What Matters Now Network

What Matters Now Network

What is it?

Learning Forward’s What Matters Now Network (WMNN) was conceived in 2016 and launched in 2017 with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The Network brings together state, district, and school leaders within and across three states with a shared vision to accelerate the adoption of job-embedded professional learning that is focused on selecting and implementing high-quality instructional materials.


When strong professional learning systems support educators in implementing high-quality curriculum and instructional materials, more students have access to effective teaching and learning - and better student outcomes are the result. The Network is grounded in the vision established in the 2016 National Commission for Teaching & America's Future (NCTAF) report What Matters Now: A New Compact for Teaching and Learning.

What makes the What Matters Now Network unique?

    • The intersection between high-quality instructional materials and job-embedded professional learning;
    • Practice informing policy;
    • Shared leadership across coalitions; and
    • The use of improvement science.

The What Matters Now Network launched with three states. Maryland, Rhode Island, and Ohio have formed coalitions with strong stakeholder representation including state department of education representatives, district leaders, school leaders, and teachers. Each coalition is facilitated by a collaborative partner – an experienced and respected entity in the state with knowledge of history and context. The three coalitions are united by a shared problem of practice: How can all teachers in participating states access coherent and relevant job-embedded professional learning that enables them to select and effectively implement high-quality curricula and instructional materials? Each coalition has narrowed this shared problem of practice according to a content-specific need.


Stylized green sketch map of Maryland illustration vector

In Maryland, the state is focused on teachers in Network schools receiving professional learning aligned to high quality curricula and instructional materials to equip students to meet or exceed state average results on the NGSS-aligned science assessment by May 2021. Learn more.


Stylized green sketch map of Ohio illustration vector

In Ohio, the state is focused on district use of collaborative learning teams to strengthen teacher capacity to improve literacy outcomes for all PreK-grade 3 children. Learn more.

Rhode Island

Stylized green sketch map of Rhode Island illustration vector

In Rhode Island, the focus is on utilizing a common student work protocol to identifying the most relevant and effective designs for job-embedded professional learning.
Learn more.

What members are saying

“It has been a real success to build this partnership with the group of folks working together—high officials and teachers working on shared problem with co-equal relationships.”

“The chance to connect across states was helpful. The framing and digging deeper into the measurements was particularly helpful for the work we're doing in state.” 

”We have thought a lot about the core principles of a good improvement science community. We make sure that all voices are at the table in co-equal ways. We are using a deeper, disciplined inquiry process to address issues.”

“Teacher voice has been at the forefront of the process. I know my voice matters. Everyone values the input I bring. I look forward to going and engaging with state leaders. Everyone has valued the opinion and perspective of teachers.”

Additional Resources

Positive Impacts found in an Independent Evaluation by WestEd

WestEd, an independent research firm, has conducted a two-year formative evaluation of the What Matters Now Network and found a positive impact on teaching and policy. Read the WestEd report here.


The power of combining high-quality professional learning and instructional materials.

When teachers are supported with both relevant professional learning and high-quality instructional materials, students are more likely to learn. Explore Learning Forward’s publication High-Quality Curricula and Team-Based Professional Learning: A Perfect Partnership for Equity for related research, lessons from practitioners, and action steps to achieve the conditions that will help increase achievement for all students.


More about the What Matters Now operations and goals

For more detail about how improvement science structures and processes help states set goals and then make and measure progress, read “Network uses improvement science to scale up change” from The Learning Professional, February 2019.

Thank you to our funders!



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Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster
Vice President, Research & Standards
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Melinda George

Melinda George
Chief Policy Officer
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Richardson, TX 75081
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Nick Morgan

Nick Morgan
Senior Consultant
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Suite 224
Richardson, TX 75081
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