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Publications

With permission from Democracy Prep Public School

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Publications

Ideas matter. In addition to our work with clients, Bellwether Education Partners generates and gathers ideas and policy solutions, analyzes ongoing reform efforts, and writes about and discusses education and education reform. We believe that the work we do to improve education for all students benefits from thought leadership, analysis, and thoughtful discourse around emerging ideas, in order to help challenge leaders and leading organizations to think differently and improve, to coordinate efforts where possible, to inform policymakers and improve the political and policy context, and to share successful approaches with the public education field at large.

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Teaching is one of very few professions that expects new employees to be masters of their craft — where they handle all of the responsibilities of long-serving veterans — on their first day on the job. Historically, new teachers have received limited exposure to life in the classroom. Even today, most traditional preparation programs require new teachers to spend only 12 weeks in the classroom before becoming a full-time teacher. “Trading Coursework for Classroom: Realizing the Potential of Teacher Residencies” outlines a promising deviation from this structure. Teacher residents receive almost all of their training in their future job site: they spend at least a year in a pre-K through 12 classroom under the guidance of a highly effective mentor teacher and take coursework that is tightly linked to and builds upon their experiences in the classroom.
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Design Methods for Education Policy is a new website that curates 54 human-centered research methods from organizations like IDEO, Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, and Nesta that are particularly well-suited to education policy work.

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How can multiple systems and services effectively serve young people experiencing homelessness, foster care placement, incarceration, or unmet mental or physical health needs?

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Teachers’ unions are a powerful force in local, state, and federal politics, but Janus vs. the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) could change that. At the heart of this case is a key source of union revenue: agency fees. This analysis offers an accurate and objective set of information to those wanting to inform their understanding of this historic case.
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Every two years, the Office for Civil Rights, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, conducts a civil rights data collection that includes information about school demographics, course enrollment, discipline, and other measures of school-based experience. In 2013, the office collected data from schools identified as juvenile justice schools for the first time. These schools serve only students placed in secure facilities by law enforcement or courts, and there are approximately 50,000 young people across the country in these on any given day.

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As school districts across the country report various kinds of teacher shortages, how to retain teachers has emerged as a key area of interest for district leaders and policymakers. There are a variety of incentives and strategies to keep teachers in the profession, but which ones are most effective? Asking teachers themselves yields answers, some of which cut against the grain of conventional wisdom in the education community.

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A new profile highlights the co-teaching approach for dual language learners (DLLs) at Community of Peace Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota. The school’s approach holds lessons for other Minnesota schools and for teacher preparation policies in the state at large.

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This report makes the case that the education system can serve as an effective through-line for children and youth experiencing traumatic life experiences by using two key levers for change: continuity of people and continuity of information.

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Most educators are women, and yet male educators outearn women in terms of annual salaries and retirement benefits. Given that school districts typically operate with uniform salary schedules that, on their face, appear neutral, it may be surprising to see gaps emerge along gender and racial lines. Yet, our two new reports show that uniform salary schedules are not sufficient to ensure gender and racial equity. In fact, there are salary inequities that have serious consequences beyond their regular paychecks — they also translate to lower retirement benefits.


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cover of Creating More Effective, Efficient, and Equitable Education Policies with Human-Centered DesignHuman-centered design is an approach to creating solutions for problems and opportunities through a focus on the needs, contexts, behaviors, and emotions of the people that the solutions will serve. For years, it has been used to create and re-create products, services, and experiences such as doors, hospital visits, and breast pumps. More recently, public agencies have begun to use human-centered design methods to define problems, generate solutions, and test them to improve the services that they deliver. Some governments have even created innovation offices that serve as in-house design consultants and train other employees to integrate human-centered approaches into their daily work.

Increasingly, designers and public leaders are beginning to apply human-centered design methods to the creation of public policies themselves. So what would it look like if human-centered design methods were applied to the creation of education policies? Can a process created for products and services in the private sector improve how education policies are created and implemented?

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