The most important school-based factor influencing student achievement is the quality of a school’s workforce—the teachers and leaders responsible for setting high expectations and delivering top quality instruction. In order to ensure every student has access to a high quality education, prioritizing policies and practices that support teachers and school leaders is essential. Without highly trained and vigorously supported educators, it is simply not possible to close the achievement gap or to turn around low-performing schools. Most state budgets support this premise—three out of every four education dollars are invested in human capital. But careful examination reveals that not all human capital expenditures are worth the investment while some worthy investments go unfunded. More must be done to bring the best educators into schools—and to provide them with the resources and incentives to stay.
Gubernatorial leadership is essential for ensuring that every school and every classroom is staffed by highly effective teachers and school leaders. Governors are well positioned to establish a shared vision for aligned and coherent systems that support the people who educate children. To recruit better candidates into the profession and support their professional growth, governors can lead efforts to rethink how educators are recruited, prepared, licensed, evaluated and developed, and progress through career lattices and compensation tiers. They can: set high expectations for teacher and principal training institutions; refine educator certification systems; and mandate, fund, and align high-quality evaluation and development systems. In short, governors hold the key to transforming public education. The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) Education Division assists governors and their staffs to realize their administration’s potential impact on schooling.