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Melissa Steel King

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Melissa Steel King
Associate Partner
Policy and Evaluation

Background: Melissa Steel King is an associate partner on the Policy and Evaluation team at Bellwether Education Partners, where her work has focused on program evaluation, teacher preparation and training, whole child development, and personalized learning. Prior to joining Bellwether, Melissa worked at SUNY Albany’s Center for Human Services Research, where she conducted evaluations of programs such as the school district’s federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, a local parenting education workshop series, and The Albany Promise, a cross-sector partnership to improve cradle-to-career outcomes for Albany students. Previously, 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. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in New York City and Boston. Melissa is deeply committed to research and analysis related to children’s social and emotional development, pre-K through 12 literacy instruction and intervention, 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. Currently, Melissa serves on the board of GreatSchools, the Communities in Schools Advisory Council, and the Executive Board of her local middle school PTA. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

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.