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Learning Forward Merges With the National Commission on Teaching

Two nonprofits that focus on supporting the teaching profession, Learning Forward and the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, are merging into one organization.

The two groups will operate as Learning Forward going forward. NCTAF's president Melinda George will now be the director of policy, advocacy, and partnerships at Learning Forward, which is based in Dallas. NCTAF is based in Arlington, Va., and its staff members will continue to stay in the Washington area to lead the group's policy and advocacy efforts. 

The groups, which have partnered together often in the past, "have an aligned mission and goals," George said in a statement. "Today's announcement marks a natural progression in our work together to combine staff, resources, and experience to advance our shared agenda. We are ready to advocate for systems that put great teaching and learning at the center of an exciting, forward-thinking education agenda." 

Learning Forward, a professional association for educators with more than 10,000 members, is focused on helping states and school systems plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning—via the group's Standards for Professional Learning. The association also has a blog on Education Week Teacher called "Learning Forward's PD Watch: Professional Learning for Student Success." (Learning Forward was formerly known as the National Staff Development Council.) 

NCTAF is a bipartisan commission focused on research and recommendations to improve the teaching profession—particularly by focusing on recruiting, developing, and retaining quality educators. In 1996, NCTAF published a groundbreaking report called "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future." That report pushed teaching to the forefront of the education-policy landscape by calling for education leaders and policymakers to revamp teacher-preparation programs, develop higher standards for licensing and continuing development, and create and fund mentoring programs for new teachers, among other initiatives. 

Just last year, NCTAF released a follow-up report called "What Matters Now: A Call to Action," which said that in the last 20 years, there has been "significant but uneven progress" in improving the teaching profession through these recommendations. The commission urged more systemic change, recommending several additional policy recommendations that build upon the original report, like more clinically based teacher preparation, established indicators of school success for states to track, and more teacher-led professional development.

Now, with the merger, Learning Forward will work to implement the commission's recommendations from the report through its state and district networks. It will also focus on Learning Forward's existing efforts to redesign professional development systems. 

"Together, Learning Forward and NCTAF will continue to be laser-focused on supporting the teaching profession, rethinking professional learning, and ensuring all students have access to great teaching and learning," said Stephanie Hirsh, the executive director of Learning Forward, in a statement.

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