As a state and a nation, we've tried many indirect ways to "leverage instruction." We've tried improved funding, testing, accountability for testing, added requirements (for instance, primary and ESS), and added freedom from requirements (including SBDM in Kentucky and charter schools elsewhere)--always hoping and expecting that teaching quality would result.
The McKinsey report on the world's top school systems makes a convincing case that improved learning only comes from direct work on improved teaching, work done in recruiting, in pre-professional programs, and on the job with the teachers of each school through collaboration, professional development, and engaged instructional leadership. Michael Barber backed that view up strongly in his June presentation to the Prichard Committee. (You can find a round-up of the June posts on these ideas here)
Russellville Independent's working on just that quality issue right now. The News-Democrat & Leader reports on the district's "Modeling Exemplary Practice Student & Teacher Academy" here, which allows new teachers (and some veterans) to observe some of the district's strongest teachers at work and think through how the effective techniques worked. the short, impressive account, worth wide attention is here, and I'd love to know, some months hence, how teachers are doing at taking great ideas from others and making them a consistent part of their own practice. (Hat tip: KSBA news service)