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

  • Media
    Chad Aldeman
    Leslie Kan

    Public school teachers face plenty of uncertainty. It's a challenging profession that demands patience without guarantees of success. If that weren't enough, many Colorado teachers are flying without a net when it comes to their retirement.

  • Publication
    Lars D. Johnson
    Ashley LiBetti Mitchel
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    Many administrators and educators in rural America believe federal education policy is not designed for rural districts, and that consideration of policy’s unique impact on rural districts is not a priority.

  • Publication
    Leslie Kan
    Chad Aldeman

    Retirement savings are often described as a three-legged stool: Social Security, employer retirement plans, and personal savings. For many American workers, Social Security is the most consistent portion of the three-legged model, providing a solid plank of retirement savings.


    But nationwide, more than 1 million teachers — about 40 percent of all public K–12 teachers — are not covered by Social Security. In Uncovered: Social Security, Retirement Uncertainty, and 1 Million Teachers, Leslie Kan and Chad Aldeman analyze the consequences of this policy choice. Teachers without Social Security coverage face substantial uncertainty and must rely more heavily on their employer retirement plans (state pensions) and personal savings.


    Unfortunately, state pension plans leave too many teachers unprotected. According to an analysis of state pension plans’ own assumptions, half of today’s new teachers will not stay in a single pension system long enough to qualify for a pension when they retire. Even for teachers who do qualify, the existing structures offer minimal benefits even to those who stay for 10, 15, or even 20-plus years. The subsequent reality: many teachers not covered by Social Security are left with inadequate retirement savings from their time in the classroom.


    At a time when an increasing number of states struggle with teacher recruitment and policymakers are concerned about retirement security more generally, states should look for ways to provide all teachers with secure retirement benefits. Social Security is not sufficient as a stand-alone retirement program. The authors offer case studies from three hypothetical teachers of varying experience levels to show that all teachers, however, would benefit from Social Security coverage as one component of a comprehensive retirement plan.


    Download the full report here, or read a condensed PowerPoint version here.

  • Publication
    Juliet Squire
    Kelly Robson
    Andy Smarick

    In 1997, the Buckeye State embraced a new approach to public-education delivery, launching a pilot program of community (charter) schools. Since then, the state's community schools sector has grown tremendously. During the 2013-14 school year, 390 schools served approximately 124,000 students—seven percent of students statewide.

  • Media
    Alicia Caldwell

    Denver Post -- In a cleverly named 2014 report, "Friends Without Benefits" (Andrew) Rotherham and co-author Chad Aldeman paint the existing pension system as out of step with a more mobile workforce of teachers that may work in the profession for a few, five or 10 years before moving on.

  • Media
    Carolyn Chuong

    Contrary to claims that recent teacher evaluation reforms are leading to strict, one-size-fits-all policies, state-level data actually suggests local districts are implementing state-based teacher evaluation reforms inconsistently. Using data from Colorado and Florida, Bellwether's Carolyn Chuong shares findings.

  • Media
    Chad Aldeman

    Despite the development of new teacher evaluation systems in recent years, teacher evaluation ratings are still too often divorced from what happens to students and how much they learn. Bellwether's Chad Aldeman discusses how districts rarely make consequential decisions about teachers based on their on-the-job performance.

  • Publication
    Chad Aldeman
    Carolyn Chuong

    Over the last four years, states implemented remarkable changes to their teacher evaluation systems. Rather than rating all educators as either “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory,” school districts use new multi-tiered evaluation systems to identify their best (and weakest) teachers. States now require districts to incorporate measurements of student academic growth and rubrics from higher-quality classroom observations into their ratings of teachers and principals. And teachers and principals are starting to receive financial incentives or face potential consequences based on these evaluation results.

    But after the initial rush of reforms, progress stalled. The rollout of new evaluation policies slowed down as districts faced implementation challenges and increasing public backlash against teacher evaluation reforms.

    In "Teacher Evaluations in an Era of Rapid Change: From 'Unsatisfactory' to 'Needs Improvement,'" Chad Aldeman and Carolyn Chuong examine the ongoing effort to revamp teacher evaluations. After collecting and synthesizing data from 17 states and the District of Columbia, they provide five major lessons for policymakers.

    To read about the new evaluation systems and the preliminary lessons for policymakers, download the full report here.

  • Publication
    Sara Mead

    As our nation’s largest preschool program—and the only one exclusively focused on the poorest children—Head Start plays a critical role in our nation’s early earning and development system, and it will continue to do so. As policymakers seek to extend the benefits of quality preschool to more children, improving Head Start must be part of these efforts.

  • Media
    Carolyn Chuong

    Change and disruption is taking place within schools as students and teachers explore the intersection between instruction and technology. But products and tools are just one piece of the puzzle. A new report by Bellwether Education looks at how state and local policies play a critical role in either inhibiting or supporting new forms of personalized learning. Bellwether’s Carolyn Chuong shares a preview of the report (and an accompanying infographic).

  • Publication
    Carolyn Chuong
    Sara Mead

    A new generation of education technology is gaining traction in America’s schools. Yet the most highly touted uses of education technology barely scratch the surface of its potential impact on education. Bellwether Education Partners’ Policy Playbook for Personalized Learning is designed to help state and local policymakers identify the policy changes needed to expand access to quality personalized learning in their states and communities, and to give them the tools to make those changes.

  • Publication
    Dan Goldhaber and Cyrus Grout

    The implication of the experience in Washington State is that teacher pension systems can be reformed in a way that is attractive to both teachers and states and ensures that significant resources are being set aside for teacher retirements.

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