Schools and communities across the nation are looking at new ways to provide education to students. One option available to schools is to contract with a private-practice teacher for instruction.

Private-practice teachers are professional educators who provide their services to schools or other entities, on a contract basis. Contracting with a private-practice educator can help school officials strengthen accountability, cut costs, and increase flexibility. Using contracting, schools can also take advantage of outside expertise and innovation.

In turn, the contract arrangement elevates the professional status of teachers. Contracting with a private-practice teacher requires school officials to deal with educators on a professional basis. Private practice enables teachers to take control of their own careers, negotiate their own compensation, and make their own decisions about how to use time, resources, and methodologies.

Most teachers graduating from education schools do not have the variety of professional opportunities available to them as do graduates of other disciplines. Nor are they offered the same kinds of opportunities for career growth. Private practice changes that by broadening career options for teachers.

This study profiles the experiences of a number of private-practice educators and discusses the benefits that schools may realize by contracting for instruction. In addition, this study presents results from two national surveys about the legal authority of school boards to contract for instruction and also provides a chart to help administrators identify the fully allocated costs of in-house and contract service.