Leading Change Resources

We know that we can’t do this work alone and are dedicated to sharing our learning as broadly as possible. Find publications, research, and online courses that can support unions and districts working together to improve student performance.


Latest issue briefs and reports

The NEA Foundation Issue Brief: Teachers Unions: Strong Organizations Rising to the Challenge of 21st Century Teaching and Learning

This issue brief provides a point of departure for teacher union leaders and members to peer into and unpack union organizational development.


It is intended as a tool for self-assessing organizational capacity against an evolving landscape of educational reform at the local, state and national levels, and must consider, among other factors:


  • union size and structure
  • specific reform initiatives on which unions have or must henceforth be focused
  • the sets of relationships they have or must cultivate


As we enter further into the 21st century, we are confident that the extent to which unions are able to initiate and/or actively participate in shaping the conditions that affect teaching quality” (Nina Bascia 2003) and the status of the profession of teaching writ large will continue to grow.


Download the full brief.

Labor Management Resources

There are an increasing number of examples of labor-management teams working to improve student performance nationwide. The publications and resources below give you a sense of what’s possible when we all work together.


Most professions have mechanisms in place to ensure that their practitioners know and carry out the highest standards of practice. Teacher peer assistance and review programs (PAR) are just such a mechanism in public education: teachers observe, support and assess the quality of practice and professional growth of their peers. This Issue Brief provides a snapshot of an NEA Foundation-funded PAR program in Columbus, OH, where teachers have led the way in achieving higher standards of professional practice and corresponding results for students.


Learn more

With support from the NEA Foundation, the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future prepared this 2007 report, which features key lessons generated by the NEA Foundation Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative in Hamilton County, TN.


Learn more

This report by the Harvard Education Press tells the story of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools’ transformation into a system committed to closing the achievement gap through deep and sustained reform between local unions and the district. Three related case studies are available for free download. The whole book is available for purchase from Amazon.com, among other online vendors.


Learn more

Collective bargaining shapes the way public schools are organized, financed, staffed, and operated. This publication by the Harvard Education Press offers a thorough and nuanced analysis of the available research and varied perspectives on teachers unions and collective bargaining in education.


Learn more

This handbook for union leaders, teachers and managers by the Rennie Center provides a national review of path-breaking collective-bargaining agreements, highlights strides made by districts throughout the nation, as well as best practices implemented in major urban regions.(The entire book is available for purchase from Amazon.com and other online vendors.)


Learn more

The CEC is a network of Illinois School districts and professional organizations that improves student achievement by assisting member districts and schools to become collaborative, high performing organizations. It includes over 80 member districts and partners. CEC is independent from both unions and management and has extensive work both with AFT and NEA locals in a number of progressive union leadership initiatives, including a partnership with National Louis University to prepare leaders for progressive union work.


Learn more

TURN is a nationwide network of more than 50 union locals promoting progressive reforms in education and in teacher unions - to improve student achievement, increase teacher connectivity, and elevate teachers' voices in the reform debate.


Learn more

Teaching Capacity Resources

There is growing consensus on the important role that a teacher plays in the life of a child. Below is a selection of recent research about how to build, scale and assess teaching capacity.


A cornerstone of today’s education reform movement is the generation, analysis, and use of data to improve instruction and decision-making at all levels— the classroom, school, and district. This Issue Brief focuses on efforts in Lee County, FL to embrace student input to instructional goal setting and practices.


These strategies are an outgrowth of collaboration among the School District of Lee County, the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, and the Teachers Association of Lee County (FL). They have been endorsed by union leaders, front-line educators, and district and school administrators, and demonstrate the convergence of “bottom-up” and “top-down” input to improving instructional effectiveness, a signature feature of the NEA Foundation Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative, where teachers unions, districts, and community members work together to ensure a high quality education for all students.


Learn more

This report examines the collaborative development of systems to improve the knowledge and skills of public school educators and leaders. The report studies the work in the Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative sites as well as other local initiatives that have been developed with, and not just for, educators.


Learn more

This practical toolkit, released by the Aspen Institute, lays out strategies for designing and implementing new teacher evaluation systems. Examples from districts and charter networks at the vanguard of this new work are included throughout the guide.


Learn more

This report of the Consortium on Chicago School Research summarizes findings from a two-year study of Chicago’s Excellence in Teaching Pilot, designed to drive instructional improvement by providing teachers with evidence-based feedback on their strengths and weaknesses.


Learn more

Alliance for Excellent Education’s policy brief on assessing of high quality teaching in high schools. This brief provides several recommendations for federal and state policymakers to support educator development in high schools.


Learn more

This report by the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality examines how teacher leadership can improve teacher retention, strengthen the teaching profession, build the capacity of school leaders, and facilitate innovative advances to the structure of school staffing.


Learn more

The Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) seeks to improve student learning and advance the teaching profession by cultivating teacher leadership, conducting timely research, and crafting smart policy — all in an effort to ensure that every student in America has a qualified, well-supported and effective teacher. CTQ has been a critical partner in helping the NEA Foundation to shape a coherent vision for teaching capacity building in all of its funded Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative sites.


Learn more

Learning Forward’s (previously known as the National Staff Development Council) purpose is ensuring that every educator engages in effective professional learning every day so every student achieves. Learning Forward is an international association of learning educators focused on increasing student achievement through more effective professional development.


Learn more

Parent and Community Engagement Resources

We know that involving communities is a critical piece in improving public education. A selection of relevant resources around community and parent engagement is below.


Through expanded learning opportunities (ELOs), time is being reconsidered in districts across the nation to improve student learning and increase teaching effectiveness in support of 21st century learning goals. Given the relative newness of many of ELO programs and activities, a thin research base exists about how effective ELOs are spearheaded, developed, administered and governed. The cases and analyses presented in the NEA Foundation’s newest report, “Expanding Learning Opportunities to Close the Achievement Gaps: Lessons from Union-District Collaborations,” provide examples of ELO programs that have been jointly designed and collaboratively operated by leaders from the school district, teachers' unions and community.


Learn more

Parent-teacher home visits—virtually unheard of a decade ago—are rapidly gaining national attention. They are proving to be a way of deepening trust and relationships among teachers, parents and students, and helping teachers better understand the unique academic and other needs of all of their students. This Issue Brief tells the powerful story of parent-teacher home visits in two of the Foundation’s Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative sites—Seattle, WA and Springfield, MA.

Learn more

This recent report provides a research-based framing of family engagement; examines the policy levers that can drive change in promoting systemic family, school, and community engagement; and focuses on data systems as a powerful tool to engage families for twenty-first century student learning.

Learn more

This project began in 1998 as a partnership among a faith based community organizing group, a local teachers union, and a school district in an effort to address the cycle of blame between parents and site personnel at several Sacramento schools. It has blossomed into a nationally recognized parent engagement model especially where there is a pervasive history of low student achievement, high levels of poverty, and where high percentages of children enter school as English learners. Parent Teacher home visits are currently being implemented with support from the NEA Foundation in Seattle Public Schools as a participant in the NEA Foundation's Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative.

Learn more

An important resource used by the NEA Foundation to inform its Theory of Change for closing the achievement gaps, NCPIE's mission is to advocate for the involvement of parents and families in their children's education, and to foster relationships between home, school, and community to enhance the education of all of the nation's young people. The group monitors legislation, initiates projects, and shares information and ideas about relevant research, programs, and policies.

Learn more

Created to strengthen family, school, and community partnerships, early childhood care and education, promote evaluation and accountability, and offer professional development to those who work directly with children, youth, and families. The audiences for HFRP's work include policymakers, practitioners, researchers, evaluators, philanthropists, teachers, school administrators, and concerned individuals.

Learn more


Related Content

Lessons Learned

Grant gets preschoolers talking

Lessons Learned

What students should know about culture

Watch Cross-Site Convening

Speakers talk equity, achievement

Five-year program results

Springfield Collaboration for Change

Need a grant?

Apply by February 1, 2016

A Library for Every Learner

Meet Award Winner Heather LaBarbara

No Right or Wrong Answers

Meet Award Winner Pam Wells

Watch Sixth Grade Math

Transform into Blended Learning    

An Education for All

Meet Award Winner Mohsen Ghaffari

Teaching How to Teach

Meet Award Winner Debra McDonald

Learning in a Looping Classroom

Meet Award Winner Dirk Andrews

Donate today

Giving opportunities

Previous Next