportunities.
Though more localized than national, staffing shortages have negatively affected educators and the students who are already furthest behind. More than a quarter of educators stated that their schools needed to cancel or reschedule professional development provided by outside external vendors because they couldn’t find enough substitute teachers, and one out of two school leaders say their stress level is so high that they’re considering leaving the profession. Overdeck Family Foundation grantees such as Instruction Partners are providing targeted capacity-building supports and direct-to-teacher activities to meet the needs of educators during this challenging time—particularly new leaders who need increased support.
High-quality instructional materials, and educators’ ability to use them, remain critically important to student achievement.
Instructional resources are the second biggest in-school factor impacting student achievement. Yet we know that not enough students have access to the high-quality instructional materials that would support their learning: only one-quarter of teachers reported using fully-aligned ELA materials at the elementary level, and one-third reported doing so at the middle school level. Additionally, the current fragmentation of data sources in school districts means that there is no one way for teachers to know what is working and how they can best support student learning. This also makes it more difficult for leaders to support teachers in their practices or in their staffing.
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. Next Education Workforce at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, another Overdeck Family Foundation grantee that focuses on team-based staffing strategies, found that 75 percent of team-based teachers report being satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs, compared to 66 percent in non-team-based models.
Technology and virtual delivery options continue to be valuable for educators, students, and families.
Eighty-five percent of teachers report that tech tools will play a bigger role in the current school year than they did prior to the pandemic, and almost half of teachers and 42 percent of parents support online learning for instruction at times when school cannot be open in person. Recently, virtual delivery of professional learning has played a key role in grantees growing their impact and reach. Approximately 85 percent of Teaching Lab’s participants reported satisfaction with the overall quality of their virtual professional learning courses, with 87 percent reporting that they would apply what they learned. Additionally, New Leaders’ fully virtual Learning Hub platform received increased participant satisfaction from 79 percent to 94 percent.
Learn more about some of the work funded by the Exceptional Educators portfolio.
Expanding the evidence base of high-quality instructional materials.
Partnering with system and school leaders to make professional learning more actionable and relevant.
Next Education Workforce
Reimagining the teaching profession to increase educator satisfaction and retention.
Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture
Scaling an innovative professional learning and staffing model across America’s public schools.
Empowering teachers to drive their own high-impact professional learning, in a format that suits them best.
Expand Student Access To High-Quality Instructional Materials
Ensure all students have access to high-quality instructional materials and teachers who are trained in their use.
Increase Educator Use of Data Tools
Spur the innovation, research, and scale of data tools that provide school leaders and teachers with real-time information designed to proactively improve student learning.
Amplify Differentiated Staffing Models
Identify and scale differentiated staffing models that retain and reward the most effective teachers, promote diversity, and differentiate teacher roles based on their strengths and student needs.
What are the most effective ways to ensure that teachers are using high-quality instructional materials with all students, and what role do leaders play in ensuring the effective implementation of high-quality instructional materials?
How does leader and teacher awareness of learning acceleration using high-quality instructional materials impact practice?
How can differentiated staffing in schools help retain the most effective teachers and drive student learning, and what do leaders need to be successful in implementation?
What are the biggest roadblocks to differentiated staffing implementation and scaling of these models?