Skip to main content

Teaching and leadership resources

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

Preparing Students for Higher Standards What will it take for our schools to support all learners to meet higher standards that prepare them for success in our rapidly changing world? According to a new report by New Leaders—Ambitious Leadership: How Principals Lead Schools to College and Career Readinesswell-prepared, well-supported principals are key. The report shares findings from a study of principals at 10 schools that have made notable progress in helping students meet new college- and career-ready standards. Based on these findings, the report provides recommendations for principals and principal supervisors and is accompanied by six case studies of ambitious leadership in action, an appendix of useful resources, and a policy brief for state and federal officials.

Listen Up: Battling Feelings of Isolation  Education is exhausting and even the strongest can use a pick me up. In this TED Talk playlist hear individuals provide a reminder that when loneliness starts to sink in, there are people that want to pick you up with laughter, the absurd, and maybe even a love letter or two. Find time to give these stories a listen (

Seeking Input The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) released the first full draft of the ISTE Standards for Teachers for public comment. Share your perspective by completing the 15-minute individual survey and sharing it with your networks or host a feedback forum using an ISTE-provided toolkit. Public comment period closes at the end of February 2017.

Realizing Social Justice is the Heart of Education  The teaching profession requires more than lesson planning and skill-building, great teachers must build relationships, know the school community, and have a mindset for reflection. Steven LaFemina reflects on how he realized much later than he should have, that as a teacher he needed to know his students and their community. He offers a few suggestions for helping teachers come to this understanding sooner and admits that he doesn’t have all the answers, but hopes to work with organizations and peers to support fellow educators (

Join Us at the Department of Education as a School Ambassador Fellow  The Department’s 2017-2018 School Ambassador Fellowship application is live. Teachers, school counselors, assistant principals, and other school personnel that work with students may apply at this link, but the application will close on January 23, 2017, at 11:59 p.m., so we highly encourage applicants to review the School Ambassador Fellowship website for more information. So far, ED has only targeted teachers and principals, and including other education professionals working with students and educators will bring new perspectives to discussions of federal policy and programs. Stay tuned for more about the program in next week’s Teachers Edition!

The Right Match: A Strong Principal in Every Public School  This report has one central premise: Keeping great principals starts with hiring the right principal. Even as Chicago fights to retain principals long enough to make student learning and school culture gains more permanent, we must recognize some principal attrition is inevitable. More than 70,000 students started the 2016-17 school year with a new principal, and at least 60 schools will need a new principal each year for the foreseeable future.

Call for Participation – Study on Yearlong Preservice Preparation Models – The Sustainable Funding Project at Bank Street College of Education seeks educator preparation leaders to participate in a study of clinically rich preparation programs. Brigid Fallon invites you to provide input on high-level programmatic features, needed resources, and funding strategies for yearlong clinical experiences.

Experts Weigh in on How to Fix the Teacher Shortage  Teacher shortages aren’t only in a few states. The problem is impacting the classroom and education in America as a whole. Teachers of Tomorrow asked 13 experts passionate about education the following question: What is the single most important thing America can do to fix the teacher shortage? Find out what they had to say and what can be done to help society’s most important occupation.

The LEAD Tool™ helps school leadership teams start dialogue and sustain action in expanding educational opportunities, improving school climate, and attaining equitable outcomes. It provides teams the opportunity to examine practices and policies through the lens of 10 research-based equitable practices and to bring families, communities, and other stakeholders into the conversation.

Get the Stats  The “Digest of Education Statistics, 2015,” the 51st in a series of publications initiated in 1962, provides a compilation of statistical information covering the broad field of American education—from pre-kindergarten through graduate school—drawn from government and private sources, but especially from surveys and other activities led by the National Center for Education Statistics.

ESSA Webinar  The Department’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students invites educators to a series of webinars about the non-regulatory guidance on the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment (ESSA Title IV, Part A) grants.  These grants seek to increase the capacity of states, districts, schools, and communities to provide all students with access to a well-rounded education; improve school conditions to boost student learning; and improve the effective use of technology. The first webinar is January 12, 2017, at 2 p.m. ET.

Illinois School Districts See Surge in Low-Income Families  The number of Illinois school districts with a majority of students coming from low-income families has jumped from 13 percent to 43 percent over the past decade, a new report shows. The finding was released by the nonprofit Advance Illinois in its biennial report “Every Student Counts: The State We’re In 2016-2017.” Ginger Ostro, executive director of Advance Illinois, said the rise in low-income students is not concentrated in urban areas but is statewide.

It’s Time to Stop with the False Choices on School Choice  Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, shares his perspective on the school choice debate and offers key steps for effective school reform. He outlines four areas of emphasis: principal preparation, early childhood education, IB and STEM programs in high schools, and supporting failing schools.  (Washington Post—December 16)

New Research Looks at Teacher Candidate Performance Assessments for Teacher Prep Programs  Locally-scored teacher candidate performance assessments offer teacher preparation programs (TPPs) formative performance data, common language and expectations, and information to guide program improvements. To best use these data, TPPs need to understand the validity and reliability of local scoring and assess whether scores predict candidates’ performance as teachers. Examining locally-scored performance assessments, we find that local scores are significantly higher than official scores. However, local scores identify three factors partially-aligned with the assessment’s construct blueprint and significantly predict teachers’ performance outcomes. These analyses provide a framework for research and highlight the utility of locally-scored performance assessments for evidence-based TPP improvement.

Is Illinois’ Education System On Track?  A recent report by education advocacy group Advance Illinois finds that low-income students in Illinois remain well behind their wealthier peers in K-12 schooling. Ginger Ostro, executive director of Advance Illinois, and Harry Berman, former executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Advance Illinois Board Member, share perspectives on the implications of these findings.  (The 21st Show— December 13)

2016 Annual Review  Innovations That Transform Systems—the theme of the 2016 Illinois Center for School Improvement (Illinois CSI) Annual Review—evokes the evolution and transformation of the districts served as well as Illinois CSI. This report highlights the progression of districts through the lens of the CSI continuous improvement cycle, emphasizes how districts have embraced this process and customized it to fit their needs, and discusses the promising results it has produced to date.

School Leadership Interventions Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: Evidence Review   The reauthorization of the U.S. Elementary and Secondary Education Act, referred to as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), emphasizes evidence-based initiatives while providing new flexibilities to states and districts with regard to the use of federal funds, including funds to promote effective school leadership. This report describes the opportunities for supporting school leadership under ESSA, discusses the standards of evidence under ESSA, and synthesizes the research base with respect to those standards. The authors found that ESSA expands opportunities for states and districts to use federal funding for initiatives that strive to improve the quality of school leaders. In addition, ESSA’s framework with tiers of evidence, coupled with the U.S. Department of Education’s nonregulatory guidance, strongly emphasizes the use of evidence in setting direction for improving school leadership and prioritizes more-rigorous evidence. Furthermore, unlike prior legislation and policy, ESSA provides avenues to consider and build the evidence base for new and under-researched interventions. ESSA also provides some flexibility for states to interpret and apply evidence requirements. (RAND Corporation)

Ambitious Leadership: How Principal Lead Schools to College and Career Readiness  The report produced by New Leaders describes patterns observed at schools that have made notable progress in helping students meet new college- and career-ready standards, regarding both what principals knew and did to lead toward college and career readiness, and the conditions that had to be in place for their instructional improvement efforts to succeed. Based on these findings, the report provides recommendations for principals and principal supervisors, and is accompanied by six case studies, an appendix of useful resources, and a policy brief.

Supportive but Not Supported: School District Leaders’ Opinions on Implementing the Common Core State Standards  Most district leaders believe that the implementation of Common Core State Standards has helped to improve student learning, a study by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) finds. A “whopping 90 percent” express support for the new standards. Respondents indicate the learning goals are more cognitively demanding and only five percent say they are not demanding enough. School district leaders favor the new standards, but they need more support from their states to help improve instruction and student achievement.

Education Department Releases Proposed Regulations to Encourage Better and Fairer Tests, Reduce Burden of Testing  The U.S. Department of Education released regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act which are meant to help state and local leaders implement more effective assessments. While student assessments are only one measure of academic growth, they are a very important one. “States and districts must work together to seize this opportunity to design coherent, aligned assessment systems that are based on rigorous standards,” the Center for American Progress noted.

Evidenced-Based Leadership Interventions  Recognizing that effective leadership is essential to most school improvement efforts, the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) enables states and districts to use certain major funding sources to help achieve their school improvement goals by supporting principals and other school leaders.  Wallace commissioned RAND to examine the evidence behind various leadership-focused activities and describe the law’s evidence framework. The report released today, School Leadership Interventions Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: Evidence Review, is the result—an expanded and updated version of a publication originally issued last April.  An accompanying RAND commentary, How States and Districts Can Leverage the Every Student Succeeds Act to Improve School Leadership, offers a snapshot of the report.

Strategies for Estimating Teacher Supply and Demand Using Student and Teacher Data  The Minnesota Department of Education redesigned the state’s teacher supply and demand study in order to increase its utility for stakeholders. This report summarizes the four-step process that was followed in redesigning the study, focusing on the state data sources and analytic methods that can address stakeholders’ research questions. Because many data elements used in the study are common across states, the process described may help stakeholders in other states improve their studies of teacher supply and demand.  (Midwest Regional Educational Laboratory at American Institutes for Research)

New Help for States That Want to Bolster Principals  As state education officials set agendas for K-12 under the Every Student Succeeds Act, a new guide and a research review are being released this week to help them figure out how best to elevate school leadership through the law. (Education Week, December 13)

PISA Scores Highlight Need for K-12, Higher Ed Partnerships  Recent data collected by the Program for International Assessment (PISA) found the United States trailing international averages for student aptitude in mathematics, and placing just ahead in areas of science and reading. In total, students in the U.S. were outperformed by at least 14 countries in each area, and by 36 nations in math. (Education Dive, December 12)

Rich-Poor Achievement Gap Is Narrowing in American Education  The link between socio-economic status and school performance is weakening for U.S. students, a sign of improving equity in American education even as U.S. teens continue to lag behind their international counterparts in math, reading and science, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (Bloomberg, December 6)