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Learn more about Bellwether’s work by reading our publications, news articles, press releases, and case studies.

  • Publication
    Michelle Croft
    Juliet Squire
    Alex Spurrier
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    Parents across the country continue to be concerned about their children’s academic and social-emotional well-being. Some parents are sufficiently satisfied with their children’s school and are content with a return to a pre-pandemic normal. Other parents are sufficiently dissatisfied and have already made a change, whether between schools, to home-schooling, or with supplemental learning opportunities. In between is a third group of parents — those who are frustrated and have not yet made a change, but are looking to policymakers and education leaders for solutions.

    New Solutions for Frustrated Parents: How Education Leaders Can Help offers four recommendations for policymakers and education leaders to address the discontent among parents as the 2021-22 school year comes to a close.

  • Media
    Juliet Squire
    Katrina Boone
    Paul Beach

    In partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, Bellwether Education Partners is seeking initial applications for a new grant fund designed to help families and students leverage public policy to find and engage in supplemental learning options. Applicants should have bold ideas related to ensuring that families can access supplemental learning related to their child’s needs, interests, and goals.

    Click HERE to apply.

  • Publication
    Alex Spurrier
    Michelle Croft
    Juliet Squire
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    The Parent Perception Barometer brings clarity and context to conversations about what parents think about K-12 education. From parents’ high-level perceptions about their kids’ schools to concerns about academic progress and mental health, multiple data sources provide insight into these trends. Some of the data highlight topics about which parent opinion is more divided. There is no substitute for directly engaging with parents and families to understand what educational opportunities and support they need, but this tool serves as a starting point for those working to better understand aggregated parents’ views on K-12 education, the broader landscape, and how both are evolving as the pandemic progresses.

  • Publication
    Kelly Robson Foster
    Lynne Graziano
    Juliet Squire

    In Massachusetts, state leaders created the Horace Mann charter school model as a hybrid between the charter and district sectors: These schools have much of the same flexibility as charter schools but are approved by, and remain part of, their local school districts.

    Horace Mann Charter Schools: Their Past, Present, and Promise analyzes the extent to which the Horace Mann school model lives up to its founding legislation, and outlines a set of recommendations to better support its success as well as incorporate the model into strategies for district improvement.

  • Publication
    Paul Beach
    Katrina Boone
    Juliet Squire

    To understand the needs and opportunities for supporting rural schools, Bellwether Education Partners interviewed 30 educators, nonprofit leaders, and funders and surveyed more than 80 rural district and charter school leaders in Colorado.

    Bellwether’s case study, Support for Rural Colorado Schools: How Philanthropy and Districts Came Together to Serve Students in 2020, and report, Support for Rural Colorado Schools Survey: Opportunities for Philanthropy to Address District Needs identify promising practices from funders’ early responses to the pandemic and pinpoint the most urgent needs of rural districts today, nearly two years after schools first closed their doors.

  • Publication
    Alex Spurrier
    Lynne Graziano
    Brian Robinson
    Juliet Squire

    Cover page for Expanding Educational Options: Emergent Policy Trends.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way that families and policymakers view K-12 education. Learning loss is having an outsized impact on students who were furthest from opportunity before the pandemic. And families are increasingly looking for new educational options for their children.

    Expanding Educational Options: Emergent Policy Trends examines some of the most important trends in the realm of option-expanding state policies, along with recommendations to ensure that all families have equitable access to these educational opportunities.

  • Media
    Juliet Squire

    In New York City, microschools and learning pods grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2020-21 school year due to frequent school closings. Unfortunately, New York’s current lack of public assistance programs for middle and low income families, among other factors, make their future uncertain. How can policymakers allow these alternative programs to thrive?

  • Publication
    Max Marchitello
    Andrew J. Rotherham
    Juliet Squire

    Teacher retirement plans are called “gold plated” by their proponents and critics alike, when in fact half of teachers will never see a pension at all. Only about one in five teachers gets a full pension. And in many cases retirement benefits shortchange teachers and make it harder for them to save for their retirement. In Teacher Retirement Systems: A Ranking of the States, Bellwether Education Partners ranks how state retirement systems serve U.S. teachers and taxpayers.

  • Publication
    Alex Spurrier
    Juliet Squire
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    Families continue to struggle navigating a fluid K-12 education space since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and emergence of the Delta variant. Over the last 18 months, the parents of 10.8 million did not get what they wanted from their child’s school — representing nearly one in five U.S. schoolchildren. Many families’ early concerns over access to in-person, virtual, and hybrid forms of instruction persist with the start of the 2021-22 school year. These families are not a monolith. They live in a diverse range of communities found across America, come from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, and span the socioeconomic spectrum. While some were more economically equipped to react, all have felt disruptions of the pandemic in their daily lives. The Overlooked analyzes the fundamental shift playing out among families across the country who are dealing with unresponsive systems and limited school choices this fall.

  • Publication
    Bonnie O'Keefe
    Alex Spurrier
    Jennifer O'Neal Schiess
    Hailly T.N. Korman
    Melissa Steel King
    Allison Crean Davis
    Indira Dammu
    Juliet Squire
    Ashley LiBetti

    COVID-19 has presented new challenges for schools and families to grapple with when it comes to student learning — but the pandemic also has illuminated shortcomings and missed opportunities that have long been present in our education system. Now, nearly a year after schools across the country first shut down due to the pandemic —and as more communities eye the possibility of a return to full-time, in-person learning — a new series of briefs from Bellwether offers guidance on how the education sector can recenter and rebuild in the wake of COVID-19.

    "From Pandemic to Progress: Eight Education Pathways for COVID-19 Recovery" puts forth a suite of ambitious but achievable pathways for education leaders and policymakers to follow to re-engage in complex policy questions and rebuild education as the country begins to emerge from the pandemic. Drawing on the breadth of Bellwether's unique expertise and diversity of viewpoints, this series offers a take on what we'll need in the years ahead to create a sector that can provide students with the high-quality education and supports they need and deserve to be successful.

  • Publication
    Ashley LiBetti
    Juliet Squire
    Jennifer O’Neal Schiess

    Districts across the country play a crucial role in ensuring schools effectively serve students and families. Beyond federal requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act and state-level accountability systems, locally developed school performance frameworks are a key lever for holding schools accountable, particularly for student learning and wellness. 

  • Publication
    Ashley LiBetti
    Juliet Squire
    Justin Trinidad
    Amy Chen Kulesa
    Rebecca Gifford Goldberg

    One of the greatest promises of the charter school movement has been the potential to create diverse school models to meet the varied needs of children, families, and communities. As policy makers and charter leaders have recognized the need to hold charters accountable for strong performance, however, there has been a move towards more standardized ways of evaluating the potential and performance of schools. And now, COVID-19 has upended how charter schools across the country are operating and how authorizers hold schools accountable for outcomes. This report and related toolkits shed light on what authorizing looks like in practice when fostering a diversity of school models and holding them accountable for quality.

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