The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a national leader on teacher issues--has named Gwinnett County Public Schools a winner in its first-ever Great Districts for Great Teachers (GDGT) initiative. NCTQ announced eight winning Great Districts for Great Teachers out of an original pool of 123 school districts. NCTQ chose these districts after a rigorous 18-month evaluation of data, policies, and teacher input. Each of the eight winners excelled on criteria that research suggests connect to effective teaching. However, GCPS earned additional accolades, capturing the title of “Outstanding Great District for Great Teachers.” GCPS’ high teacher satisfaction and teacher enthusiasm for the district in all areas, as reflected in focus groups and survey responses, far exceeded what NCTQ saw in other districts.
“Great Districts for Great Teachers is a celebration of great teaching,” said Kate Walsh, President of NCTQ. “We celebrate the hard, often politically challenging efforts by a special group of school districts who have managed to put together policies and practices that make them great places for great teachers to work.”
“We are honored that NCTQ selected us as one its first Great Districts for Great Teachers,” said GCPS CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. “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. I often say that we only have two kinds of employees in Gwinnett County Public Schools... those who teach and those who support those who teach. This national recognition is a testament to the reality of this statement as it highlights the hard work our teachers do every day and our district's work to support and develop educators.”
NCTQ developed the criteria for this honor based on its experience stretching over a decade analyzing district human capital policies and practices as well as input from teachers and other education leaders. The eight winners excelled on five criteria that research suggests connect to effective teaching— compensation, professional support, effective management and operations, career and leadership opportunities, and support services for students. Some of the criteria included:
- Salaries provide a good standard of living and the district finds ways to reward excellence.
- Professional development and coaching are tailored to teachers’ needs and include opportunities for collaborative planning time.
- Schools are run efficiently, with evidence that the district allows its schools to make the decisions that are in their best interest.
- There are a number of opportunities for teachers to take on leadership roles.
- Teachers get high levels of support from the district when it comes to meeting the needs of students.
In addition to Gwinnett, other winners include: Boston Public Schools, Broward County School District (Florida), Denver Public Schools, District of Columbia Public Schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools (Georgia), New York City Public Schools, Pinellas County School District (Florida), and Pittsburgh Public Schools.
In choosing the winners, researchers carefully evaluated data from the teachers’ contract, examined documents and data submitted by the district, surveyed teachers, and interviewed teachers. NCTQ staff verified the selected finalists through focus groups with teachers and interviews with district leaders in each district.
NCTQ organized the GDGT initiative because it believes supporting and aiding great teachers is the best way to shape a better future for all students. Great teachers not only provide an excellent education for their own students, they also become inspiring role models and leaders for the entire teaching profession.
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 GDGT can be found at http://www.greatdistricts.org.