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

  • Media
    Sara Mead

    The No Child Left Behind rewrite should take steps to ease the tensions between accountability and personalized learning.

  • Media
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    The Senate's bipartisan education reform plan would undermine the goal of education equality.

  • Publication
    Anne Hyslop
    Sara Mead

    Personalized learning transforms students’ daily experiences so that they are customized to their individual needs and strengths. It is rooted in the expectation that students should progress through content based on demonstrated learning instead of seat time.


    By contrast, standards-based accountability centers its ideas about what students should know, and when, on grade-level expectations and pacing. The result is that as personalized learning models become more widespread, practitioners are increasingly encountering tensions between personalized learning and state and federal accountability structures.

    This paper seeks to help policymakers enable smart innovation and safeguard key accountability functions. By understanding the development of personalized learning and accountability, and articulating the tensions building between them, policymakers can create future accountability policies that work with personalized learning approaches and not against them.

    Read more ...

    Read Sara Mead's Op-Ed at U.S. News & World Report.

  • Media
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    For a lot of young people spring weather is just another reminder that high school is basically over and it’s OK to check out. I attended a well-regarded suburban high school and still spent too much of my senior spring skipping school to ski, hike, hang out at a local waterfall and do some less wholesome things I’ll probably deny if my own kids ask about them. Meanwhile, at the other end of the educational chain a lot of parents are struggling; not with how to spend those first warm sunny days but how to afford high-quality preschool education for their 4-year-olds.

  • Media
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    What’s in this spring in public education? Apparently it’s students opting out of state standardized tests.

    If you just read hysterical press accounts you might think parents are refusing state standardized tests at a fantastic clip. In fact, for the overwhelming majority of schools and students it’s business as usual. In a few affluent communities opting out of the new Common Core tests is a thing. “Everyone is talking about it at Whole Foods” says one disgusted New York education figure. But so far the opt out craze is more noise than signal.

  • Publication

    What is the Urban School System of the Future?
    The Urban School System of the Future (TUSSF) is a new approach to delivering, organizing, governing, and continuously improving urban K-12 education. School performance, parental preferences, and community needs take precedence. They work together to expand and diversify the educational options available to families and in the process create dynamic, responsive, high-performing, and self-improving urban systems of schools.

  • Media
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    One of the interesting things about my job is that wealthy people ask me for ideas about how best to use their resources to improve America’s schools. There are plenty of important issues demanding attention: overhauling the sorry state of teacher preparation and teacher policy (I wrote an entire guidebook about that), giving low-income Americans more educational choice and improving educational finance are three obvious ones. But, to the consternation of colleagues in the education world, I don’t first suggest those or other specific education issues.

  • Media
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    It’s frustrating when college administrators say they can’t really do a lot to boost graduation rates for first-in-family college students or poor students. The challenges are real, but a short walk down to the athletic department reveals some strategies that are working. All those supports that are provided to athletes as a matter of course can be the difference between success and failure for at-risk students for whom life at college is often alien and chaotic.

  • Media
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    Let's stipulate that it would be better all around if Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had finished college – especially because he apparently came close to graduating from Marquette. It would be better for his advisers, because issues besides Walker’s non-degree might get attention. (Although after Walker’s past week, the academic credential issue probably looks better all the time.) It would be better for Democrats because they wouldn’t come off as snobs talking about the issue. Who knows, it might even be better for Walker himself.

  • Media
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    The education reform world is increasingly obsessed with “diversity.” Organizations and individuals are struggling to ensure people with different racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds have a place in the conversation about how to improve our schools. Although these efforts range from serious and thoughtful to plainly exhibitionist, it’s an important conversation – especially because public schools have never worked particularly well for minority students.

  • Media
    Chad Aldeman

    Yes, test quality must be better than it is today. And, yes, teachers and parents have a right to be alarmed when unnecessary tests designed only for school benchmarking or teacher evaluations cut into instructional time. But annual testing has tremendous value. It lets schools follow students’ progress closely, and it allows for measurement of how much students learn and grow over time, not just where they are in a single moment.

  • Publication
    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 nonprofit sector more generally. From 2000 to 2014, the number of Teach for America corps members rose nearly tenfold, the number of alumni increased even more rapidly, and the organization expanded from a handful of communities to 50 cities and rural areas nationally. In the process, it became both the nation’s largest source of new teachers and the largest single recipient of philanthropic funding for K-12 education. Even as it grew, however, Teach For America also sought to increase the impact of its corps members and alumni by improving its approach to corps member recruitment, selection, preparation, and support, and by supporting alumni to take on increased leadership in education.

    The strategies Teach For America used to both grow in scale and improve in quality offer numerous lessons for other education organizations seeking to increase their impact on education, as well as for policymakers, funders, and nonprofits outside of education.

    In a new report, Bellwether’s Sara Mead, Carolyn Chuong, and Caroline Goodson describe the history of Teach For America’s growth over the past 15 years, the challenges and opportunities it has faced, the strategies it has adopted in response to those challenges and opportunities, and the lessons it has learned.

    Learn more ...

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