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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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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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Early childhood experts and advocates have long called for increasing the education and training of U.S. early childhood workers, and over the past two decades, policymakers have gradually increased credentialing requirements for teachers in Head Start and state-funded pre-K programs. The 2015 report from the National Academies Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation essentially endorsed that trend, recommending that states and other organizations build a system that requires and enables all lead educators in early childhood settings to hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with specialized knowledge and competencies in early childhood education. In 2017 New America and Bellwether Education Partners brought together experts to discuss the group of educators who are poised to achieve this: lead pre-K educators who are teaching three- and four-year-olds in publicly funded classrooms within early learning centers and elementary schools.

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While there has been extensive debate about mandating degree requirements for early childhood educators, little of this debate has focused on the type of programs early childhood educators are likely to attend, let alone the quality of these programs. It Takes a Community: Leveraging Community Colleges to Transform the Early Childhood Workforce examines the critical role community colleges currently play in preparing early childhood educators and envisions the role these institutions should play in ongoing efforts to transform the early childhood workforce.

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School districts across the country are reporting difficulties in hiring high-quality teachers, and states are being asked to respond. Our new slide deck, "Teacher Supply and Demand: How States Track Shortage Areas," surveys the landscape of how states track information on teacher supply and demand.

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Bellwether Education Partners was founded in 2010 with the vision of a world in which race, ethnicity, and income no longer predict outcomes for students. Fast forward seven years, and we've accomplished so much.

Our first-ever annual report shares more about what we do and why people love working here. Check out the multimedia website here.

screenshot of Bellwether's 2017 annual report

We hope you’ll enjoy reading our story!

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Our new report, Primetime for Coaching: Improving Instructional Coaching in Early Childhood Education, seeks to help policymakers and practitioners alike make informed decisions about early childhood education coaching programs and uncovers successes, challenges, and opportunities for improvement.

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The 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) ushered in a new era for state accountability systems. ESSA provided states an opportunity to help all students succeed by rethinking both how they identify schools that need to improve, and how those schools might be improved. The law requires states to submit a formal plan to the Department of Education for peer review and then begin implementing that plan in the 2017-18 school year. Read our findings after reviewing the accountability plans for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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America’s school transportation system needs work. To help people understand why we should be thinking differently about school transportation, we created a simple, three-minute video:

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Delving into findings from a local initiative to align and improve pre-K to third grade education reveals broadly applicable lessons on supporting teachers and leaders, in Minnesota and beyond.

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