Skip to main content

Publications and Media

News and Press

You are here

Publications & Media

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

  • Publication

    Bellwether pairs policy and practice to deliver durable solutions for our clients and bold ideas for the education field.

  • Publication
    Kaitlin Pennington McVey
    Justin Trinidad

    National dialogue about teacher shortages is skewed by a flawed view that the issue is one generic problem. Reports in the 1980s and ’90s predicted a national teacher shortage crisis, but since then, teacher supply has actually kept up with student enrollment, creating a much less dire situation across subject areas. Today, shortages are a more localized issue.

    In "Nuance in the Noise: The Complex Reality of Teacher Shortages" we analyze the U.S. Department of Education’s national data on teacher shortage areas reported by individual states and territories between the 1998-99 and 2017-18 school years. While our analysis confirms the existence of certain national trends, the data also show that there are significant differences in teacher shortages by subject area and across states due to a mismatch between teacher supply and demand.

    Frequently reported shortage areas for many states include special education, mathematics, science, and English as a second language. Less discussed subject areas, including foreign languages, career technologies, and the arts, were also frequently reported as shortages. Importantly, our analysis focuses on where and in which subject area shortages exist with the most consistency over time rather than the magnitude of need.

    Existing solutions to address unique teacher shortage needs include offering financial incentives, reforming teacher licensure systems, diversifying teacher preparation pathways, and using retention strategies. However, these solutions are not being adopted at scale likely due to a lack of understanding of acute teacher shortage challenges. For the education sector to fully understand the specifics of teacher shortages, districts, states, and the federal government must develop better and more consistent data collection and reporting.

  • Publication
    Ashley LiBetti
    Phillip Burgoyne-Allen
    Brandon Lewis
    Kirsten Schmitz

    "The State of the Charter Sector" provides the latest available information on charter schools across the country, including updated data on growth, performance, and geographic trends. It also includes analyses of the challenges that charter schools face and how the sector is trying to address them.
    Title image for Bellwether slide deck

  • Publication
    Kelly Robson
    Juliet Squire
    Lynne Graziano

    "Fairness in Facilities" takes a look at recent district and charter school construction projects in three Idaho communities and finds that charter schools are building facilities at a similar cost per square foot as district schools, but at a much lower cost per seat. Moreover, the facilities funding that public schools have access to is not equal across the sector.
    Title image for Bellwether publication

  • Publication
    Ashley LiBetti

    "Let the Research Show" digs into the research on how an early educator’s preparation affects their effectiveness in the classroom — and ultimately finds that there are no clear answers about what high-quality teacher preparation looks like.
    Title image for Bellwether publication

  • Publication
    Lynne Graziano
    Jason Weeby
    Tanya Paperny
    Sara Mead

    How do you build a continuously improving system of schools? Eight Cities is a new website from Bellwether Education Partners that provides stories from education leaders in eight cities who have moved more students into better schools.

    Title image for Bellwether website

  • Publication
    Hailly T.N. Korman
    Kelly Robson

  • Publication
    Max Marchitello

    What effect does spending on educator benefits, such as pensions and healthcare, have on district and state K-12 education budgets? In a new report, “Benefits Take Larger Bite out of District K-12 Education Budgets,” we track ten years of spending data in nearly 14,000 districts across the country. The results are alarming.

    Our analysis shows that nationally benefit spending consumes a greater share of K-12 spending overall in 2014 than it did in 2005. Nationally, 19 percent of K-12 spending goes toward benefits, an increase of more than 3 percentage points. At the low end, some states devote as little as 8 percent of their spending toward employee benefits, whereas at the high end, some states devote more than 30 percent of their K-12 budgets toward benefits. All but three states saw the share of their spending dedicated to benefits increase in the window of our analysis.

    Overall, state education budgets increased only 1.6 percent from 2005 to 2014, after adjusting for inflation. In contrast, over the same period benefit spending increased 22 percent. This pattern holds in many states. In fact, 23 states effectively sent less money to the classrooms in 2014 than they did in 2005 due to the combination of stagnant or decreasing investments in K-12 education and burgeoning benefit costs.

    This should worry teachers and legislators alike. Indeed, a considerable amount of benefit spending goes to pay down debt rather than for current employee benefits. That is, the higher spending is not translating into more valuable pensions or more generous healthcare benefits. And legislators may be frustrated that their investments in K-12 education are not reaching classrooms.

    The problem of rising benefit costs will continue and likely grow for the foreseeable future. There are no easy fixes to these problems, but it will be critical for legislators to find solutions that balance paying down past obligations with contributing to the education of current students.
    cover of Bellwether slide deck

  • Publication
    Ashley LiBetti
    Justin Trinidad

    Historically, new teachers have received limited exposure to life in the classroom. “Trading Coursework for Classroom: Realizing the Potential of Teacher Residencies” outlines a promising deviation from this structure.
    cover of Bellwether publication

  • Publication
    Jason Weeby

    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.

    gif of screenshots from the

  • Publication
    Hailly T.N. Korman
    Justin Trinidad

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

    cover of Bellwether slide deck

  • Publication
    Kelly Robson
    Kaitlin Pennington
    Juliet Squire

    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.
    cover of Bellwether slide deck

Pages