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Does your child attend a great public school?

NEA’s GPS indicators help navigate the criteria needed to ensure a great public school

WASHINGTON - October 22, 2013 -

Parents want their children to attend a great school, and every student deserves a quality education. But how do you really know if a school is meeting its students’ needs? NEA has made it easy by releasing its Great Public Schools (GPS) Indicators Framework.

GPS Indicators represent an evidence-based set of factors deemed critical to the success of our nation’s public schools. The primary objective of the GPS Indicators is to highlight the strengths and weaknesses in states’ support of their public schools.

“All students have a basic right to a great public school. Our vision of what great public schools need and should provide acknowledges that the world is changing, and public education is changing, too,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “For a school to meet the GPS criteria requires the continued commitment of educators, parents and community leaders who share our belief that public education must prepare every student to succeed.”

The GPS Indicators should be used as a vehicle for conversations about how to improve schools in practical terms, to close opportunity gaps and to ensure that all educators and schools have the resources and tools they need to get the job done with the help of families and their communities. The GPS Indicators Framework provides a comprehensive view of the policies and practices that educators, families and community stakeholders can advocate for together. The seven GPS criteria are: 1) School Readiness; 2) Standards and Curriculum; 3) Conditions of Teaching and Learning; 4) Workforce Quality; 5) Accountability and Assessments; 6) Family and Community Engagement; and 7) School Funding.

School Readiness
Do the school and community offer quality programs and services that meet the full range of my child’s needs? Is there access to high-quality early childhood education? Does the state fund full-day kindergarten?
Read about how Minnesota is preparing its earliest learners.

Standards and Curriculum
Does the school have high expectations and standards with a rigorous curriculum for all of its students? Do all educators in the district have access to resources and professional development? Does the state require educator involvement in developing implementation plans for standards and curriculum?
Let’s not forget about our paraeducators when talking about Common Core State Standards.

Conditions of Teaching and Learning
Do the existing conditions promote lifelong learning? Do the districts provide ample time and resources for instructional support? Do the districts have a good handle on the school climate and student engagement? Do they have programs to address safety issues such as bullying?
When it comes to classes, size does matter. Read about how one California teacher brought smaller class sizes to her school.

Workforce Quality
Is there a qualified, caring, diverse and stable workforce? Does the state support recruitment of promising future educators from diverse backgrounds?
Maryland public schools are some of the best in the country. How did they get there?

Accountability and Assessments
Is there a shared responsibility by stakeholders at all levels to use a comprehensive picture of school performance rather than a snapshot on one day? Is the high school graduation rate on the rise? Do students participate in programs that promote 21st century skills, such as financial literacy? Do students have access to coursework designed to prepare them for college and careers?
Check out what Seattle schools are doing to reform evaluations.

Family and Community Engagement
Are the student body’s families and community members involved and engaged? Does the district provide extended onsite services for students and their families? Are there existing partnerships with community groups?
Engaged families and communities can make a difference.

School Funding
Is the school fully funded to make sure each student can meet state standards? Is the funding used to meet the needs of all students? Is the budget transparent?
Unfortunately, ZIP codes do matter when it comes to funding.

NEA’s Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle moderated a GPS Indicators symposium earlier this month, which focused on “mobilizing to ensure opportunity, equity and success for every student.” Pringle, along with numerous education and community leaders, discussed a variety of ways to use the GPS Indicators as a vehicle for stakeholders’ conversations about how to improve schools in practical terms, to close opportunity gaps and to ensure that all educators and schools have the resources and tools they need to get the job done with the help of families and their communities.

“We have to surround our students with quality services, programs, and professionals, and prepare them using rigorous standards and a rich curriculum.” said Pringle. “It’s time for the adults in our schools, communities, and legislatures to take responsibility for our students’ success. It is time to reclaim our professions and public education. It’s time now to storm the castle!”

To learn more about the GPS Indicators visit

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 822-7823,