The Texas Education Agency (TEA) acted several years ago to make Texas the first state agency in the nation to support districts matching top teachers with additional pay within current budgets; this Opportunity Culture Texas effort now includes school districts across several states.
MWISD enrolls more than 3,200 students, 71 percent of whom are economically disadvantaged; a tenth of students are English language learners. It offers a wide variety of advanced academic programs and career preparation programs, including Advanced Placement classes, college dual credit classes, Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programs at every campus, and creativity-focused programs like Destination Imagination, Project Lead the Way, and maker spaces; along with fine arts programs, championship athletic teams, and a wide range of Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs that allow motivated students to earn a variety of nationally-recognized career certifications.
In Opportunity Culture Texas, a team of teachers and administrators at a school study and choose among several models that use job-position redesign and age-appropriate technologies to reach more students while also personalizing high-standard, academic instruction. School teams may also review and redesign schedules to provide additional school-day time to plan and collaborate. Teacher-leaders under the model often lead teaching teams and conduct on-the-job coaching and development.
“We have two campuses in Mineral Wells ISD that have discovered Opportunity Culture as a way to give pay increases to outstanding teachers without those teachers being forced to seek more pay by leaving the classroom to pursue office roles,” said MWISD Superintendent of Schools John Kuhn. “We’re excited to offer new opportunities for upward mobility and professional growth to staff members through Opportunity Culture, and we’re hopeful that the support of these new multi-classroom leaders will enhance the great teaching that is already happening in our classrooms,” he added.
School teams may also reallocate budgets to fund positions with pay supplements and higher salaries for increased duties and leader responsibilities. Nationwide, new Opportunity Culture models just like these now operate in 17 district sites across seven states.
MWISD schools currently pursuing Opportunity Culture Texas design implementation include Houston and Travis elementary schools. MWISD currently has about 250 teachers across the district. Each MWISD school that began an Opportunity Culture Texas review earlier this year has had a campus-based design team working for months. New position hiring and appointments, and structures supporting new positions, take effect in the 2017-2018 school year.
Multi-Classroom Leaders (MCLs), the new Opportunity Culture Texas positions in Mineral Wells ISD, are selected from teachers who have a history of excellence. The MCLs will support teachers on their team to plan and deliver quality instruction leading to increased student achievement.
“Opportunity Culture provides a program that will give us the ability to take our most powerful and influential teachers and extend their reach to more students. This will allow us a stronger program for mentoring and growing teachers,” said David Wells, the principal at Travis Elementary. “Our Multi-Classroom Leaders will be professionals that have a passion and ability to lead teachers instructionally, and are afforded the opportunity to do so without moving into administration.”
Opportunity Culture Texas model prototypes were designed by Public Impact, a national group with a mission to improve learning outcomes for all children, with a special focus on students who are falling behind. Public Impact advises TEA and Education Service Center, Region 20, in their design and implementation support of Opportunity Culture Texas districts.
Big Spring ISD, an eight-campus district in West Texas, and Dallas ISD, the second biggest in the state, were early adopters by starting up new schooling models in 2015-2016. Last year, a third district, Harlandale ISD, became an Opportunity Culture Texas adopter, too.
Like Mineral Wells ISD, South San Antonio ISD and Spring Branch ISD are also currently designing for implementation of Opportunity Culture Texas in the 2017-18 school year.
Other Opportunity Culture school sites across the United States include Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools and Project L.I.F.T., Syracuse City School District (N.Y.), Cabarrus County School (N.C.), Indianapolis Public Schools (Ind.), Fulton County Schools (Ga.), Maricopa County (Ariz.), and Metro Nashville Public Schools (Tenn.).
For more information about Opportunity Culture Texas and Opportunity Culture:
Link to TEA grant-funded website on this topic
Link to Public Impact Opportunity Culture website: