Eight Districts Win First-Ever Great Districts for Great Teachers Initiative; School Districts Proved Greatness Through 18-Month Evaluation

Winners Chosen for Practices that Support & Encourage Great Teachers;
Great Districts Will Serve as Models for Others

Austin,TX — Eight school districts just became the nation’s first-ever Great Districts for Great Teachers. This new honor, developed by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), recognizes districts for their exceptional programs and policies on recruiting, encouraging, supporting, and retaining great teachers. These winners are:

  • Boston Public Schools
  • Broward County Public Schools (Florida)
  • Denver Public Schools
  • District of Columbia Public Schools
  • Gwinnett County Public Schools (Georgia)
  • New York City Department of Education
  • Pinellas County Schools (Florida)
  • Pittsburgh Public Schools
These eight Great Districts have proven themselves national leaders in developing great teachers, so that they, in turn, can deliver great instruction to their students. NCTQ declared two of these districts — District of Columbia Public Schools  and Gwinnett County Public Schools — to be Outstanding Great Districts for exceeding the organization’s benchmarks and demonstrating exceptional achievement.

In addition, NCTQ named four honorable mention districts:

  • Duval County Public Schools (Florida), for teacher support and feedback
  • Indianapolis Public Schools, for staffing structures
  • Newark Public Schools (New Jersey), for compensation and evaluation
  • School District of Osceola County (Florida), for professional support
NCTQ announced these winners at the South by Southwest EDU conference in Austin, TX. This is the first year NCTQ has named Great Districts for Great Teachers.

“We first conceived the Great Districts for Great Teachers initiative over a year ago as a way to celebrate the good work on the part of so many school districts,” said Kate Walsh, President of NCTQ. “We hope these winners will inspire other districts in their own transformations so that sometime soon, all districts will be great districts where great people want to work.”

To develop the criteria districts would need to meet to earn this honor, NCTQ obtained the input of great teachers in focus groups and surveys and examined what research has concluded about best practices, as well as the organization’s own extensive experience analyzing district human capital policies and practices.

The eight winners excelled in five key areas: compensation, professional support, effective management and operations, career and leadership opportunities, and support services for students.

Some of the criteria included:

  • Substantial salaries provide a good standard of living, and the district rewards excellence in multiple ways;
  • Professional development and coaching are tailored to teachers’ needs and include sufficient collaborative planning time;
  • Schools are run efficiently, with evidence that the district allows schools to make decisions in their own best interest;
  • Teachers have multiple opportunities to tackle leadership roles; and,
  • Districts offer vital support that enables great teachers to meet the needs of their students.

“We are proud to have been named a Great District for Great Teachers winner and that our work to recruit, reward, and recognize our teachers is getting noticed,” said J. Alvin Wilbanks, CEO/Superintendent, Gwinnett County Public Schools. “We have some of the most outstanding educators in the profession and their dedication to their students and to providing a world-class education for students is a driving force in our district’s success… This national recognition is a testament to the hard work our teachers do every day and our district’s work to support and develop educators.”

“Great teachers transform the lives of their students,” said Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education 2009-2016. “Great districts understand their most important job is to get great teachers into every single one of their classrooms, and support them in the complex, critically important work they do every day.”

In choosing the winners, researchers conducted an 18-month analysis, carefully evaluating data from districts’ teacher contracts, examining documents and data, and surveying and interviewing teachers. NCTQ staff verified the selected finalists through focus groups with teachers and interviews with district leaders in each district.

“Pinellas County Schools is honored to be selected as a Great District for Great Teachers,” said Dr. Michael A. Grego, Superintendent, Pinellas County Schools. “Our successes, especially the academic achievements made by students, are possible because of dedicated teachers. We strive to make educators feel supported from the moment they are hired until they retire… I want to thank our teachers for their commitment to students and to their growth as educators.”

“Supporting and aiding great teachers is the best way to shape a better future for all students,” said Sarah Heaton, NCTQ’s Managing Director of District Policy and Practice, who ran this initiative. “By recognizing great teachers and building their leadership potential, these Great Districts magnify the impact of great teachers beyond the walls of their individual classrooms.”

Sponsors of this initiative include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Heinz Endowments, and the Walton Family Foundation.

More details about the program can be found at www.greatdistricts.org.

For additional information or to arrange an interview with Kate Walsh or Sarah Heaton please contact Stephen Buckley at (202) 393-0020 ext. 129.


About the National Council on Teacher Quality:
The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) is a nonpartisan research and policy group, committed to modernizing the teaching profession and based on the belief that all children deserve effective teachers. NCTQ is the nation’s expert on the quality of teacher preparation programs and evaluates national teacher education against evidence-based criteria. More information about NCTQ can be found on our website,


myON Launches New Product: myON News Powered by News-O-Matic 

Exclusive partnership provides daily multimedia news articles for K8 students in many languages and at a range of Lexile® levels


(Minneapolis, MN) March 6, 2017 — myON, the leading provider of personalized literacy solutions in the K–12 marketplace, today introduced myON News Powered by News-O-Matic. The digital multimedia platform will serve as an interactive and fun introduction to daily news and current events for kids. myON News will engage K–8 students to help them become informed global citizens and connected to digital fiction and nonfiction books—a first-of-its-kind feature for classrooms.

myON News publishes five original news articles designed for students every weekday, 52 weeks a year. All articles are available at three personalized reading levels, in English and Spanish, and are approved by education experts and child psychologists. In addition, myON News allows educators to assign articles, monitor student activity, and leverage real-time reporting and usage reports to guide and evaluate their students’ progress every step of the way. A daily Teacher’s Guide provides additional tools to help educators seamlessly integrate the texts into their classrooms.


While other providers aggregate news for adults and use a computer algorithm to simplify, myON News creates news specifically for kids. Its team of experts manually levels the texts using the Lexile® Framework for Reading. Additional supports include audio narration (by real people!), high-quality photos and videos, facts and calls to action, and interactive maps showing where the stories take place. The addition of myON News to the Literacy Ecosystem™ creates the first literacy solution to combine the power of published books with up-to-the-minute daily news articles—a breakthrough model for all students.


“Establishing an interest in world news is crucial to our children’s future,” said Todd Brekhus, the President of myON. “Today, everyone is trying to decipher the differences between ‘real’ and ‘fake’ news, and educating our students on what is ‘real’ is critical to knowing how global headlines will impact them. With myON News, we create a safe, relevant, and personalized learning environment that allows students to become empowered global citizens and fosters their natural curiosity for learning.”

“With more than 3 million students already reading News-O-Matic, it is clear that our passion for creating news for students is resonating,” said Chief Content Officer Russell Kahn. “We will continue to create rich multimedia stories on a daily basis to inspire young readers to become lifelong readers who can think critically about their world.”


Kahn explained what makes this product so revolutionary. “myON News is not simplified grown-up news; it is a flipped news experience for young readers. Rather than generating fear and anxiety, it inspires empowerment, engagement, and citizenship in an age-appropriate, relatable, and informative manner.”


Marc-Henri Magdelenat, the Founder and CEO of Press4Kids, the parent company of News-O-Matic, commented, “News-O-Matic has already created a groundswell of interest to enhance students’ interests in the news. Rebranding News-O-Matic to myON News will significantly help us reach a larger audience of young readers than ever before. Thanks to myON’s vast and growing network of K–12 schools, more students will get the opportunity to read current events and learn about their world on a daily basis. These are the children who will someday grow up to become active, empathetic, and conscientious adults.”


By adding myON News, myON continues to fulfill its mission of instilling a love of reading and learning, creating unique literacy experiences by putting digital books—and now digital articles—in the hands of children worldwide, regardless of their geographic, demographic, or socio-economic status. For more information about myON News or to request a free trial for your school, please visit myONnews.com.


About myON

myON develops personalized literacy solutions that create collaborative learning opportunities for students worldwide. myON expands the classroom for teachers and students by providing unlimited access to a collection of more than 13,000 enhanced digital books with multimedia supports, daily news articles, real-time assessments, and close reading tools. myON empowers students and teachers with real-time, actionable data—number and type of books and articles opened and read, time spent reading, results of regular benchmark assessments, and more—based on embedded Lexile® assessments that measure student reading growth and engagement. With myON, every student experiences the benefits of personalized literacy instruction. For more information, please visit myON.com.


About News-O-Matic

News-O-Matic is the Daily News Just for Kids. It is used at home and at school by millions of children (3.5 million+ downloads from 150 countries). News-O-Matic is an exciting and engaging nonfiction experience, giving young readers a window into the world—and a reason to love reading on a daily basis. The tool allows students to make connections in meaningful ways and gives them a voice to communicate with peers across the planet. News-O-Matic is published by Press4Kids.


Neshaminy School District Receives Charlotte F. Lockhart Award for Excellence in Literacy Education 

Reading Horizon honored Neshaminy for its renowned reading intervention program with a blended learning approach 


(SALT LAKE CITY) March 7, 2017 — Reading Horizons, a multisensory curriculum used to rapidly increase reading skills, presented the Charlotte F. Lockhart Award for Excellence in Literacy Education to Neshaminy School District.


Neshaminy, located in Bucks County, PA, began its Reading Horizons implementation with a small pilot five years ago. Since then, the dedication of the educators involved has helped transform that pilot into a highly praised intervention program that is offered to all Title 1 students in kindergarten through third grade.


By including activities and games that build phonics, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, pronunciation, fluency, and comprehension skills, educators at Neshaminy ensured that Reading Horizons would help their students master foundational decoding skills and grow in every area they needed for reading success. The staff diligently spread their message of literary success, ensured the fidelity of the program’s delivery, and remained current with the necessary research and trends—all so that every Title 1 student could achieve his or her complete potential.


Currently, all of Neshaminy’s Title 1 staff, elementary reading specialists, and some special education teachers have been trained to use Reading Horizons through professional development workshops and are successfully using the method.


“It’s just remarkable what the educators at Neshaminy have accomplished,” said Tyson Smith, President of Reading Horizons. “We see a lot of success stories, but Neshaminy has gone above and beyond in their dedication to creating a culture of literacy in their district. It was their passion for student success that warranted receiving this award.”


After two years of using direct instruction from Reading Horizons, the Neshaminy district administration added the company’s interactive software Reading Horizons Discovery® to create a blended learning model of instruction. Title I staff also initiated after-school orientations in an effort to give parents the means to apply these powerful strategies at home.


“Neshaminy School District’s Title 1 staff has always been committed to providing outstanding interventional support for their most struggling readers using research-based strategies and best-practice methods,” said Dr. Gloria Hancock, the assistant superintendent of Neshaminy School District. “They have been dedicated and determined to ensure that every Title 1 student had a solid foundation in reading so all could achieve grade-level proficiency. I believe Neshaminy School District exemplifies the spirit, dedication, and passion for literacy demonstrated by Charlotte Lockhart.”


The Charlotte Lockhart award was created to embody the characteristics and core values of its namesake, Charlotte F. Lockhart. Nicknamed the “Biphonic Woman,” she was an exemplary educator and role model with a passion for teaching the world to read. The Orton-Gillingham-based method that Lockhart created is now the foundation of the entire Reading Horizons system. To honor her legacy, Reading Horizons grants the award to institutions and individuals who best exemplify the excellence in literacy education that she embodied and embraced.

About Reading Horizons 
For more than 30 years, Reading Horizons has been dedicated to perfecting a reading method that has proven successful for beginning readers, struggling readers, and students learning English. Reading Horizons products are research-based and use a multisensory system that provides explicit, systematic, and sequential decoding instruction. For more information, please visit ReadingHorizons.com.


SXSWedu: Renaissance Launches “Renaissance Growth Platform”
Platform provides the most comprehensive view of student growth and mastery available for K-12 educators

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (March 6, 2017) – Renaissance®, the leader in K-12 learning analytics, announces that nearly 20 million students—one-third of United States schools—are actively using its innovative, ground breaking Renaissance Growth Platform. The platform integrates the company’s award winning portfolio: Renaissance Star360® assessment solutions, the Renaissance Accelerated Reader 360® reading practice solution, and the Renaissance Accelerated Math® practice solution.

“Over a four-year period we conducted exhaustive research and interviewed hundreds of educators and learned that many of them are struggling to accurately measure student growth on a daily basis,” said Mark Angel, chief technology officer at Renaissance. “We also confirmed that they want to differentiate and personalize instruction, but it’s difficult for them to do so in a way that’s scalable in the classroom. Our Growth Platform makes both of these goals attainable for educators by allowing them to set goals and monitor student progress with greater efficiency.”

Released at the beginning of 2017, the Renaissance Growth Platform was built with three things in mind: flexibility, efficiency and usability. In parallel to building the Growth Platform, Renaissance rebuilt its complete portfolio to take advantage of the platform’s robust, scalable architecture. The power of the complete integrated suite manifests in several ways, including a workflow engine that allows educators to manage and deliver all assignments from Star assessments to Accelerated Reader 360 and Accelerated Math practice through a simple-to-use student inbox.

To read the full release, please click here.


Dremel Partners with Project Lead The Way to Provide Transformative Learning Experiences for Students
More than fifty high school students visit Bosch headquarters for career exploration event to kick-off partnership 

MOUNT PROSPECT, ILL. (March 6, 2017) — Projected vacancies in STEM careers has made career preparation in K-12 education a top priority. Dremel, the manufacturer of tools for life and learning, partners with Project Lead The Way (PLTW) to engage students in real-life, hands-on learning experiences. The goal of this partnership is to provide avenues for students and teachers to explore the invaluable connection between classroom learning and how it applies to career aspirations.

PLTW creates immersive learning experiences for K-12 students that prepare them for college and careers, while providing teachers with the support and training they need to guide student-led learning. Offering pathways in computer science, engineering and biomedical science, students can learn these in-demand skills first-hand from leading industry professionals and companies like Dremel.
For the full news release and photos of the event, please click here