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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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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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Years of irresponsible budgeting practices have left the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) almost $12 billion in debt. Without significant reforms, Louisiana’s pension problems are likely to get worse, with further negative consequences for workers and schools.

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Following the first ESSA plan submissions to the U.S. Department of Education in April 2017, Bellwether Education Partners — in partnership with the Collaborative for Student Success — convened a group of 30 education experts to independently review 17 state accountability plans. During the review, the experts, who represented national and state perspectives from both sides of the aisle, identified best practices in providing a strong statewide accountability system that will help ensure a high-quality education for all students.

Because the first round of reviews was designed to help provide important context for the remaining state plans being submitted in September 2017, we conducted interim reviews of draft plans released by California and New York, using the same rubric and a process that closely mirrored our first set of reviews. We recognize that these pre-reviews represent a snapshot in time and that the states may make revisions prior to formally submitting their plans to the U.S. Department of Education. Given the size of California and New York’s diverse student populations, as well as their geographic diversity, we felt that feedback on their draft plans was important in not only strengthening these state’s final submissions, but also in providing information for other states still writing their plans.

We intend to conduct full reviews of all second-round states following their final submissions in September.

Read our reviews of the draft California and New York state plans here.

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