Resources for Wellness During COVID-19

This moment is testing all of us—our teams, families, and communities—in new ways. And we wanted to share some wellness resources in case they are helpful in the days and weeks ahead. Below are tools for crisis support and intervention, managing anxiety, mindfulness and movement, ways to share art and stories, support for children and teens, and resources in Spanish. We hope they are useful, and we will continue to look for ways to support one another during this challenging time.

Who We are and Why We Want to Tell Stories about Teacher Preparation

Teachers matter, and so does their preparation. It’s a tall order to provide quality preparation for the roughly 100,000 teachers hired each year in the US, but we have ample reason for optimism. In this new blog series, these leaders will tell their stories. They hail from seven networks of teacher preparation programs we help facilitate—Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity, Center for Transforming Alternative Preparation Pathways (CTAPP), Innovation Center for Educator Preparation (IC4EP), National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR), New York City Department of Education, TeachingWorks, and University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (US PREP)—that are working together to transform the way teachers are prepared. (Education First)

Simulation: Creative Solutions to Observing Student Teaching Competencies

The University of Central Florida (UCF) has moved their work with TeachLivE to remote servers to allow teacher candidates throughout the duration of the COVID-19 Pandemic to use simulations of classrooms to observe student teaching competencies. UCF invites teacher educators from other teacher training institutions to use the TeachLivE platform. TeachLivE now has the capability to observe student teachers interacting with elementary (option for inclusive setting), middle, and high school (option for inclusive setting) classrooms. Users may request English Language Learning avatars (Spanish).

The Coronavirus, States and Educator Preparation Programs

A series of unprecedented events are forcing states across the country to close schools and universities.  As school leaders scramble to identify pathways and strategies to protect the health of students and staff, many of them must also attend to the unique challenges of their teaching students who are in limbo because of  the coronavirus crisis. Many states have not yet provided guidance to schools of education on how to lead and advise this special class of students. As a result, many teacher candidates are waiting to learn how, or even if, they will be able to fulfill the requirements of their programs and graduate. Given the unparalleled nature of events, it is understandable if some states are not fully prepared to address this specific concern, but there are a few notable exceptions.

Interactive: See Every Education Issue Prioritized by Governors in 41 State of the State Speeches — From Free College to Mental Health, Early Ed & Beyond

Governors’ annual State of the State addresses are windows into what’s likely to be at the top of state education agendas in the coming year — and what’s not. FutureEd, a think tank at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, analyzed the 41 gubernatorial speeches delivered so far this year and found that while every state leader highlighted the importance of education, the governors talked a lot more about expanding educational opportunities than improving the performance of the nation’s schools and colleges. Phyllis Jordan and Brooke LePage have written a new analysis today about notable trends and omissions from the 41 speeches. Below, you’ll find interactive breakdowns of the governors’ six top topic areas — teacher pay, career & technical education, early childhood ed, free college, student mental health and school choice.

Reground, Prioritize, Plan, Connect: Bellwether’s Tool for Education Leaders During COVID-19

Over the last two weeks, education leaders across the country have had to make a flood of challenging and unfamiliar decisions: Should we close our school doors, and for how long? How do we quickly and radically change our operations and instruction to support kids and families, possibly indefinitely? Education leaders typically make hundreds of decisions a day under extreme pressure, but the past weeks’ events could leave even the best decision-makers feeling overwhelmed. The uncertainty of how the next several months will unfold only makes it harder for leaders. One leader we spoke to shared: “There is a knee-jerk reaction to do everything right now.” Direct-service providers and nonprofits are similarly facing knotty challenges. We empathize deeply with leaders on the ground. To cut through the noise and focus limited time, energy, and resources, we recommend the following four-step approaches…

Policy Brief: Leveraging the Federal Role in Developing High Quality Principal Preparation under Title II

Currently, the kinds of data the Department of Education collect under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are being reviewed. Under Title II of ESSA, provisions are specifically included to develop high quality principals. Yet most of these provisions and subsequent data collected are related to current principals, not aspiring. Second only to teachers in terms of improving student outcomes, a school leader’s preparation affects both teachers and students. Many aspiring and practicing school leaders, however, lack the robust preparation and ongoing development for the
job’s rigors. This brief therefore discusses two cost effective, politically feasible strategies the federal government can employ under Title II—1) competitive grants and 2) monitoring return on investment—as a means to leverage high quality principal preparation nationally.

A Weekly Meetup Aims to Keep Black Male Teachers in the Classroom

Black male teachers are often asked to mentor or motivate students, particularly male students of color, who their white colleagues may have trouble reaching. These same teachers are often called on to handle discipline issues. Research suggests that black students thrive when they have black teachers. And yet, very often students of color don’t have much exposure to teachers who look like them. Black teachers account for 27 percent of the state’s teacher workforce, according to a Mississippi Today report, but black students represent almost half of the students attending the state’s public schools. The gap in teacher representation is wide.

ISBE Recognizes Five Educators For Leadership and Excellence in Implementing KIDS

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has recognized five educators for their leadership in implementing the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS). ISBE named the five inaugural “KIDS MVPs” at the third annual Mastering KIDS Summit on Dec. 13 in Normal. Kindergarten teachers use KIDS to observe and collect evidence about each child’s math, literacy, and social-emotional skills at the beginning of kindergarten in order to better support them during the year. In addition to helping students and families support kindergarten students inside and outside of the classroom, KIDS provides data on where additional resources for high-quality early learning programs are needed.

UNC Charlotte Changes How It Trains Student Teachers

Whenever the spotlight turns to struggling schools and failing students, there’s another question that bubbles up: How well are America’s teacher preparation programs doing their job? Ellen McIntyre, who headed UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education for six years, says there’s plenty of room for improvement. The college (which is a WFAE underwriter) is working with Charlotte-area public schools to improve a crucial step in teacher prep: Student teaching. Too many student teachers, she says, still experience the sink-or-swim approach she did years ago: Being thrown into a classroom with the regular teacher watching passively and critiquing after the fact, while university supervisors pop in and out without forging real connections.

Do High-Stakes Tests Make Teachers More Likely to Quit?

For many teachers, high-stakes testing is a major source of frustration—but they’re not necessarily quitting over it. A new study found that eliminating state testing did not have an effect on overall teacher turnover and attrition. Early-career teachers, however, are less likely to leave the profession when there are fewer required tests. The working paper, which was published by the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, analyzed the effects of changes in mandated state testing in Georgia. For eight years, all students in grades 1-8 were tested in reading, English/language arts, and math, and students in grades 3-8 were also tested in science and social studies. But starting in 2011, the state began to scale back the number of required end-of-year tests. Now, students in grades 3-8 are tested in English/language arts and math, and only students in grades 5 and 8 are tested in science and social studies.

Many Substitute Teachers Are Going Without Pay During School Closures

As school districts close down for weeks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, substitute teachers are left without the opportunity to earn money. For districts, paying school employees during extended school closures has been a major dilemma. Officials have scrambled to find alternative jobs for staffers like cafeteria workers and bus drivers, many of whom work hourly rather than on salary or on contract. But some places such as Highline Public Schools near Seattle, Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, and Clark County School District in Las Vegas have stopped paying their day-to-day substitutes.

Principles for Educator Micro-credentials

Over the last six years, micro-credentials have slowly and quietly crept into elementary and secondary education as a way to verify the skills and knowledge that educators hold. But the movement to incorporate micro-credentials as a tool for educators to demonstrate competencies is gaining steam. Micro-credential provider Digital Promise’s interactive map shows that over half of states either have a policy in place allowing for the use of educator micro-credentials, or are exploring such a policy.

Video: Series Shows How Illinois Successfully Revamped Requirements for Principal Preparation

The Illinois Story is part of a major effort at Wallace to improve university principal preparation programs and builds on 15 years of Wallace-supported research and experience about what makes for effective school leaders. The University Principal Preparation Initiative seeks to explore how more university programs can improve their training so it reflects the evidence on how best to prepare effective principals. Seven universities are working with district and nonprofit partners as part of the four-year initiative to create new models for improving university principal training and learn lessons to be shared with the field. All videos were produced by award-winning filmmaker Tod Lending.

2020 State of Teaching Survey

The report includes the results of an anonymous teacher survey collected from over 5,000 teachers. Most respondents teach at the elementary grade levels. The report provides an overview of responses, curriculum and planning information, how social media is impacting the teaching profession, information on income supplements for teachers, and how long teachers plan to stay in the profession. Among the findings reported, the survey suggests teachers report feeling overwhelmed and undervalued, they have access to curriculum time, planning time, and professional development, and that teachers use social media and websites to supplement their instruction. (Institute for Arts Integration and Steam)

Plan to Improve Alabama Teachers’ Retirement Advances

A bill to improve retirement benefits for new Alabama education employees and those hired since 2013 won unanimous approval today in the House of Representatives. The legislation, called the Education Workforce Investment Act, is aimed at attracting and keeping more educators because of a shortage of teachers in Alabama. It would create a new Tier III retirement plan that would be an upgrade from the Tier II plan started seven years ago. Education employees hired since 2013, who are under Tier II, and new ones would be eligible for Tier III if the bill passes the Senate and becomes law. Employees who were hired before 2013 are under Tier I and would not be affected.

How Illinois Educators are Getting More Students to Take and Pass AP tests

Five years ago, only 16 students from United Township High School District took Advanced Placement exams. Now thanks to efforts that make the rigorous courses more accessible, 92 students from the one-high-school district are signed up to take a total of 172 exams in May.  A decade ago, Coal City 1 Community School District students had access to just one AP class: calculus. Now they can choose from 10. And Reavis Township High School District has added AP subjects based on student feedback and offers extra study time to AP students.

Professional Development for Teachers of English Learners: The Internationals Approach

In the flag-filled cafeteria of Oakland International High School, dozens of teachers eagerly gather for a get-to-know-you style icebreaker. Teachers fill a bingo grid with amusing facts about themselves and then circulate around the room, populating the grid with names of colleagues with whom they share something in common. Within minutes, someone exclaims, “bingo!” These teachers were gathered for a two-day summer institute organized by the Internationals Network for Public Schools, a network of 28 schools and academies that serve secondary school English learners (ELs) who are recent immigrants.

New Report Compares Teachers Around the World

According to the 2018 Teaching and Learning International Survey, teachers in the United States are more likely to have received formal preparation on teaching students with special needs and in multicultural and/or multilingual settings, and feel better prepared in those areas than their peers in other countries. AACTE consultant Jacqueline King summarized other key findings of the survey, released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Leveraging the Federal Role in Developing High Quality Principal Preparation under Title II

Under Title II of ESSA, provisions are specifically included to develop high quality principals. This brief therefore discusses two cost effective, politically feasible strategies the federal government can employ under Title II — 1) competitive grants and 2) monitoring return on investment—as a means to leverage high-quality principal preparation nationally.

UPPI First Year Findings

In the latest UCEA Thought Leader Interview, Elaine Wang from RAND Corporation discusses Volume 1 of the independent evaluation of The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) with John Nash, UCEA’s associate director for Communications. The interview addresses the launch efforts that took place from Fall 2016 to the end of 2017 among the seven university-based leadership preparation programs engaged in redesign through UPPI. Attention is given to the preliminary design changes considered by the programs and their partners, as well as the unique ways the redesign process was undertaken at each university.

Leadership Challenges of the Rural School Principal

As stress impacts the organization and operations of a school, leader stressors may be determined by the setting, years of experience of the leader and the greater educational landscape in which the principal must lead. The researchers sought to differentiate between the perceived stress and joy of urban and rural school principals. Findings derived from this time series design inquiry suggest that despite external influence, there is limited change in reported stress of rural school principals. Though the leadership in any setting is complex and multi-faceted, the researchers identified and assessed contributing factors.

How Have Teacher Pensions Changed since the Great Recession?

Most public school teachers participate in final average salary (FAS) defined-benefit (DB) pension plans, which guarantee retirees a lifetime payment stream based on their years of service and the salary they received near the end of their career. These plans have historically provided substantial retirement benefits to teachers who are covered for their entire career, although shorter-term participants receive much less. Pensions are paid from dedicated trust funds financed by regular contributions from school districts and teachers and investment returns from past contributions. However, financial pressures on teacher pension plans have intensified over the past decade as revenues have grown more slowly than
expected future benefit payments. This development is forcing school districts to contribute more to teacher pensions, highlighting the financial risk of guaranteeing pension benefits when investment returns are uncertain.

Principals Could Use More Support to Help Students with Disabilities — Especially in Schools Serving Mostly Students of Color

Principals play a critical role in ensuring that teachers are prepared to support the nation’s 6.7 million students with disabilities (SWD). Little is known about the supports for SWD that principals receive from their districts and other sources, but, as with teachers, principals report feeling inadequately prepared to support SWD. A recent RAND report found that only 12 percent reported that, when they began working as principals, they felt completely prepared to support the needs of SWD. The American Educator Panels asked a nationally representative sample of 1,679 principals a variety of questions — including questions about the extent to which they have sufficient support for serving SWD. This American Educator Panels Data Note provides principals’ answers to these questions and recommendations for policymakers.