Learning Forward and NCTAF Name 12 Finalist Teams in Agents for Learning Challenge

Jun 23, 2016


For Learning Forward:
Tracy Crow


Karen Cheeks

Learning Forward and NCTAF Name 12 Finalist Teams in Agents for Learning Challenge
Twelve states represented; finalists to convene in Chicago to present plans detailing ESSA-ready professional learning strategies to panel of educators and experts

WASHINGTON – June 23, 2016 – Learning Forward and the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF) today announced 12 finalists in its Agents for Learning challenge, a nationwide call to action designed to engage educator teams in advocating for the best use of federal funding for professional learning under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

The 12 teams — representing 56 teachers, administrators, and learning leaders from 12 different states — proposed plans that described a comprehensive vision for effective professional learning for their states, identified needs that exist and strategies to address them, and outlined roles and responsibilities for states, districts, and individual educators to achieve their visions. In addition, the plans discussed how educators would advise states and districts to use Title II funding to address critical needs of teachers and directly impact student learning outcomes.

The finalists will travel to Chicago July 21-22, where each team will present its plan to a panel of judges and a moderator:

  • Virginia Edwards, Editor-in-Chief and CEO of Education Week (moderator);
  • Stephanie Banchero, Program Director for the Education Program, Joyce Foundation;
  • Jahana Hayes, 2016 National Teacher of the Year;
  • Chris Minnich, Executive Director, CCSSO;
  • Rachel Wise, Chair, Nebraska Board of Education, NASBE.

“We’re so grateful to all of the educators who participated in the challenge. We were proud to offer an opportunity to amplify teachers’ voices in advocating for the professional learning that will make a difference for educators and students,” said Stephanie Hirsh, executive director of Learning Forward. “States tell us they are looking for ways to capture stakeholder input, and the creative and bold ideas in the applications show how much these engaged educators have to offer as we enter the implementation phase of ESSA. I can’t wait to learn more from them during our time in Chicago,” continued Hirsh.

Before presenting their plans, teams will have time to engage in learning and coaching to refine their plans and build skills in advocating with policymakers. Learning Forward and NCTAF will webcast the presentations and disseminate the finalists’ plans on the Learning Forward website to serve as models for educators around the country. Prizes and recognitions will be awarded to finalists by sponsors of the challenge.

As states and districts work to develop comprehensive plans to implement ESSA, Learning Forward and NCTAF believe it is critical that teachers’ expertise, experiences, and input are heard. “As one of our finalist teams noted, ‘teachers are an untapped resource to reform professional development,’ and through this challenge we are incorporating the expertise of our nation’s educators into the broader policy conversation,” said Melinda George, president of NCTAF. “The plans submitted by these teachers make it crystal clear that great teaching for all students will only happen when teacher voice is included at every level – school, district, state and national. Including their insight into what works for students, themselves and their colleagues makes the difference in successfully transforming teaching and learning.”

Visit Agents for Learning for more information on the challenge. For additional information or questions, or to request interviews or credentials to cover the event in Chicago, please reach out to the media contacts listed or send an email to teacheragencycompetition@learningforward.org.

Agents for Learning Finalists


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About Learning Forward
Learning Forward is a nonprofit, international membership association of learning educators committed to one vision in K–12 education: Excellent teaching and learning every day. To realize that vision Learning Forward pursues its mission to build the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning. Information about membership, services, and products is available from http://learningforward.org.

About The National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF)
The National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future (NCTAF) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994 as a bipartisan effort to engage education policymakers and practitioners to address the entrenched national challenge of recruiting, developing, and retaining great teachers in order to ensure that all students have access to quality teaching in schools organized for success. For 20 years, NCTAF has worked to drive and inform the national dialogue about the importance of great teaching, especially in hard-to-staff schools. NCTAF’s research and recommendations inform innovations and improvements in teaching quality nationwide, focus attention on the importance of equitable distribution and retention of teachers, and promote promising practices for the development of teachers’ skills and career pathways. For more information, visit www.nctaf.org. Follow NCTAF on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to NCTAF's News Digest.