Georgia Schools Join Movement to Extend Great Teachers’ Reach

Opportunity Culture Comes to
Fulton County Schools 

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What Could You Do in an Opportunity Culture? (2016)

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The Whole Package: 12 Factors of High-Impact Teacher-Leader Roles

An Opportunity Culture for Teaching and Learning: Introduction

Publications in the Opportunity Culture series were made possible in part by support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Joyce Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Additional support is listed in each publication. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of Public Impact.

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Middle school, high school launch designs to rapidly improve student achievement  

Georgia’s Fulton County Schools district has joined the national Opportunity Culture initiative to extend the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within recurring budgets. In 2015–16, Benjamin E. Banneker High School and Woodland Middle School, on the south side of Atlanta, are the district’s first to design Opportunity Culture plans for 2016–17 implementation. Both schools are part of Fulton County’s achievement zone, created in 2015 to focus on the traditionally struggling high school and its feeder schools. The zone aims to rapidly improve academic outcomes for its students.

Fulton County Schools, which sandwiches the separate school district for the city of Atlanta, includes the cities of Alpharetta, Roswell, and Sandy Springs on Atlanta’s north side, and Chattahoochee Hills, College Park, and Union City to the south. The district serves more than 95,000 students.

In Opportunity Culture models, a team of teachers and administrators at each school chooses among models that use job redesign and age-appropriate technology to reach more students with personalized, high-standards instruction—one hallmark of great teachers. School teams redesign schedules to provide additional school-day time for teacher planning and collaboration, typically with teacher-leaders leading teams and providing frequent, on-the-job development.

The school design teams reallocate school budgets to fund pay supplements permanently, in contrast to temporarily grant-funded programs. Schools in eight districts in six states nationwide are designing or implementing Opportunity Culture models. Pay supplements are as high as 50 percent, and an average of about 20 percent, of average teacher salaries.

“To dramatically change outcomes for students, we need to put our most effective teachers in front of the students who need them the most, and build opportunities for our most effective teachers to be leaders among their peers,” said Dara Jones-Wilson, executive director of the South Learning Community, in which the schools are located. “Teachers want leaders and coaches who are in the trenches with them and understand this work firsthand.”

Public Impact, which designed the Opportunity Culture model prototypes, is assisting Fulton County in planning its school designs and implementation, supported by a grant from the Dobbs Foundation, based in Atlanta. The grant supports only the transition work; higher teacher pay will be sustainably funded within existing school budgets.  

See the full press release here.

Public Impact's mission is to dramatically improve learning outcomes for all children in the U.S., with a special focus on students who are not served well. We are a team of professionals from many backgrounds, including former teachers. We are researchers, thought leaders, policy experts, tool-builders, and on-the-ground consultants who work with leading education reformers.
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