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Group Seeks to Expand Top Teachers' Reach

A new project seeks to extend the number of students that the most effective teachers reach through a number of redesigns of the profession and the school schedule.

The initiative, run by the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based consulting group Public Impact, will be supported by $1 million in funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (Both organizations also provide support to Education Week.)

Public Impact will seek five "sites"—school districts, states, or charter-management organizations—to pilot new prototypes and then scale them up. The models are all fairly complex, so check out this summary of what they might look like.

One idea, for instance, is to allow those teachers who are particularly good to take on more students—perhaps 25 percent more—in exchange for higher pay. (Other classes would stay the same size.) Other ideas include a "time-technology swap" in which students have both live and digital learning; in the latter example, a teacher might have more than 30 students, but they'd be rotated in two groups, so a teacher would have a smaller group to work with at any given time.

The initiative builds on some of the themes of a report issued in 2010 by Public Impact's Bryan and Emily Hassel.That report, in essence, argued that efforts to recruit more promising teacher-candidates, dismiss low performers, and reduce turnover of effective teachers, while important, still wouldn't be enough to ensure that all students have contact with effective teachers—those who make more than a year's worth of progress with their students. The report said that models to extend the reach of the top quartile of teachers should also be considered.

The initiative will have an advisory team staffed by foundation officials, representatives from several alternative-route teaching programs, and experts on school budgeting and use of time.

The five sites will likely be selected next spring.

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