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Teacher and School Leader Quality

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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A growing body of evidence confirms that teacher and leader effectiveness are the two most important in-school factors in student achievement. Yet there is still considerable debate about how to promote high-quality teaching, especially in hard-to-staff schools and subjects, and about the characteristics that constitute an effective teacher or school leader.
Bellwether’s work addresses the full continuum of teacher and leader quality issues, including preparation, development, evaluation, and compensation. We use data to promote innovative yet feasible policy solutions to ensure that all students have access to effective instruction and all schools have high-performing leaders at the helm.

In addition to our philanthropically supported field-facing policy work, we have advised state education agencies, advocates, funders, and practitioners working to improve teacher and leader quality and preparation. We have worked directly with school operators and service providers to ensure their talent pipelines are robust and well equipped to attract, retain, and grow teachers and school leaders. Our deep experience working with a range of education organizations on teacher and leader quality issues informs our policy work in these areas.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:


July 19, 2016
Jennifer Schiess, Kelly Robson, Carolyn Chuong, Kaitlin Pennington
To ensure that the public education system delivers on its promise of great outcomes for all kids, we need a shared understanding of the facts to...
February 2, 2016
Chad Aldeman and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel
Schools increasingly rely on new teachers to staff their classrooms. A generation ago, the modal teacher had 15 years teaching experience, meaning...
August 6, 2015
U.S. News & World Report -- The emerging teacher shortages in California and other states offer a warning about the future of the teaching...
July 28, 2015
Sara Mead, Chad Aldeman, Carolyn Chuong, and Julie Obbard
After years of cuts to the teaching workforce, California districts are beginning to hire again. This positive change is offset, however, by the...
February 2, 2015
Sara Mead, Carolyn Chuong, Caroline Goodson
Over the past 15 years, Teach For America has grown to a scale, and at a pace, that is virtually unprecedented in education and the domestic...

Blog Posts

February 1, 2017
Kaitlin Pennington
Students are not learning, but teachers are told they’re doing their jobs effectively. This oxymoron is not new in American education, but...
June 2, 2016
Kaitlin Pennington
During the 2016 legislative session, several states’ bills attacked the use of student growth as part of teachers’ evaluations. While many...
February 24, 2016
Kaitlin Pennington
Did states and districts move on teacher evaluation policy because of readiness or was movement a response to federal pressure? What will...