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

Teach Plus is looking for excellent teachers for the Illinois Teaching Policy Fellowship.  Teachers will learn about policy issues that affect them and their students, practice advocacy skills such as writing op-eds or meeting with legislators, and work to influence state education policy to ensure that all students receive a great education.  Fellows also receive a stipend.  If you are an experienced teacher (at least three years classroom experience) who is ready to expand your influence, learn more here.

The National Center for Teacher Residencies is launching its application to support teacher residencies. Partners will share NCTR’s vision for improving academic futures of low-income, high-need children and youth by preparing new teachers through a rigorous clinical residency. Selected programs will be awarded funds of up to $500,000 and receive two years of NCTR’s New Site Development Program.

Three Ways to Tell If a New Charter School Will Struggle  A new study attempts to identify “risk factors” that predict the failure of a charter school. Based on data from four states, the research concludes that charters are more likely to be low-performing when their application does not identify a principal, states a commitment to a “child-centered instructional model,” and indicates plans to serve disadvantaged students without providing individualized tutoring.  (RealClear Education)

Annual Financial Profiles Report  A statewide analysis of school districts’ finances shows there was an overall improvement in their financial health scores last year, though it has come at a cost. More than 25 percent of districts issued either short- or long-term debt to cover operational expenses in fiscal year 2016. The total amount of new debt issued by districts was nearly $453 million, according to the Illinois State Board of Education’s Annual Financial Profiles report.  (Illinois State Board of Education)

The Real Reason Black Kids Benefit From Black Teachers  A new study found that black boys who had a black teacher during their elementary school years were less likely to drop out of high school. It also linked the presence of black teachers to kids’ expectations of attending college. One educator shares his experiences and hypothesizes the mechanisms behind the findings. (New York Times)

Spotlight on School District Leaders  Education Week annually recognizes 10 school district leaders as Leaders to Learn From. The honorees used smart ideas and executed them with promising results for teachers, students and their communities. Honorees range from the Shelby, Tennessee, school superintendent who turned around 20 low-performing schools in her district to an Iowa superintendent who works to recruit, retain and improve the practice of educators in his small town (Education Week).

Providing Effective Feedback is a Tricky Process  Pro tips on providing feedback: do it during the learning, delay it after the learning, and make sure it’s tailored to each student’s needs. According to a new study, providing effective feedback is more complicated than it seems. Teachers often “try to close all the education gaps with one round of feedback,” says Susan Brookhart at the Learning and the Brain conference. But that doesn’t work for students because it’s too much information to process at once (MindShift).

New America published a new brief “Painting the ESSA Canvas Four Ideas for States to Think Big on Educator Quality” that dives into how states can support educators and professional development systems.

Indiana—Will State Require Voucher Schools to Report Finances?  Lawmakers are taking steps to increase financial transparency of private schools that accept public dollars for school choice. (IndyStar, April 17)

Minority Teachers in U.S. More Than Doubled Over 25 Years—but Still Fewer Than 20 Percent of Educators, Study Shows  The number of minority teachers more than doubled in the United States over a 25-year period but still represent less than 20 percent of the country’s elementary and secondary school teaching force, a new statistical analysis of data shows. (Washington Post, April 14)

New State Support Network Website  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of State Support recently announced the new State Support Network website, an online platform designed to support school improvement efforts by providing states and districts with opportunities to engage with their peers and connect with experts and resources.

Texas—Education Agency Launches Portal Showcasing Outstanding Educators  The state’s commissioner of education on Wednesday announced the Texas Education Agency has established a website showcasing educator profiles. (Downtown Austin Patch, April 12)

Florida Principals Hope to Use New Autonomy to Face Challenges  Districts in Florida can now grant up to three low-performing schools waivers from certain requirements in exchange for innovative leadership through the Principal Autonomy Program. Principal Lisa Lee at Orchard View Elementary in Delray Beach, Florida, says “They are trusting me to think out of the box,” and wants to revive music lessons and implement project-based learning at her school. Principal Philip Bullock of Walker Elementary in Fort Lauderdale chose to enhance performing arts and debate and encourages students to select a major and minor field of interest (SunSentinel).

Diversity in the Teacher Workforce Combats Dropouts  Having a single black teacher in the early years of school increases the likelihood that low-income black students will graduate and consider college, according to a recent study by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics. For black boys, that number is stunning: the decrease in dropout risk is 40%. Johns Hopkins assistant professor and co-author of the study Nicholas Papageorge calls the study’s results “eye-popping” (US News & World Report).

Assessment, Data: Is It More Than Numbers?  Lisa Westman, an instructional coach from the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, believes that there is a general misconception of what “differentiation” instruction entails. In Westman’s opinion, differentiation requires using assessments as well as data to construct a more comprehensive view of students’ needs. However, her interactions with education stakeholders have led her to believe that data and assessment may be four letter words at times and uses her most recent piece to break down their uses (Education Week).

#EducatorsTeamUp. Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellows looked at ways to enhance the teacher pipeline and shared their inspiration in Teaming Up: Educators Enhance Teacher PrepSee what can happen when teachers team up to improve the system for future educators and their students.