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

Independent Reviewers: NM Education Plan Best in The Nation  New Mexico has the best plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) among the 17 states that have submitted documents to the federal government so far, according to a new independent review. (Albuquerque Journal)

States Take on Competency Based Education  At least five state legislatures have considered bills pertaining to strengthening competency-based education measures in their state, according to a new policy snapshot from Education Commission of the States. (Education Dive)

The 2nd Annual New Education Majority Poll  The Leadership Conference Education Fund released the results from its “New Education Majority” national poll, which was commissioned to explore how Black and Latino parents and families view the American education system’s success in educating their children. The goal of the poll is to start a conversation about education policy changes that are truly reflective of what Black and Latino parents and families want. The poll discovered that among African Americans, the importance of a strong curriculum and a safe environment both gained ground this year, while high standards saw the biggest increase with Latinos.

Equity Dashboards Alliance for Excellent Education has created Equity Dashboards for each state.

Public Education Finances: 2015  This report contains financial statistics relating to public elementary-secondary (prekindergarten through grade 12) education. It includes national and state financial aggregates and displays data for the 100 largest school systems by enrollment in the United States. The report includes the entire range of government finance activities (revenue, expenditure, debt, and assets).  (U.S. Census Bureau)

The Critical Importance of Costs for Education Decisions  This brief provides guidance to decision makers in schools, districts, state education departments, and intermediary organizations about ways that cost analyses can help inform their decisions about program choices, budgets, and strategies. It addresses questions about: 1) why cost information matters in education; 2) what cost metrics are available to inform decision making; 3) how cost analyses can inform decision making; 4) what resources exist to help calculate the costs of education programs; and 5) what types and uses of cost analysis are available for decision making. Finally, the brief discusses the purposes, advantages, disadvantages, and possible applications for four types of cost analyses. (Institute of Education Sciences)

US Department of Education Staffing –President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced new hires at the Department, including assistant secretary for congressional affairs, which requires Senate approval, according to Education Week.

Opinion: An Answer to the Shortage of Black and Brown Teachers  Dr. Andre Perry, the former founding dean of urban education at Davenport University, discusses the national teacher shortage crisis and its relationship to the shortage of minority educators. Dr. Perry goes on to stress the importance of a diverse teacher pool and strategies for achieving it.  (Hechinger Report)

School Improvement Starts Before School  Elliot Regenstein, Maia Connors and Ria Romero-Jurado, from the Ounce of Prevention Fund, write on how advocates can promote school and systems improvement as part of ESSA in a piece for New America.

Chicago’s Pay For Success These Times reports on Chicago’s Pay For Success investment and questions its potential to save the city money.

Using ESSA to Tackle Chronic Absence from Pre-K to K-12  New America and CEELO highlight a number of ESSA related issues, including how to use ESSA to address chronic absences and how to use ESSA to improve teacher-child interactions.

Voices for Illinois Children analyzed the proposed Healthy Workplace Act (HB 2771) that would allow employees to accrue and take up to five days of paid sick leave a year.

Title I Funding  EdBuild finds that states are not utilizing Title I funds to provide more robust services to low-income students in its new report  Zahava Stadler with EdBuild writes an overview of the findings in 74 Million.

Illinois’ Bill Backlog Has State More Than $1 Billion Behind in Payments to Schools  The record-setting budget stalemate means the state is more than $1 billion behind in paying school districts the money it promised for the school year that ends this month. Two years of budget-free spending has created a $15 billion pile of unpaid bills, with the money owed to schools caught up in the mix. Now district superintendents say the state’s financial troubles are spilling over into their books — and could have consequences in the classroom. (Chicago Tribune)

School Funding Reform Bill an Equitable Solution  Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, discusses how the components of SB1 create a more equitable system of distribution. Martire highlights key aspects of the bill such as adequacy targets, the hold harmless provision, and treatment of block grants. (State Journal-Register)

Barickman’s School Funding Compromise Focuses On CPS  Earlier this week, a group of Illinois lawmakers announced a series of compromise measures they said could lead to a state budget. It includes a revised school funding plan, sponsored by State Senator Jason Barickman, of Bloomington. It omits controversial language about collective bargaining, and on some areas, it duplicates the Democrats’ plan, known as Senate Bill 1. (NPR Illinois)

Rural Schools Expand Course Choice  When rural schools overcome infrastructure weaknesses, they can become powerhouses of online course choice. In Fordland, Mo., schools, once the broadband challenges had been solved, superintendent Chris Ford said he “asked school administrators not to act like we’re a small school district. Our vision has opened up the world for our students.” This means they’re able to take courses never before available, increasing their graduates’ skills and sophistication to compete with alumni from suburban and urban schools. (EdWeek)

The End of the Valedictorian? Schools Rethink Class Rankings  At many American high schools, the graduation-day tradition of crowning a valedictorian is becoming a thing of the past. (Associated Press)

Isolated and Segregated: A New Look at the Income Divide in Our Nation’s Schooling System The 2017 Kids Count Data Book is an annual analysis that measures the well-being of American children across four domains: economic, education, health, and family and community. This year’s report ranked Illinois 19th, but showed that family well being and education is on a national decline. (Annie E. Casey Foundation)

Letter: Funding Reform Is a Victory for Students  Michael Jacoby, Executive Director, Illinois Association of School Business Officials, shares why the Daily Herald is mistaken in its view that the new school funding formula disproportionately benefits Chicago Public Schools. He breaks down the benefits of SB1 and discusses why the future of Illinois depends on the passage of the bill. (Daily Herald)

Rural School and Community Trust released its biennial, 50-state report on rural education in the U.S. on June 14th.  The report is posted on the home page.

Totally Rural Webinar #1: Education, Health & Business in 2017: What the Feds, States & Trend-Setters Are Planning for Rural America. It’s presented by the Totally Rural Podcast, the leading podcast on rural issues in the United States, in cooperation with the National Rural Education Association, Center for Rural Affairs, American Farm Bureau Federation, and American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The webinar takes place July 26, 2017, 12:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern, and you don’t have to leave your office or home to attend. You’ll find out about the latest developments in federal and state policy, success stories and trend-setters in rural health, education, and business and learn about what’s expected to happen in the next six months on rural issues that affect what you do every day.  Reserve your spot TODAY.

Tackling the STEM Teacher Shortage  Facing a dire teacher shortage in the fields of math and science, California is pulling out all the stops to entice science and math majors to pursue a teaching credential. The California Department of Education, along with state schools and non-profits are launching programs to connect undergraduate students with teacher preparation programs. Research by Learning Policy institutes identifies decreasing the cost and complexity of the training process, as well as increasing STEM teacher salary as important future measures to further encourage young scientists to pursue a teaching credential. (

Confronting ELL Teacher Shortage in Rural Areas  The student population of Iowa is becoming more diverse, according to Rep. Walt Rogers, (R-Cedar Rapids) and as schools experience more English Language Learners (ELLs) they are not seeing a corresponding increase in ELL teachers. In fact in some rural areas the ratio is one ELL teacher to over 100 ELL students! These rural districts are providing advanced training toward ELL endorsements for as many teachers as they can. (EdWeek)

We Must Do Better  When good teachers leave, everyone suffers: the students, the faculty, and the community. Efforts are sometimes made to retain these teachers, but in too many cases, they pack up their classrooms and head out after lackluster attempts to address their needs. In this blog post Blythewood, S.C., teacher Patrick Kelly insists that the “the best we can do” isn’t good enough; instead, he says, we must do better. (EdPost)

What Is Racial Inequity and Why Is It Important?  This infographic is the first in a series that begins to address how we can achieve racial equity.

Leader Tracking Systems:Turning Data Into Information for School Leadership  A look at data systems to improve school leadership offers “hard-won insights” gathered from six school districts that are building these systems to assist in everything from principal hiring to principal training.