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Executive Summary

Trends in Implementation: The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching Through 2013–2014 (RR-1295/1-BMGF)

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Appendixes D and E

Improving Teaching Effectiveness: Implementation, Appendixes D and E: The Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching Through 2013–2014 (RR-1295/2-BMGF)

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Research Questions

  1. How have sites implemented the partnership program?
  2. How do sites evaluate the effectiveness of instruction?
  3. How has the program changed how sites handle staffing?
  4. How did sites modify their professional development to support teachers' effectiveness?
  5. What types of compensation and career path practices did sites adopt?

To improve the U.S. education system through more-effective classroom teaching, in school year 2009–2010, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced the Intensive Partnership for Effective Teaching sites. The Intensive Partnerships Initiative is based on the premise that efforts to improve instruction can benefit from high-quality measures of teaching effectiveness. The initiative seeks to determine whether a school can implement a high-quality measure of teaching effectiveness and use it to support and manage teachers in ways that improve student outcomes. This approach is consistent with broader national trends in which performance-based teacher evaluation is increasingly being mandated at state and local levels.

To test the theory in practice, the foundation sought partnership sites. It selected three school districts — Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida, Shelby County Schools in Tennessee, and Pittsburgh Public Schools in Pennsylvania. The foundation also selected four charter management organizations — Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Aspire Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools, and the Partnerships to Uplift Communities, all in California.

To evaluate Intensive Partnership implementation, researchers from the RAND Corporation and the American Institutes for Research interviewed annually central-office staff at each site and teachers and other staff in a sample of schools for each site. They also used data from annual teacher and school-leader surveys and documents that the sites and the foundation provided. This report summarizes the implementation status of key reform elements at each site when the Intensive Partnerships initiative launched and five years later in the spring of 2014.

Key Findings

Sites Implemented Different Levers at Different Times and in Different Ways

  • Each site took about two years to design and implement its teaching-effectiveness (TE) measure. The surveys and interviews suggest that teachers and school leaders thought that the effectiveness measures had positive effects. Most teachers reported that the sites emphasized using measures for improvement far more than for dismissal or termination, though some teachers expressed concerns that the measures might eventually lead to job loss or other undesirable outcomes.
  • Sites made changes to their procedures for recruitment, hiring, placement, tenure, and dismissal of teachers to try to improve the overall effectiveness of their teacher workforce.
  • Sites did not make many changes to their professional-development (PD) practices for the first couple of years of the initiative. However, once the TE measures were operational, the sites began to explore strategies for supporting teachers based on their identified needs in an effort to improve instruction. Sites found it challenging to customize PD to the needs of individual teachers for a variety of reasons. Individualized PD also presented challenges in terms of recordkeeping.
  • Most sites implemented compensation reforms and differentiated career positions later than the other levers. Teachers reported that they preferred a salary schedule that has a base pay determined by background and experience with bonuses for effectiveness.


  • Continue evaluating the implementation and impact of the Intensive Partnerships initiative through the 2015–2016 school year. This will include updates on implementation and its cost and specific steps the sites are taking to sustain the reforms.
  • Investigate the quality of the teacher-effectiveness measures and assess the effects that the reform has on student outcomes.

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Education and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For this document, different permissions for re-use apply. Please refer to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation section on our permissions page.

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