Fact Sheet: Best Job in the World

Fact Sheet: Best Job in the World

February 12, 2016

There is no task more critical to securing our nation's economic future and preserving the promise of the American Dream than educating our children who have historically faced the longest odds. We know that great teaching is the most important in-school factor impacting student achievement, which means we must continue to attract, and keep, top talent and we must ensure that high-needs schools are not only a great place to work, but also are a step up the career ladder. Teaching in these schools should be a reward for excellence and a path to continued career success.

Unfortunately, too often the opposite is true. Our highest need students are often trapped in schools that suffer from years of inadequate support, a lack of resources and poor working conditions for educators. Rather than serving as a vehicle to break the cycle of poverty, these schools perpetuate that cycle.

In order to ensure schools fulfill their role in driving opportunity for all students, President Obama's 2017 budget invests in educators with $1 billion in additional funding for the Best Job in the World grant competition to support a nationwide effort to dramatically transform the job of working in a high-needs school in order to better attract and retain talented, committed and accomplished teachers. The program would award competitive grants of up to $250 million to states to support comprehensive, locally-developed, teacher-led efforts in our highest-needs schools.

Supporting our nation's educators and elevating the teaching profession are top priorities for me. Taking on the responsibility of teaching our highest-needs students should be celebrated and recognized," said Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. "We must do all we can to make the job of teaching in a school serving high-needs students is a position that teachers aspire to and work toward."

Best Job Grants

The goal of Best Job grants is to begin to transform schools into the best places to advance a career in education while significantly improving outcomes for our neediest students. The proposal reflects our belief that all students, regardless of race or zip code, deserve access to excellent educators.

Grant funds could be used to:

  • Create meaningful advancement opportunities, including significantly increasing salaries for effective teachers in high-needs schools, while ensuring that teachers who continue to demonstrate effectiveness move up the salary scale at an accelerated rate and/or move into hybrid teacher/leader and leadership positions.
  • Provide "teacher time banks" to provide teachers flexibility to engage in activities they determine will drive their development to improve outcomes for students, including common planning time, teacher-led developmental experiences for other educators and extended student learning opportunities based on educators' assessment of the highest impact activities.
  • Dramatically improve working conditions by creating school climates conducive to teaching and learning through improving access to educational technology, adding more counseling, creating more wraparound services for students, focusing on staff morale or reducing class sizes.

Best Job would award grants to states, which in turn would make subgrants to districts with schools identified for comprehensive support and improvement under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Eligible districts would do a needs assessment that includes educator, community and stakeholder input, aimed at identifying incentives for attracting and retaining effective teachers and school leaders and creating more supportive school environments for students and teachers.

Building on RESPECT

The proposal builds on the U.S. Department of Education's RESPECT project, which launched in 2012 to directly engage with teachers and principals across the country about the teaching profession. Those conversations focused on improving preparation and early career assistance; ensuring that educators have opportunities to develop, advance, and lead as they transition to instruction aligned to more rigorous standards; and improving the work environment through investments in coaching and feedback, collaborative time, and teacher leadership.

Best Job reflects the feedback from RESPECT conversations, as well as lessons from other Department activities around teachers, including Teach to Lead, the Excellent Educators for All initiative, and competitive grant programs like the Teacher Incentive Fund.

Through these initiatives, states have proposed strategies to attract and retain effective educators to high-needs schools, and the Best Job initiative would provide significant resources to support meaningful implementation of those strategies in the districts with the greatest need for effective teachers and school leaders.

In addition, Best Job complements the Administration's Teacher and Principal Pathways budget proposal, which would dedicate $125 million for grants to institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations that work closely with school districts to create or expand high-quality pathways into the teaching profession, particularly in high-needs schools and high-needs subjects.

Leveraging Teacher Leadership

Over the last two years, the Department's Teach to Lead initiative has worked to meet a growing demand for teacher's voices in developing and implementing effective reforms in our schools. Through Teach to Lead summits and leadership labs, the Department has engaged with more than 3,000 teachers from across the country about how educators can lead from the classroom. Those educators have created more than 170 action plans for improvements at the school, district, state, and national level.

Best Job would build on this success by ensuring significant teacher input into the application and planning process for local subgrants. This approach would give educators, parents and community members a meaningful role in determining the best use of program funds to both improve professional practice and help make schools great places to work. This approach recognizes that great teachers are more likely to stay in schools where they have meaningful input in developing and implementing solutions that will improve student learning.

This proposal will encourage schools to work collaboratively with teachers to address and improve the barriers to attracting and keeping the best educators in the schools where they are needed most, resulting in the transformation of some of the least-equipped and hardest-to-staff schools into destinations for educators and students alike.

A Budget that Supports Teachers and Leaders

The Best Job grants are part of a budget that includes—as one of its three core pillars—a focus on supporting teachers, school leaders and their profession. Additional proposals include:

  • $250 million for the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program to support efforts to develop, implement, improve, or expand human capital management systems or performance-based compensation systems in schools in ways that attract, develop and retain talented, committed, and accomplished teachers in high-needs schools.
  • $125 million for the proposed Teacher and Principal Pathways program for grants to institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations, working closely with school districts, to create or expand high-quality pathways into the teaching profession, particularly into high-needs schools and high-needs subjects such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
  • $100 million for Supporting Effective Educator Development to support institutions of higher education, nonprofits, and the Bureau of Indian Education, to provide evidence-based professional development activities and prepare teachers and principals from nontraditional preparation and certification routes to serve in high-needs districts.
  • $30 million for the School Leader Recruitment and Support program to improve the recruitment, preparation, placement, support, and retention of effective principals and other school leaders in high-needs schools.
  • $10 million for Teach to Lead grants to build on the promising work begun through the Department's "Teach to Lead" convenings. The proposal would provide direct support to teachers that develop innovative reforms with the potential for wider impact on improving student outcomes.
  • A streamlined and expanded initiative to provide up to $25,000 in student loan forgiveness for teachers graduating from an effective preparation program who serve in low-income schools, starting in 2021. This proposal would consolidate various postsecondary assistance options available for teachers, such as TEACH grants and the current teacher loan forgiveness program, into a single loan forgiveness program in which the benefit increases over time as teachers stay in high-needs schools.