Leading Educators Partners with Atlanta Public Schools

Adan Garcia, Associate Director of Communications
(202) 510-0827, marketing@leadingeducators.org


Professional learning approach will help teachers bring engaging math lessons to life

August 12, 2019

ATLANTA, GA -  As Atlanta Public Schools (APS) students return to school today, math educators from some of the district’s schools have new supports to help them create excellent and equitable student experiences every day.

The Math PLC Pilot Program, launched in partnership with Leading Educators, focuses on strengthening professional supports for teachers within schools as they implement the Eureka Math curriculum.  To accelerate student learning outcomes, APS has made big bets on scaling adoption of higher-quality instructional materials and deepening teachers’ knowledge of math content, simultaneously building their awareness of implicit biases that affect teaching decisions and providing pedagogical approaches to address them.  Research demonstrates that teaching is the most influential within-school factor on a students’ success. Leading Educators will support APS leaders to foster alignment around a vision for excellent math instruction and work to strengthen the conditions for exponential student growth across classrooms and schools.

Over the next year, Leading Educators and APS will collaborate around the professional learning key lever in the APS Academic System.  The school-based professional learning approach provides weekly opportunities for math teachers to co-plan, practice teaching approaches, and analyze data with the guidance of “PLC leaders” in their building to implement the Eureka Math curricular program.  These school-based leaders will have access to supports including professional development workshops focused on refining the skills necessary for facilitating learning for their peers, and leadership coaching.  

Leading Educators is a rapidly growing innovator of equity-centric instructional improvement for school systems across this country.  In addition to APS, the organization currently serves students in Chicago, Detroit, Greater Grand Rapids, New Orleans, and Tulsa Public Schools.

Earlier this summer, school teams enrolled in the pilot program participated in summer professional learning designed to prepare them for instructional leadership through an equity lens.  School-based professional learning activities begin this fall. 



Leading Educators is reinventing professional development for teachers, igniting the potential for exponential impact in schools and across districts. We partner with states, districts, and public charter networks to design curriculum-based learning and support structures that create the conditions for continuous improvements in teaching across their schools--helping teachers reach more equitable student outcomes every day. www.leadingeducators.org

Bringing Equitable and Excellent Teaching to Life in D.C.

“The Path to Instructional Excellence and Equitable Outcomes” shines a spotlight on D.C. Public Schools’ successful efforts to strengthen teaching and student learning.

When D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and Leading Educators launched LEAP (LEarning together to Advance our Practice) in 2016, many saw the potential for a significant teaching and learning evolution.  More than three years later, “The Path to Instructional Excellence and Equitable Outcomes,” a new report from Learning Forward, shares lessons learned from system investments that have paid off for students and teachers. 

You know your content but you don’t know why the math works the way it works. It’s a struggle for an adult to say, ‘I don’t know this. I have to study to learn this.’”
— Marian Wilkins, LEAP Leader at Kelly Miller Middle School

DCPS has been a system on the rise for much of the past decade which is part of what made it an ideal setting for LEAP to take shape.  The program, which established a strong vision for students’ instructional experiences rooted in equity and alignment to college and career readiness standards, built upon previous district efforts focused on teacher leadership and curriculum.  Creating a learning architecture that provides consistent opportunities for teachers to learn, plan, and practice collaboratively with high-quality instructional materials provided a structure and arc for collaboration that was already occurring in some schools and filled gaps in schools where teachers and school leaders were feeling a real need for support.  “LEAP Leaders”—teacher leaders, instructional coaches, department chairs, and assistant principals selected to lead content-based professional learning in their schools—are now the drivers of instructional improvement at all 115 DCPS schools. 

Bringing the promise of LEAP to life was a complex endeavor requiring clear focus and strong buy-in at all levels of the district.  The support provided by Leading Educators as a design and change management partner was critical to accomplishing scale with fidelity while also bolstering capacity for continuous improvement.  One such adjustment after the first year of implementation, for example, was to create more school flexibility as to how time reserved for LEAP could be used. Leading Educators and district leaders also made adjustments to the strategy for leadership coaching at school sites, prioritizing more touchpoints for LEAP leaders who needed more support. 

In the piece, Marian Wikins, a math LEAP leader at Kelly Miller Middle School shares, “[The experience of having one-on-one coaching] was amazing.  They were able to give me feedback on my presentations, how I was facilitating adult learning. They came out during debriefs to look at how I was providing feedback, making sure teachers walk away with something tangible. It was also great when they came out to co-observe with me. I really loved having that one-on-one support because it was customized for me.”

The takeaways for system leaders in other contexts center around prioritization and key conditions for success.  These include:

  • Provide rigorous content for teacher learning that moves beyond student data protocols to deepen content knowledge and curriculum expertise together.

  • Select leaders with intentionality.

  • Align resources (including materials, people, time, systems, and money) while gradually building school capacity to nurture those conditions without central office. 

  • Plan for intentional scaling over time using a multilevel program evaluation strategy and a commitment to continuous improvement.

  • Protect time for teacher learning and remove priorities that don’t allow teachers to focus on deepening pedagogical content knowledge.

DCPS’s commitment to centering excellent and equitable instruction while creating the operational flexibility and school-based choice for contextual relevance has made LEAP work. Looking into the future, the district now has bolstered capacity to bridge student and teacher needs with support, igniting the potential to keep rising. Read the full report here.