The following is a list of recent resources for those focused on the professional improvement of teachers, principals, and other educational leaders.

ESSA: What does it mean for you and school leadership?—UCEA is hosting a webinar scheduled with Charles Doolittle from ED at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, Thursday, February 2, to discuss funding streams in ESSA available to university-based prep and offer insight on what the new administration means for school leadership.

UCEA Reflects Best Research on High Quality Principal PreparationUCEA Program Design & Practice Reflects the Best Research on High Quality Principal Preparation “Quality matters in school leadership preparation. We should recognize, support and learn from those institutions that are leading the field by using data and a culture of continuous improvement.

A Deeper Look: INSPIRE Data Demonstrates Quality in Educational Leadership Preparation, synthesizes data drawn from a valid and reliable program evaluation survey – the INSPIREPreparation Program Survey. The primary goal of the INSPIRE Surveys is to provide a source of data for program faculty to critically evaluate their program in order to engage in productive changes for improvement, accreditation, and stakeholder support. A Deeper Look advances the national conversation about educational leadership preparation by offering unique and reliable data.

More Teachers Seek National Certification—There’s been an uptick in teachers pursuing advanced certification through a leaner, simpler process. In 2013, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards announced a series of changes to make the certification process cheaper and more streamlined. (Education Week, January 10)

Open Enrollment: Overview and 2016 legislative update by Education Commission of the States President Jeremy Anderson.  This policy analysis provides an overview of open-enrollment policies across the country, as well as a 2016 state-by-state legislative update.

Education Department Withdraws Proposed Title I Spending Rule—The Education Department on Wednesday withdrew proposed regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act meant to ensure that poor and minority students get their fair share of state and local education funding. (Politico, January 18)

Be Prepared, Be Persistent, Keep Practicing  Research into what makes a better teacher shows, not surprisingly, that it’s practice, practice, practice. Teacher candidates need coursework, to watch master teachers, quality feedback and classroom management skills, but “research in cognitive and developmental psychology suggests that for adults to learn complex skills (as needed in teaching) they must learn in situations similar to what they will encounter.” Evidently, practice does lead to proficiency (Holdheide, American Institutes for Research).

The Right Match: A Strong Principal in Every Public School—This report by Chicago Public Education Fund shows how Chicago Public Schools focuses on keeping great principals by hiring the right ones from the start.

ESSA Thinkers Meeting Insights: Process is key to developing state plans, summarizes big-picture ideas captured during Education Commission of the States’ ESSA Thinkers Meeting and also provides state examples and additional resources.

The Path to Shared School Leadership  What does it take to move a good school to a great school? Some would argue empowering teachers and students is the key to the puzzle. When Boston Public School,Phineas Bates, moved to a shared leadership style the school saw significant improvement. Third grade teacher, Michael Macchi, reveals how a school can get started down this empowering path. (Huffington Post)

More Men of Color Are Teaching in New York City Classrooms as City Works to Boost Overall Retention and Recruitment  The Department of Education hired 600 men of color to teach this school year — up by about 100 over the previous year. Thanks in part to efforts like NYC Men Teach, a recruitment and training initiative spearheaded by Mayor Bill de Blasio, roughly 10 percent of all teachers hired this year were men who are black, Hispanic or Asian.(Chalkbeat, January 26)

NYCLA recently did a webinar on Leading for Equity and Access. Below are resources from the event. Most helpful may be to take a look at the document titled, NYCLA Principal Supervisor Standard 5, which includes behaviors and actions.

Common Core Revisions: What Are States Really Changing?  In a report produced by Abt Associates, many states are making or have made changes to their education standards, but most are not making broad-stroke revisions and are keeping the rigor. Nearly 70 percent of revisions were to simplify or clarify language of the learning goals. Another 25 percent added additional criteria. In only 6 six percent of the changes did states delete or lessen rigor. States are starting to see improvements in student proficiency, and, as they continue to take ownership of their learning goals under ESSA, it is imperative policymakers keep the bar high.

Illinois—New Law Helps Schools Fill in for Absent TeachersNew legislation kicked in January 6 making it easier for the general populace and, more specifically, retired teachers and teachers with out-of-state licenses, to get sub licenses. Retired teachers whose licenses lapsed used to have to pay a $500 fine and make up all professional development they missed to reinstate their license. (Sauk Valley Media, January 23)

Federal Tax Credits for K-12 Scholarships are Coming. Is Your State Ready? As part of National School Choice Week, Education Commission of the States is releasing a series of related blog posts. The latest Ed Note blog post is the first in this series and comes from guest author, Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. It discusses the potential legislative future of school choice at the federal level.

CCSSO Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Page—The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) strongly supports the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. ESSA creates a long-term stable federal policy that gives states additional flexibility and encourages states and schools to innovate, while at the same time holding us accountable for results. This page has tools and resources so every state can learn about the content of the new law and how it will directly impact their students.

New Podcast Series: Leading from the Classroom—NWEA has released a new podcast series, in partnership with CCSSO, titled “Leading from the Classroom,” in which the 2016 State Teachers of the Year share personal stories from the classroom. Each episode contains an individual testimonial of moments which solidified the teachers’ belief in the teaching profession. Through their stories, the speakers emphasize the importance of sound education policy, support for the teaching profession and focus on the needs of their students. Each podcast runs four to seven minutes long.

Ambitious Leadership: How Principals Lead Schools to College and Career ReadinessA report from New Leaders shares “success stories and strategies” from leading principals “who have led progress in moving students toward college and career readiness.” The report contains practical resources, policy guidance and case studies to help principals ensure ambitious instructional practices occur in their schools.

ESSA: Mapping opportunities for the arts—New Chapter on Stakeholder Engagement—The newest chapter to ESSA: Mapping opportunities for the arts, a special report from the Arts Education Partnership and Education Commission on the States, highlights areas where the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to engage with stakeholders, explores paths states can use for stakeholder engagement and examines opportunities for the arts in education community to participate in ESSA implementation.

Supporting Teachers—Learning to Teach: Practice-Based Preparation in Education from the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform (CEEDAR Center) and the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders outlines essential features for providing high-quality, structured, and sequenced opportunities to practice within teacher preparation programs.

Performance Feedback for Teachers and Principals at Times UnreliableClassroom observations did not reliably identify individual teachers’ strengths and weaknesses, finds an AIR study for the U.S. Department of Education examining performance feedback for teachers and principals. The authors note that tools designed to measure many aspects of a teacher’s practice or a principal’s leadership do not reliably show which aspect they need most help with.

Illinois is Short 600 School Substitutes a Day, Study Finds—Public-school administrators are scrambling to find substitute teachers for as many as 600 Illinois classrooms a day, according to a survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools.  (Chicago Sun-Times)

Opinion: States Need to Embrace Data Driven Education  Daniel Castro argues that measuring a student’s academic progress with valid, reliable data should go hand-in-hand with providing that child an education.  (Government Technology)

Betsy DeVos’ Education Hearing Turns into Debate—Betsy DeVos’ confirmation hearing to be education secretary quickly became a heated debate that reflected the nation’s political divide on how best to spend public money in education.  (New York Times)

School Improvement Grants: Implementation and Effectiveness—The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 injected $3 billion into the federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, which awarded grants to states that agreed to implement one of four school intervention models in their lowest-performing schools. Each of the models prescribed specific practices designed to improve student outcomes. Despite the sizable investment, comprehensive evidence on the implementation and impact of SIG has been limited. Using 2013 survey and administrative data from nearly 500 schools in 22 states, this report focuses on whether schools receiving a grant used the practices promoted by SIG and how that compares to other schools. The report also focuses on whether SIG had an impact on student outcomes. Findings show that SIG schools reported using more practices than other schools, but there was no evidence that SIG caused those schools to use more practices. There was also no evidence that SIG had significant impacts on math or reading test scores, high school graduation, or college enrollment.  (Institute of Education Sciences)

Being Black Is Not a Risk Factor: A Strengths-Based Look at the State of the Black Child—The National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) shares their newest publication. From the foreword by Barbara Bowman of the Erikson Institute to a closing essay by David Johns, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans, Being Black Is Not a Risk Factor: A Strengths-Based Look at the State of the Black Child is designed to challenge the prevailing discourse about Black children–one which overemphasizes limitations and deficits and does not draw upon the considerable strengths, assets and resilience demonstrated by our children, families and communities.