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

Universal Scales & ESSA Accountability  Former state school chief, Terry Holliday and Patricia Wright examine how universal, common scales for reading and mathematics can be used to measure growth and college and career readiness in new accountability systems aligned with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Holliday and Wright discuss MetaMetrics’ research that identified the quantitative reading and/or mathematical demand needed for over 250 in-demand careers and how students, parents, and educators can access those demands via the new Lexile and Quantile Growth Planners.

Evidence for ESSA  The Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE) at Johns Hopkins University released its new website called Evidence for ESSA, a free web-based resource that provides easy access to information on programs that meet the evidence standards defined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The website is designed for education leaders at the state, district and school levels, to provide information to state chiefs, superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and anyone else interested in which programs meet the ESSA evidence standards.

Checking for Alignment in Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plans and State Systemic Improvement Plans (SSIP)  CCSSO and the National Center for Systemic Improvement created this tool to support state education agencies (SEAs) and their stakeholders as they work to develop state plans pursuant to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This tool will help ensure these plans lead to better outcomes for all students, including students with disabilities. The considerations serve as prompts to deepen thinking about the ways a state’s ESSA Plan can help improve achievement and outcomes for students with disabilities by leveraging the work states already have accomplished through a SSIP.

Principals Matter—and Tennessee Wants to Do a Better Job of Equipping Them  The job of a principal has changed a lot over the last decade. Instead of just hiring teachers, managing the building, and stepping in for the toughest discipline issues, today’s principals also serve as catalysts for the quality of classroom instruction. (Chalkbeat, April 2)

IllinoisState Education Board Develops New Accountability Plan for Schools  The Illinois State Board of Education earlier this week submitted its plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to the U.S. Department of Education outlining a new vision of evaluating and supporting public schools. It will be implemented starting with the 2017-18 school year. (Daily Herald, April 5)

ESSA: Mapping opportunities for civic education, provides an overview of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and outlines how ESSA strengthens opportunities for states to expand and support civic learning and engagement.

ISBE Names Schools for Competency Based Education Pilot Illinois State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D., Monday announced the 10 school districts selected to participate in the first cohort of Illinois’ Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Pilot Program. Smith celebrated the pioneering districts at an event at Manual Academy in Peoria Public Schools District 150.

Using Evaluation Systems for Teacher Improvement  The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed into law at the end of 2015, but schools and districts have until the 2017-18 school year to begin implementing their plans to comply with it. This brief discusses how existing evaluation and support systems could be better used to realize the new law’s vision of teacher improvement. The data suggest that if districts wish to move toward the type of continuous growth opportunities for teachers that ESSA envisions, they could do so by investing in additional training for school leaders; such training would be intended to help them use existing teacher evaluation systems to identify teachers’ needs and connect them with professional development opportunities.  (MDRC)

Exploring District-Level Expenditure-to-Performance Ratios  School districts across the nation are seeking ways to increase efficiency by maintaining, if not improving, educational outcomes using fewer resources. One proxy for school district efficiency is an expenditure-to-performance ratio, for example a ratio of per pupil expenditures to student academic performance. Using state education department data from a northeastern state, the authors created six different expenditure-to-performance ratios and investigated how districts’ inclusion in the highest quartile on districts rankings varied according to the expenditure and performance measures used to calculate each ratio. By demonstrating the variability in district rankings depending on the ratio being examined, this guide provides states and districts with evidence to suggest that state policymakers should carefully consider the examination of expenditure and performance measures that are most relevant to their questions of interest when investigating district efficiency.  (Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Education Development Center, Inc.)