• Boston Public Schools

    Boston, MA

    • 55,843 total students

    • 4,517 total teachers

    • $52,632 teacher starting salary

    "Boston is forward-looking and committed to equity." - BPS Teacher
    Superintendent Tommy Chang said of the district, "We recruit, pay, and develop teachers like the professionals they are." Reflecting this statement, Boston Public Schools (BPS) has earned its status as a Great District for Great Teachers due to exemplary policies in three key areas:

    • Compensating teachers fairly
    • School flexibility
    • Developing pipelines and support systems for diverse teachers

    Compensation

    BPS offers its teachers an exceptional base salary, with most new teachers starting at nearly $53,000. BPS also sped up teachers' progress on the salary schedule, so teachers make it to the top by their ninth year of teaching. Depending on education, teachers can earn a salary over $100,000 in their first decade of teaching.

    As a result, BPS offers teachers the best lifetime earning potential on a traditional salary schedule of any Great District. Teachers can afford to stay in the classroom while living and raising families in Boston. These high salaries communicate the value the district places on its teachers.

    The "true change agents are our principals and our teachers, not central office," said Superintendent Tommy Chang.

    School flexibility and hiring practices

    BPS provides its schools with significant hiring flexibility. Through the district's mutual consent policies, teachers have the opportunity to find schools that match their interests and talents, while principals can still hire teachers who best meet their needs. Similarly, building-level teacher leaders are involved in the hiring processes of fellow teachers and school principals.

    According to Dr. Chang, "We hire as soon as possible. By kicking off hiring earlier, we are able to hire the best and most diverse candidates as possible."

    In fact, 42 percent of early hire teachers identify as people of color. Working to hire teachers early allows the district to more carefully vet candidates and start the school year with very few vacancies.

    Supporting teachers

    In addition to working hard to recruit diverse teachers, BPS is a standout in supporting teachers from underrepresented groups. Recognizing that its diverse students deserve access to teachers with similar heritages, BPS created the ALANA (African, Latino, Asian, and Native American) Educators Program which aims to support and retain teachers of color through monthly informative and networking gatherings. Additionally, the district created its Male Educators of Color Executive Coaching Program to encourage and assist teachers of color interested in assuming greater leadership roles throughout the district.

    "We can't fully realize the ambitious goals that we have for all our students unless every single teacher in every classroom is amazing," said Emily Kalejs Qazilbash, Assistant Superintendent for Human Capital. To that end, Boston Public Schools provides a unique interactive evaluation rubric, which provides teachers with resources and professional development opportunities aligned to the evaluation rubric. Teachers can also see video examples of teachers displaying a specific skill and see what key elements observers are looking for.

    Finally, BPS teachers report having access to professional development, and a full 80 percent of teachers report having common instructional planning time with their grade or content teams.

    If you would like to support a teacher's project in Boston Public Schools, you can donate via DonorsChoose.org. Click here to see a list of current projects.

    BPS excels on the following Great Districts criteria:

    Key staff

    • Dr. Tommy Chang

      Superintendent

    • Michael O'Neill

      Board Chairperson

  • Broward County Public Schools

    Broward County, FL

    • 271,000 total students

    • 14,975 total teachers

    • $40,724 teacher starting salary

    "Students and school districts thrive when the collective skills and talents of teachers are supported, fostered, and appreciated. The greatest gift a student can receive is to have a caring teacher in the classroom." - Robert W. Runcie, Superintendent, Broward County Public Schools

    Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is a Great District for Great Teachers that puts significant effort into helping their teachers become better and even, if they desire, to become administrators themselves. One teacher told us, "In Broward, you have training that adapts to anyone's subject area. If you want to go further, Broward offers that to teachers."

    Professional development

    BCPS' strong professional development for teachers begins right at the start of a new teacher's career. The district believes in investing in new teachers and does so by providing a strong induction and onboarding experience as well as by ensuring that new teachers receive ongoing coaching for the first few years of their career.

    Beyond the initial support it provides to new teachers, BCPS offers a wide breadth of professional development opportunities that are available to all teachers.

    BCPS sets ambitious professional learning goals for its district staff and teachers. It provides online and in-person training in most content areas. Teachers and other staff can earn district credit for courses at nearby universities. Nine out of ten teachers participate in learning communities where they collaborate together.

    The district takes significant steps to ensure that the professional development offered to teachers is aligned to the evaluation system and useful for teachers. Professional development plans for the year are developed through an examination of the current year's evaluation data. After all professional learning activities, teachers fill out feedback forms that the district uses as part of its evaluation of professional learning programs.

    Our discussions with and survey of teachers confirm a high-level of satisfaction with professional learning opportunities in BCPS, with teachers confirming that there is in-depth training available for whatever a teacher may. One teacher said, "Our professional development is very well organized and our principals are awesome leaders."

    School leadership

    According to Superintendent Robert W. Runcie, "Students have the best opportunities for reaching their highest potential when there are highly effective school leaders, great teachers, and caring staff members all working collaboratively in schools." Great teachers agree, as they consistently report that the quality of their school leaders has a dramatic effect on their success and happiness in the classroom.

    The district provides teachers with multiple pathways to become administrators. A collaboration between BCPS and local Florida Atlantic University certifies teachers to become school leaders. In addition, the district has developed or joined other leadership development programs, including the LEAD program for developing assistant principals and the Wallace Foundation's Principal Initiative. As a result of these efforts, nearly 90 percent of administrators began as teachers in the district.

    In addition, BCPS invests in leadership development with learning opportunities for new and veteran principals. For example, principals regularly meet in working groups that are led by experienced principal supervisors to collaborate and problem-solve. Teachers notice the effects, with one reporting that "BCPS hires great administrators and supports them the way they need to be...They are trained well."

    If you would like to support a teacher's project in Broward County Public Schools, you can donate via DonorsChoose.org. Click here to see a list of current projects.

    BCPS excels on the following Great Districts criteria:

    Key staff

    • Robert W. Runcie

      Superintendent

    • Abby Freedman

      Board Chair

  • Denver Public Schools

    Denver, CO

    • 72,700 total students

    • 4,746 total teachers

    • $40,289 teacher starting salary

    "We want to be the district that every teacher wants to come to in order to teach and have the opportunity to lead." - Debbie Hearty, Chief of Human Resources

    Denver Public Schools (DPS) is a progressive district with strongly developed core values that support great teachers. "The quality of our teachers is the single most important factor in the success that we have for our kids," said Superintendent Tom Boasberg.

    The district is especially strong in the following areas:

    • Teacher leadership
    • Support for principals to ensure strong school cultures


    Teacher leadership

    Making teacher talent a top priority, DPS invests in developing different pathways for people to become teachers and for teachers to become leaders. According to Boasberg, "we believe that leaders are grown, not born, so we invest in their leadership abilities."
    In 2013, DPS launched its ambitious Teacher Leadership & Collaboration (TLC) model to support its teachers. In TLC schools, teacher leaders (known as "Team Leads") spend half of their day leading a team of other teachers in the school and the remaining share of the day working directly with students. This model enables great teachers to share their experience and expertise with more students by helping their colleagues grow. Becoming a Team Lead allows great teachers to expand their influence in their school without leaving the classroom.

    Team Leads must earn effective ratings in their evaluations and demonstrate other outstanding qualifications. In return, Team Leads earn up to $5,000 above their base salaries and other incentives for working with teachers.

    The district subsidizes the schools by funding 70 percent of the Team Lead's time leading his/her team.

    Additional information on this model can be found here.

    Principal support

    Continuing with the theme of effective leadership for teachers, Denver Public Schools has invested significantly in providing principals the supports and resources they need in order to create the strong, collaborative school cultures necessary to support excellence in teaching as well as teacher voice, retention, and engagement.

    For example, DPS provides in-house pipelines for assistant principal and principal roles as well as targeted, ongoing professional development for school leaders, ranging from an external partnership with the Relay Graduate School of Education to an internal Culture, Equity & Leadership Team that helps build school leaders' capacity in fostering inclusive school cultures for students and teachers. DPS also provides leaders access to executive coaching to grow their leadership skills.

    Operationally, school leaders are provided the flexibility they need to make impactful budgetary and staffing decisions for their unique school communities. For example, school leaders can work with their teachers to decide how best to use their school's professional development dollars, whether it be by investing in district-supplied professional development or by utilizing a more specialized third-party source.

    As a result of these efforts, over 80 percent of teachers report that their principal is effective compared to only 62 percent of teachers five years ago.

    "Teachers are given options for what they teach and can use their craft and creativity to meet the standards. We are developed professionally and prioritize joy." -DPS teacher
    If you would like to support a teacher's project in Denver Public Schools, you can donate via DonorsChoose.org. Click here to see a list of current projects.

    DPS excels on the following Great Districts criteria:

    Key staff

    • Tom Boasberg

      Superintendent

    • Anne Rowe

      Board President

  • District of Columbia Public Schools

    Washington, DC

    Outstanding district

    While all the Great Districts met a high bar for supporting, rewarding, and retaining their great teachers, two districts demonstrated exceptional qualities that far exceeded our expectations. For this reason, the District of Columbia Public Schools and Gwinnett County Public Schools earned the special designation of Outstanding Great Districts for Great Teachers.

    • 48,757 total students

    • 3,719 total teachers

    • $51,539 teacher starting salary

    "I want DCPS to be known as the place that you come to become an expert teacher." - Jason Kamras, Chief of Instructional Practice
    District of Columbia Public Schools -- An Outstanding Great District:
    In the last decade, District of Columbia Public Schools has made incredibly impressive advances in its ability to recruit, retain, and develop great teachers. It has:
    • Set high salaries
    • Instituted higher pay and leadership positions for career ladder stages
    • Linked compensation to evaluations
    • Provided significantly higher bonuses to Highly Effective teachers who work in high-need schools
    • Developed robust professional learning to support teachers
    • Organized retention efforts

    High salaries

    DCPS pays all its teachers competitive salaries, with new teachers who hold a bachelor's degree earning a $51,539 base salary. Salaries increase quickly with high lifetime earnings as teachers can earn bonuses based on their effectiveness and type of school in which they work.

    D.C.'s leaders frequently voice their commitment to maintaining DCPS' great salaries. Unlike many other districts that drop pilot programs when grant funding runs out, DCPS now fully funds its exceptional compensation system from its annual budget. "We compensate really well, and as a district, we back that up with our budget," said former Interim Chancellor John Davis.

    Compensation linked to evaluation and the career ladder

    DCPS continues to serve as a national model of effective teacher evaluation and pay for performance. The district's evaluation system, known as IMPACT, requires that teachers be observed frequently. With five evaluation categories, IMPACT is able to give specific and accurate assessments of overall effectiveness and offers teachers nuanced feedback from multiple measures.

    Under DCPS' performance-based compensation system, IMPACTplus, the district pays bonuses to teachers with high IMPACT ratings. As teachers earn consecutive Highly Effective evaluation ratings, their salaries increase dramatically, allowing them to potentially earn more than $100,000 after five years.

    This compensation system is completely integrated with DCPS' Leadership Initiative for Teachers (LIFT) program. LIFT offers teachers specific leadership opportunities based on their experience and effectiveness.

    Bonuses for teachers in high-need schools

    Highly Effective teachers who work in high-poverty schools reap the greatest financial rewards. Highly Effective teachers at any stage of the LIFT ladder who work in high-poverty schools are eligible for annual bonuses of up to $25,000. As teachers in high-poverty schools advance up the LIFT ladder and consistently show their effectiveness, they have additional opportunities for salary growth.

    For example, when teachers in high poverty schools reach the "Advanced Teacher" stage, the district awards them two additional years of service credit, permanently increasing their base pay. If teachers continue to be rated Highly Effective, they can receive multiple years of service credit and advance on the salary schedule to the highest salary lane, normally limited to those with advanced degrees or decades of teaching experience. 

    Robust professional learning

    DCPS recently created a new teacher professional development program, called LEAP (LEarning together to Advance our Practice). This initiative supports teachers by helping them become truly expert in delivering Common Core aligned curriculum.

    This addresses teachers' concerns about whether they will receive the training and support needed to effectively prepare students for career and life. DCPS has created the nation's first Common Core aligned adult curriculum, utilizing school-level professional learning communities that are lead by content experts. Each week teachers go through a cycle of learning, practicing, and receiving feedback on their craft, all focused on deepening teachers' content knowledge and honing their teaching expertise. Learn more about LEAP here.

    Retention system

    Recognizing the importance of great teachers, DCPS works hard to keep them. Its Teacher Retention Team supports teachers who want to stay in the classroom by helping provide them with leadership opportunities and by guiding them to the schools that are the best fits for their goals and teaching styles.

    A Chancellor's Teacher Cabinet meets with the chancellor monthly to offer a teacher perspective on policy issues and raise teachers' concerns.

    As a result, DCPS retained 94% of its Highly Effective teachers and 89% of its Effective teachers from 2015-2016 to 2016-2017.

    Outstanding designation

    The way DCPS' policies explicitly connect teacher effectiveness and willingness to work in the neediest schools with compensation and support far exceeds what NCTQ saw in other districts. For this reason, we are awarding the D.C. Public Schools System with the designation as an Outstanding Great District for Great Teachers.

    If you would like to support a teacher's project in the District of Columbia Public Schools, you can donate via DonorsChoose.org. Click here to see a list of current projects.

    DCPS excels on the following Great Districts criteria:

    Key staff

    • Antwan Wilson

      Chancellor

    • Karen Williams

      Board President

  • Gwinnett County Public Schools

    Gwinnett County, GA

    Outstanding district

    While all the Great Districts met a high bar for supporting, rewarding, and retaining their great teachers, two districts demonstrated exceptional qualities that far exceeded our expectations. For this reason, the District of Columbia Public Schools and Gwinnett County Public Schools earned the special designation of Outstanding Great Districts for Great Teachers.

    • 178,214 total students

    • 11,311 total teachers

    • $41,849 teacher starting salary

    "Gwinnett County has made me the teacher that I am today and I am proud of the job I do. They have set me up to be a leader for my students and also with my colleagues." - GCPS Teacher
    Gwinnett County Public Schools -- An Outstanding Great District:
    Teachers are really happy to be working in Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS). In fact, more than 90 percent of the district's teachers we surveyed would recommend the district to another teacher. They cite:

    • Access to resources
    • Quality professional development
    • Strong administration and colleagues

    Support and resources

    GCPS emphasizes high expectations for its teachers but understands that in order to meet expectations, teachers need support. GCPS provides teachers with resources necessary to plan and implement instruction. These resources include both equipment for classroom instruction, including technology, and information for lesson planning. The philosophy behind this high level of support is Superintendent Wilbanks' belief that "there are two types of employees in Gwinnett -- teachers and those who support teachers"--a sentiment echoed by teachers as well.

    Professional development

    Teachers told us that GCPS has high quality professional development. The district pays to send teachers to conferences and external trainings. Moreover, principals determine how professional development money is spent, enabling them to customize training according to teacher and student needs. The district's evaluation portal, the Professional Development and Evaluation Tool, explicitly connects teacher performance evaluation to professional development. On this portal, teachers can find learning opportunities that are aligned with the evaluation rubric presented side by side with their identified areas for growth.

    Strong administration and colleagues

    GCPS also recognizes the importance of listening to the people in the classrooms. Teachers say the district returns their emails and phone calls. The Teacher Advisory Council, with a representative from every school, meets with Superintendent Wilbanks throughout the year to provide feedback on district initiatives. These meetings are also opportunities for teachers to share information that supports district improvement. Additionally, teachers serve on a curriculum committee to annually review and improve the curriculum.

    Great teachers also benefit from stable leadership. Mr. Wilbanks has served as superintendent for the district for 21 years--a much longer tenure than most large districts around the country. According to one teacher, "the stability in our leadership is one of our best features."

    Outstanding designation

    GCPS' high teacher satisfaction and enthusiasm for their district in all areas, as reflected in focus groups and survey responses, far exceeds what NCTQ saw in other districts. For this reason, we are designating the Gwinnett County Public Schools as an Outstanding Great District for Great Teachers.


    If you would like to support a teacher's project in Gwinnett County Public Schools, you can donate via DonorsChoose.org. Click here to see a list of current projects.

    GCPS excels on the following Great Districts criteria:

    Key staff

    • J. Alvin Wilbanks (left) and Robert McClure (right)

      Superintendent and Board Chair

  • New York City Department of Education

    New York, NY

    • 1,038,727 total students

    • 77,500 total teachers

    • $54,000 teacher starting salary

    "The most important thing is always what happens in the classroom." - Carmen Fariņa, Chancellor
    The New York City Department of Education (DOE) proves that district size is no barrier to becoming a Great District for Great Teachers. The DOE is the largest district in the nation, and despite its size and the multitude of district stakeholders, it successfully supports its great teachers with strong teacher leadership pathways and increased recognition.

    Teacher leadership and collaboration

    The DOE has created career pathways through which great teachers can build leadership skills and help guide other teachers to improve. The DOE offers three well-defined leadership roles to teachers: Model Teachers, Peer Collaborative Teachers, and Master Teachers. These teacher leaders sharpen other teachers' skills through peer coaching and professional collaboration.

    As teachers advance along these career pathways, they can increase their pay up to $20,000 more than their base salary.

    The district carefully screens applicants for career pathways. Teachers must have at least three years of experience, have earned a rating of Highly Effective or Effective on their annual evaluation, pass criteria jointly established by the DOE and the teachers' union, and then be chosen by their principal. They also must requalify for their teacher leadership role every two years.

    For these reasons, the DOE's teacher leadership program is among the most stable and best implemented of such programs that we reviewed. It helps increase teacher retention and collaboration while strengthening teacher practice.


    Recognition and teacher development

    This pool of strong teacher leaders helps the district's efforts to improve the city's perception of the quality of its teachers. Other components of this strategy include increasing teacher professional development time by 80 minutes a week, celebrating rigorously selected great teachers as Big Apple Award winners, and working to ensure that the community recognizes teaching as, in Chancellor Fariņa's words, an "intellectual endeavor" that is both well-rewarded and well-respected.

    "Everywhere I go, I encourage young people to become teachers. Everything's happening in the classroom, and teachers have a life-changing impact on students and families." - Chancellor Fariņa

    Teacher development is a key lever in the success of New York City's Equity & Excellence for All agenda. The eight new Equity and Excellence for All initiatives offer teachers an opportunity to grow and take on additional challenges.

    If you would like to support a teacher's project in New York City public schools, you can donate via DonorsChoose.org. Click here to see a list of current projects.

    NYC DOE excels on the following Great Districts criteria:

    Key staff

    • Carmen Fariņa

      Chancellor

  • Pinellas County Schools

    Pinellas County, FL

    • 103,779 total students

    • 7,578 total teachers

    • $41,155 teacher starting salary

    "The area we want to be great in--the heart of our business--is honoring and promoting great teachers." - Dr. Michael Grego, Superintendent
    Pinellas County Schools (PCS) performed consistently well across most of the criteria for Great Districts for Great Teachers. It earned especially high marks in the quality of professional development and support services. Nine out of ten teachers we surveyed throughout the district reported that they would recommend working in Pinellas to another teacher.

    Professional development

    Teachers demonstrated a high level of satisfaction with professional development. Pinellas County Schools provides teachers with a range of different training opportunities and, whenever possible, pays teacher to participate in professional development. The Deliberate Practice Plan links professional development to the teacher's individual evaluation performance. The Deliberate Practice Plan is designed to help the teacher to continuously grow and refine their craft and skills. The district uses the Professional Learning Network as a platform for teachers to register and manage their professional growth, which could include observing colleagues demonstrating best practices. In addition, PCS utilizes Professional Learning Communities to implement lesson study. In lesson study, teachers collaboratively develop a lesson and determine the best way to teach it.

    According to one teacher we interviewed, "The amount of meaningful professional development offered is phenomenal. Typically a stipend is available for professional development that occurs on non-contract time. Professional development is aligned to the evaluation system and professional development with multiple sessions usually elicits feedback from participants which guides future sessions."



    Support for new teachers

    PCS is also a standout in offering support for new teachers. The district's induction training lasts longer than the minimum required by the state, and the district provides all first year teachers with a trained mentor who has the flexibility to meet with them at least once a week for up to three years. Schools give mentor teachers release time to observe new teachers, co-teach if appropriate, and provide ongoing feedback to their mentees.

    In addition, administrators frequently observe new teachers, with the first required observation due within 60 days of the start of the school. This is exceedingly important as new teachers need to be observed early and often in order to have the chance to improve.

    Resources

    Pinellas County Schools also scored highly in making resources available for teachers to use with students, something we know is important to great teachers. Teachers told us that the district provides resources and materials to help them in their classroom, particularly supporting them to better teach students with disabilities, respond to students' social and emotional needs, and engage with students' families.

    If you would like to support a teacher's project in Pinellas County Schools, you can donate via DonorsChoose.org. Click here to see a list of current projects.

    PCS excels on the following Great Districts criteria:

    Key staff

    • Michael Grego

      Superintendent

    • Peggy O'Shea

      Board Chairperson

  • Pittsburgh Public Schools

    Pittsburgh, PA

    • 24,438 total students

    • 1,919 total teachers

    • $40,000 teacher starting salary

    "Pittsburgh Public Schools is working to build a culture where recognition of great teaching is the norm and teachers have the support they need to be their best." - Tara Tucci, Director, Performance Management Systems
    Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) is a Great District for Great Teachers because of its emphasis on showing teachers that they are valued.

    The benefits of teachers using positive reinforcement with students is well known, yet too often, school district leaders rarely apply this same powerful technique on teachers. Pittsburgh is an exception, with systems in place to elevate and empower teachers throughout the district. Specifically it:

    • Provides career and leadership pathways
    • Offers accelerated earning potential for high performing educators
    • Acknowledges that teachers need feedback and coaching to continue growing, as well as recognition for a job well done

    Career and leadership pathways

    PPS has one of the strongest career and leadership pathways among the districts we reviewed. There are multiple, clearly defined leadership opportunities that allow great teachers to expand their reach to more students. For example, Learning Environment Specialists support their peers in creating both school and classroom environments that support teaching and learning.

    The selection process for these teacher leadership opportunities, called Career Ladder roles, is rigorous. Only teachers with a history of strong performance are considered, and they must interview successfully for the position. Teachers receive up to $9,300 in additional compensation for taking on additional responsibilities through these Career Ladder positions.

    PPS "recognizes that teachers are the experts. Providing opportunities for them to share their expertise beyond the students in their classroom will maximize their impact throughout the district," said Brian Glickman, Director of Talent Management.


    Accelerated earning potential

    The Career Ladder Salary Schedule enables teachers the ability to not only advance their salaries through years of experience, but also through high performance. A novice teacher who consistently performs at the highest level can earn a salary of over $100,000 in just 10 years.

    In addition, teachers are eligible for school-based and team-based bonus awards on top of their base earnings. These programs serve to recognize and reward educators who achieve extraordinary results for PPS students, based specifically on student growth.

    Feedback, coaching, and recognition

    PPS has developed strong feedback mechanisms to support their teachers. "Teachers are constantly working to do their best on behalf of their students. PPS began this effort when we heard from teachers that they weren't receiving the type of feedback they needed in order to grow their practice through the traditional processes," said Tucci.

    Offering more than just a rating, the teacher growth and evaluation system provides teachers with many opportunities to receive meaningful feedback on their practice, the impact they're making on student learning and growth, and students' classroom experience. As a result, 80 percent of teachers in PPS believe they receive feedback that helps them improve their teaching, according to the 2015 administration of the district's teacher survey.

    In addition to receiving feedback about areas of growth, PPS teachers are recognized for their strengths through letters from the superintendent, shout-outs in the monthly newsletter, and kudos notes that teachers send each other.

    The district hopes that these efforts will help to maintain the already strong retention rates they see among their most effective teachers. Dr. Milton Walters, the district's Chief Human Resources Officer, added, "when you come to teach in Pittsburgh we want you to stay, grow, and continue to positively impact students year after year."

    Conclusion

    Reflecting on its designation, PPS Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet noted, "While we are excited to be recognized as a Great District for Great teachers, we also know that there is still much work to be done in order to meet our goals for students." PPS is open about the areas in which it still has room to improve as a district. Even in this regard they demonstrate why they are a Great District for Great Teachers, by allowing teachers to have a seat at the table in creating the structures that support great teachers. Additionally, the district works with teachers to continuously improve the structures already in place. One teacher summed up the experience of working in the district: 

    "I'm proud to be a PPS teacher. I wouldn't work anywhere else."

    If you would like to support a teacher's project in Pittsburgh Public Schools, you can donate via DonorsChoose.org. Click here to see a list of current projects.

    PPS excels on the following Great Districts criteria:

    Key staff

    • Dr. Anthony Hamlet

      Superintendent

    • Dr. Regina Holley

      Board President