Learning about teacher-powered schools

The school you are creating will be designed and run by your team. But why not learn from those who have come before you? Use these resources to explore the history, research, and theory behind teacher-powered schools. Discussing the successes and challenges that previous teams have faced will help members decide whether they want to commit to the journey and work ahead.


Must-read books and websites

Teachers as Owners: A Key to Revitalizing Public Education

Book. Edward J. Dirkswager leads a series of investigations on how being owners, rather than employees, can give teachers control of their professional activity.

Teacher-Powered Schools

Website. Learn about this initiative to grow awareness, action, and support for teacher-powered schools in schools and districts nationwide.

Leadership for Teaching and Learning: How Teacher-Powered Schools Work and Why They Matter

Article. Read about what teacher-powered schools are and why they are important to improving K-12 public education in America. By two teacher-powered thought leaders, Barnett Berry and Kim Farris-Berg.

Teacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers Who Lead But Don’t Leave

Book. Barnett Berry, Ann Byrd, and Alan J. Weider explore a bold new brand of teacher leader- ship, documenting the experiences of eight teacher leaders.

Trusting Teachers with School Success: What Happens When Teachers Call the Shots

Book. Kim Farris-Berg, Edward J. Dirkswager, and Amy Junge answer the question: What would teachers do if they had the autonomy to collectively—with their colleagues—make decisions influencing school success?

Who Controls Teachers’ Work?: Power and Accountability in America’s Public Schools

Book. Professor Richard Ingersoll asks: Are teachers more akin to professionals or factory workers in the amount of control they have over their work? And, what difference does it make?

Community Schools Playbook

Publication. A practical guide to advancing community schools strategies.

List and overview of existing teacher-powered schools

Evolution of Schools with Collective Teacher Autonomy

Website. This timeline shows the history of teacher-powered schools in the United States.

National Inventory of Teacher-Powered Schools

Website. This resource features all the known K-12 public schools where teachers have collective autonomy to make decisions influencing school success. It also details their autonomy arrangements and areas of autonomy secured.

Supporting research, theory, and practices

Can We Trust Teachers to Successfully Manage Whole Schools?

Commentary. Kim Farris-Berg explains how teachers with collective autonomy often create schools with cultures that emulate those of high-performing organizations.

Does Collective Teacher Autonomy Make Any Difference for Student Achievement?

Commentary. Kim Farris-Berg describes how teacher autonomy can positively impact student achievement.

The Failure of Test-Based Accountability

Newspaper article. In this three-part blog, Marc Tucker explains the dangers of test-based accountability and teacher evaluation systems.

Flip The System: Changing Education From the Ground Up

Book. Teachers and other eduational experts make the case for embracing a democratic approach to education that places teachers exactly where they need to be--at the steering wheel of educational systems worldwide.

A Global Network of Teachers and Their Professional Learning Systems

Report. Findings from this 2014 CTQ-Global TeacherSolutions report on professional learning systems in six cities suggest that in non-U.S. cities where teacher-powered schools are the norm, teachers collaboratively learn and lead for the benefit of their whole school.

Getting to Teacher Ownership: How Schools Are Creating Meaningful Change

Report. This report by the Annenberg Institute includes a case study on Social Justice Humanitas Academy and compelling research on the how teacher ownership enables teacher teams to make meaningful changes at their sites.

Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World

Book. Margaret J. Wheatley pulls from quantum physics, chaos theory, and molecular biology to identify ways that organizations, including schools, can improve.

Minnesota and Wisconsin Teachers Tout Their Teacher-Powered Schools to Arne Duncan

Newspaper article. Beth Hawkins writes about two educators at teacher-powered schools who think teachers should be in charge.

The Missing Link in School Reform

Journal article. Researcher C.R. Leana describes how the existence of trusting relationships between teachers is a significant predictor of improved student performance.

The Path Forward: School Autonomy and Its Implications for the Future of Boston’s Public Schools

Report. Education Resource Strategies and Center for Collaborative Education explore the question of how Boston Public Schools can strengthen and support autonomy and accountability across its portfolio to promote innovation for equity and high performance.

Short on Power, Long on Responsibility

Journal article. Professor Richard Ingersoll makes the case that, to improve teacher quality, schools need to go beyond holding teachers more accountable—by giving them more control.

Rich Communities in Small High Schools? Teacher Collaboration and Cohesion Inside 25 Los Angeles Campuses

Report. This 2014 report by Bruce Fuller, Anisah Waite, Celina Lee Chao with Iza Mari Benedicto begins to illuminate how teachers’ ties to each other differ across small schools, and how social cohesion flows from site-run management.

Teach to Lead: Advancing Teacher Leadership

Website. Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, announces the launch of the Teach to Lead initiative and provides a rationale.

Teachers Deserve a Shot at Running Their Schools

Commentary. Charles Taylor Kerchner considers the question: Would more teacher-powered schools give the U.S. new educational ideas and variations in schooling?

What It Means to Believe in Teachers

Commentary. Kim Farris-Berg asks: What if trusting teachers, not controlling them, is the key to school success?

Worker Democracy and Worker Productivity

Journal article. Henry M. Levin gives a research-based argument that teachers might find useful for developing a democratic school governance model.

Current interest among teachers in creating teacher-powered schools

Are Teachers Interested in the Opportunity to Call the Shots?

Commentary. Kim Farris-Berg explores the question: If teachers had autonomy to collectively make decisions influencing whole school success, would they be interested?

Teacher Autonomy and Teacher Quality: Putting More Think into the Think Tank

Commentary. Center for Teaching Quality CEO Barnett Berry tackles a report that describes teachers’ dissatisfaction with lack of autonomy in their work.

Teacher-Powered Schools: Generating Lasting Impact through Common Sense Innovation

Report. In this groundbreaking national opinion study, Education Evolving reports that 91 percent of Americans believe teachers should have greater influence over decisions that affect student learning, while 81 percent indicate they trust teachers to make “schools run better.”

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