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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.

Illinois Says Goodbye To The Basic Skills Test, Long A Barrier For Teacher Candidates Of Color  Amid an ongoing teacher shortage, Illinois will scrap a basic skills test that it has long required aspiring teachers to pass but that critics have argued poses a barrier to candidates of color. Instead, the state will assume that teacher hopefuls will have learned basic skills in their teacher prep programs. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation Wednesday abolishing the test, part of an omnibus education bill sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Decatur. The new law will free up 246 pending license applications from candidates who had failed to pass the basic skills test, according to the Illinois State Board of Education’s press release. Backers see the law as a way to help alleviate the teacher shortage.  Last school year, Illinois started the year with 1,400 unfilled teacher classroom positions. (Chalkbeat)

Ky. Dept. of Education’s New Website Recruits New Teachers  The Kentucky Department of Education has launched a new campaign and website to recruit and encourage potential teachers. The Education Department says there was a 36% decline in the completion of education preparation programs in Kentucky from 2008 to 2017. Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis unveiled the new website, www.goteachky.com, at a Board of Education meeting last week. The website shows the pathways to becoming a teacher, with a focus on undecided college students and professionals with college degrees and trade workers. As a part of the campaign, the department also is accepting applications for the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching renewable loan forgiveness program. The program offers financial support, training, and mentorships. (Associated Press)

Commitment to Pipelines Remains Strong After Funding Ends  Principal pipelines demonstrate staying power with a continued commitment by districts long after Wallace funding ended. Building principal pipelines proved to be feasible, affordable and effective for the six school districts participating in our Principal Pipeline Initiative. But does the strategy have staying power? This week’s episode of The Principal Pipeline podcast dives into a 2019 Policy Studies Associates report that found two years after funding for the initiative ended, district commitment to pipelines remained strong. “This is sustained because this is actually about the people and we’ve invested in people,” said Tricia McManus, assistant superintendent of leadership, professional development and school transformation for Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida.

Principal and Teacher Preparation to Support the Needs of Diverse Students  Principals and teachers have an undeniable influence on the educational outcomes of their students, so it is important to consider the extent to which they are receiving adequate preparation in their preservice training programs. However, the evidence base on the quality of these programs suggests there is substantial room for improvement, particularly in the area of preparing educators for supporting a diversifying student body. This report presents findings from surveys of nationally representative samples of school leaders and teachers who responded to questions about the preservice training they received prior to beginning their work as educators. These findings would be useful to for policymakers and administrators of principal and teacher preparation programs. While principals and teachers generally felt well-prepared for working in schools, there were a handful of areas where preparation appeared to be lacking, particularly regarding preparation to support black, Latino, and low-income students.

The Wallace Foundation Commissions Reports to Synthesize State of Knowledge on Key Aspects of School Leadership  The Wallace Foundation today announced that it has commissioned reports from prominent researchers who will provide the field with up-to-date information about the state of knowledge in three critical areas of education leadership. Two of the research syntheses will provide a fresh analysis of topics explored in previous reports, which are among the foundation’s most significant and popular publications. One report will focus on the influence of leadership on student learning, providing an update to the landmark How Leadership Influences Student Learning, published in 2004. Another will look at the characteristics and outcomes of effective principal preparation programs, building on what was learned since Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World: Lessons from Exemplary Leadership Development Programs was published in 2007.

For State Leaders Who Want Personalized Learning in Schools, New Report Shares 5 Ways to Support Teachers Through Policy  If state leaders want more student-driven learning in classrooms, creating policies that support teachers is critical. That’s according to a new report from iNACOL, a nonprofit that supports competency-based education. The report outlines five recommendations for state policy leaders on how to help develop teachers, so they’re prepared for competency-based instruction. “We can talk about transforming the education system … but if we’re not addressing the capacity and buy-in of the people who themselves will be on the front lines of this work, then we will not succeed,” said Maria Worthen, vice president for federal and state policy at iNACOL. The concept of allowing students to work at their own pace and progress once they’ve mastered a concept has gained popularity across the country from districts, states, and philanthropists. Rhode Island, for example, created a statewide push for personalized learning, setting up innovation schools where educators can experiment with ideas like project-based learning. (The 74)

Teacher Turnover Hits High-Poverty Schools Particularly Hard. Here’s How Chicago Plans To Keep More Educators.  Just last week, Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School Principal Charles Anderson completed a task that can vex even the steeliest of urban school administrators: He filled his final staff vacancy for fall. That’s an accomplishment in a district that, also last week reported more than 1,000 teaching vacancies across its more than 600 schools. On Tuesday, at a press conference where Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot laid out her planned investments for schools across the next few years, Anderson spoke in support of expanding a program that helps recruit and retain teachers at schools hit hardest by turnover. “It has helped me assemble a dynamic team of high-quality educators who are ready to invest in the success of our students,” said Anderson, whose school enrolled 570 students last year and employed more than 30 teachers. “This is one of the first times I can say this: By July 25, I was fully staffed.” 

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