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Melissa Steel King

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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Melissa Steel King
Associate Partner
Policy and Thought Leadership

Background: Melissa Steel King is an associate partner at Bellwether. Since joining the Policy and Thought Leadership team in 2015, her work has focused on teacher preparation and training, personalized learning, and program evaluation. Previously, Melissa worked at SUNY Albany’s Center for Human Services Research (CHSR), where her projects included evaluation of the Albany school district’s federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, facilitation of school improvement planning with Albany High School, and data management and evaluation for The Albany Promise, a cross-sector partnership to improve cradle-to-career outcomes for Albany students. Prior to joining CHSR, Melissa conducted effectiveness research on pre-k through 12 curricula in the Research and Validation Department at Scholastic Inc., and worked as a trainer and evaluator for a social and ethical awareness program in Boston public schools. Melissa’s work has included research and analysis related to pre-k through 12 literacy instruction and intervention, children’s social and emotional development, quality of implementation of instructional programs, and school improvement.  
Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and a master’s in elementary education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She completed her doctorate in education in human development and psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in New York City and Boston.

Why I do this work: As the descendant of generations of educators in both Ghana and the United States, I grew up believing in the power of education as a vehicle for social change. My experiences as a teacher and researcher in urban American schools brought home to me how much still needs to be done to deliver meaningful educational opportunities to the children who need it most. Through my work I hope to help ensure that, from the classroom to the halls of government, our schools and communities offer all children access to high quality education.

Recent Media

Ashley LiBetti
Melissa Steel King

Every year, new teachers collectively spend about $4.8 billion on their training requirements, nearly all of which goes to teacher preparation programs. Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether that is money well-spent.

In "A New Agenda: Research to Build a Better Teacher Preparation Program," we argue that a new approach — focused on rigorous, actionable research — is critical to driving improvement in teacher preparation. To create that body of research, the field needs:

  • systems that link completer performance data to preparation programs, make those data publicly accessible, and maintain individual privacy;
  • research methods that use those data to produce actionable strategies and effective practices to improve program design; and
  • policies that incentivize programs to evaluate the effectiveness of their model and adopt new, evidence-based practices.

The end result should be a body of rigorous research that explores a multitude of possible improvement strategies, testing which components of program design are effective, for whom, and under what circumstances. Until those pieces are in place, the quality of teacher preparation will remain stagnant. America’s teachers and students deserve better.