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,


Statement from Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality, on Congressional Action on the Federal Teacher Preparation Regulations

The Senate is now considering a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that overturns theteacher preparation regulations finalized by the Department of Education this past October.

NCTQ President Kate Walsh released this statement: “It is unfortunate that the House made no attempt to scrutinize these regulations to see where they added value and where they did not. Teacher preparation institutions and programs are not a monolith; these regulations require increased transparency regarding individual program strengths and weaknesses to improve teacher training and, ultimately, to support America’s students and schools.”

The Department of Education spent years developing and finalizing these regulations as a compromise among educators and local, state, and federal officials. Although imperfect, these regulations require states and institutions training teachers to collect and report key information about teacher preparation programs. By overturning these regulations, Congress would tell our nation’s teacher preparation programs that they will not be held accountable for how well they educate aspiring teachers. Nor will applicants be able to discover which programs provide the best preparation for teaching. This measure also robs education leaders of the necessary information to laud exemplary programs and intervene to help struggling programs succeed.

NCTQ’s own research on teacher preparation programs has found that, unfortunately, too many programs graduate teachers who require substantial assistance before they are truly ready for the classroom. Ourresearch also has demonstrated that individual teacher preparation programs within the same institution vary significantly, indicating a clear need for transparent data at the program level, as these regulations require. For these reasons, the teacher preparation regulations should be retained.

However, rejecting this bill is not the only opportunity Congress has to strengthen teacher preparation this year.  Indeed, Congress has indicated that it intends to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) this session. We urge them to move swiftly in doing so.  A strong, bi-partisan HEA reauthorization should incorporate the key transparency requirements embedded in the teacher preparation regulations, including reporting key data at the program level and conducting statewide surveys of new teachers and their principals. Our nation’s students and schools deserve nothing less.


To schedule an interview with Ms. Walsh, please contact Stephen Buckley on (202) 393-0020 ext. 129.

About the National Council on Teacher Quality: 
The National Council on Teacher Quality is a nonpartisan research and policy group, committed to modernizing the teaching profession and based on the belief that all children deserve effective teachers. We recognize that it is not teachers who bear responsibility for their profession’s many challenges, but the institutions with the greatest authority and influence over teachers. More information about NCTQ can be found on our website, www.nctq.org.


itslearning to Host Webinar:

Alan November on Strategies to Enhance Student Self-Assessment


WHAT: A no cost webinar hosted by Education Week magazine and sponsored by itslearning for K-12 educators and administrators who want to gain a deeper understanding on the topic of student self-assessment, as well as methods and strategies for developing strong self-assessment skills in today’s learners.


PRESENTER: International education technology leader, Alan November. Recently named one of the USA’s fifteen most influential thinkers of the decade by Tech and Learning magazine, Mr. November’s most recent book, Who Owns the Learning?, made the education New York Times bestseller list. Mr. November has also worked with schools and universities in 40 countries to improve learning through innovative practice. He currently leads the globally acclaimed Building Learning Communities conference.


WHEN:  Thursday, March 16, 1 PM EST


REGISTER: http://bit.ly/2m4HAAu


Boston, MA – March 7, 2017 — On March 16 at 1 PM ET, itslearning will sponsor a webinar hosted by influential author and speaker Alan November. The free webinar, sponsored by Education Week magazine, will offer K-12 educators and administrators strategies for helping students develop a strong skill set around self-assessment, and present examples of integrating student self-assessment into various classroom teaching and learning scenarios.


Designed specifically for the K-12 sector, itslearning is a leading, cloud-based learning management system that helps educators create innovative and personalized learning environments for students. Known as a best-in-class solution for curriculum management, content integration, and student rostering; itslearning also offers an easy-to-navigate, customizable standards-aligned planner. All stakeholders – administrators, teachers, students and parents  – can access, as appropriate, course materials, assignments, communities for collaboration, professional development tools, and student progress reports.


Interested educators can also join the synchronous Twitter discussion using the hashtag #rethinklearning17. There is no cost to join the webinar, but registration is required. Go to: http://bit.ly/2m4HAAu


Education Talk Radio Launches a Second Education Podcast for Parents and Community

Education in America aims to close the information gap between schools, districts, and the communities they serve    


(Boston, MA) March 8, 2017 —Larry Jacobs, host of the long-running Education Talk Radio podcast for education professionals, today announced the debut of his new podcast, Education in America.

The weekly podcast brings together the voices and opinions of guest educators, authors and members of the community. The aim is to close the information gap between schools, districts, and the communities they serve.

The podcast went live on February 17. The premiere episode, “The Why and How of School Networking,” featured Larry and his guests Keith Krueger, the executive director of The Consortium for School Networking, and LaShona Dickerson, the technology director of Lafayette Parish (LA) Public Schools. They discussed how best to prepare students and the community for a 21st-century America via the use of technology and networking in schools.


Following that first broadcast, shows have delved into the topics of school choice and the inherent value of supporting public education. Future shows will cover social emotional learning, civics and civic discourse in schools, kindergarten readiness, and the parents’ role in special education. Additionally, an ongoing series will highlight the good work of varied districts around the country.


The podcast airs on Fridays and invites influential and noteworthy thought leaders, professional education associations, and authors to step up to the mic and address the key questions surrounding the role and responsibility of educators and the school system in America—as well as the role of community stakeholders, local businesses, and parents.


When approaching these topics on his podcast, Jacobs uses the “real talk” method, avoiding buzzwords and clichés and widening the discussion to the general public. “I believe that the news of education should be both informative and entertaining,” he said.


Jacobs continued, “It is now more important than ever to bring the positive points of education to the community, parents, and public. After all, it is their tax dollars and tuition we spend daily, and it is their children who we educate. Many companies, educators, and thought leaders have told me they want to get the word to the community, and we are now doing that with Education in America. I want to help both sides understand and support the other.”


Education Talk Radio, which gave rise to Education in America, was Jacobs’ first podcast targeted at professional educators. Launched in 2011 and running five days a week with two or three 40-minute shows daily, it now boasts more than 2,500 broadcasted shows and an average 1,500 listens per day, all archived at Education-TalkRadio.org. With Education in America, Jacobs widens the audience for education news, while narrowing his focus to parents and community in order for that audience to understand what goes on in schools and why education must be understood and supported by all stakeholders, both now and in the future.


To suggest discussion topics or under-writing, or to request to appear as a guest on the show, please contact Larry at edutalklarry@gmail.com.