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Publications & Resources

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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Though not widely known, Ohio teachers have three retirement options: a traditional pension plan, a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan, and a hybrid plan that combines features of both. A large majority of teachers are in the pension plan—the result of either an affirmative choice or by default, not having selected a specific plan at the beginning of their careers. But is the pension option the best choice for most teachers?

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It’s 2020. Do you know where 3 million students are?

By mid-March 2020, most American schools had shut their doors, and about half remain fully or partially closed to in-person learning today. For approximately 3 million of the most educationally marginalized students in the country, March might have been the last time they experienced any formal education — virtual or in-person.

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Around the country, advocates for education equity are paying increased attention to the critical importance of early math skills. Driven by research showing that foundational math knowledge is even more predictive of later school success than literacy, a growing movement is focused on promoting young children’s math skills in both early care settings and at home.

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COVID-19 has altered education as we know it, and no one school has found the perfect approach to distance learning. However, some schools more quickly adopted promising practices in response to common challenges, offering lessons for other schools seeking to improve their distance learning models.

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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. 

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As more schools prepare students for a high school diploma and college and career readiness, how are states tracking the effectiveness of these programs? Are states tracking the right measures, like whether students are taking and passing advanced courses, completing industry certifications, or pursuing other work-based learning opportunities?

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Great charter school authorizers believe in the charter school promise and relentlessly pursue excellence to give every child an educational option that meets their needs.

In the wake of COVID-19, authorizers have an opportunity to rethink approaches to measuring student success and wellness. In this new collection of resources, Bellwether worked with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers to look at what new and better measures charter school authorizers can use to ensure student learning, school performance, and quality,

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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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Over the last 25 years, the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) has invested nearly $5.3 billion into the charter school sector, directing funds to schools in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Approximately 60% of students in CSP grantee schools are from low-income backgrounds and 64% are Black or Hispanic. The CSP has played a critical role in helping the charter sector grow to its current size, serving 3.3 million students in 7,500 schools nationwide. This publication offers an in-depth analysis of the CSP and how it has evolved to better meet the needs of charter schools and the families and communities they serve.

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As a global pandemic interrupted purposefully designed systems of testing and accountability, we are left with critical questions: How does the underlying theory of standards-based accountability and its foundational goals of equity and transparency hold up decades later? What do key stakeholders need from these systems now? Given what we’ve learned from decades of successes and failures, how should these systems continue to evolve in the face of mounting political opposition?

Bellwether's series takes a step back to examine the past, present, and future of modern school accountability systems. We've also added three short resources to help state policymakers, advocates, and school and district leaders apply the lessons and ideas from these briefs to their work. Read the newest brief and takeaways at the link below:

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