National survey of public education’s response to COVID-19

Across the nation, educators are responding valiantly to an unprecedented health crisis and its ramifications for students, educators, and communities. Leaders and staff are charting new courses for this unique time. All of us students, parents, educators, policy makers, and researchers share an interest in learning from this event. To improve services to students and families as we move forward, we need information on what districts and charter management organizations are doing and plan to do to address COVID-19. The main goals of this project are to document this moment in education and to provide actionable information to educators, policymakers, and researchers to inform future education practices beyond the initial public health crisis.

Special education faculty focus on urban education and culturally responsive teaching

The Innovative Network of Urban Special Educators (INFUSE) program is a faculty developed sequence in the Department of Special Education (SED) that includes urban education and special education focused classes for pre-service teachers. Courses in the sequence incorporate culturally responsive pedagogy, anti-racist teaching, social justice awareness, and traditionally, a trip to Chicago for activities in the schools and with community partner organizations. As part of a grant through the National Center for Urban Education (NCUE), faculty typically went through an intensive training intended to help guide them as they redesigned their courses with an urban focus.

New playbook for building a strong and diverse teaching profession

The past year has been a roller coaster for teachers and schools. Districts have been challenged to recruit and retain teachers more than ever. But with significant new dollars going to states and districts through the the American Rescue Plan Act and the American Families Plan, there are new opportunities to invest in teachers in the years ahead.

The Teaching Profession Playbook from the Partnership for the Future of Learning offers a comprehensive set of strategies that work together to recruit, prepare, develop, and retain high-quality teachers and bring greater racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity to the profession. Read it cover to cover or, depending on your local or state circumstance, explore a single chapter or strategy. Additional resources include examples of legislation; a curated list of publications, by topic, for further reading; a guide for messaging about teacher shortages and strengthening the profession; and examples of research-based policies.

The role of assistant principals: Evidence and insights for advancing school leadership

Recent years have seen a surge in the number of assistant principals and the percentage of schools with them, but despite its growing presence, the AP role is often overlooked. With the proper training and development, APs could make more powerful contributions to important efforts including advancing educational equity, improving schools and fostering principal effectiveness. That is the central conclusion of this report, which is based on a synthesis of 20 years of research on assistant principals in U.S. public schools (79 studies published since 2000) as well as analyses of data from national and state sources.   

How the pandemic prompted teachers to give students more flexibility, choice (in charts)

For those who have long sought to give students more “voice and choice” inside the country’s K-12 classrooms, the devastating coronavirus pandemic appears to have had a silver lining. More than half of teachers now offer students more flexibility in how they choose to complete assignments, more opportunities to revise and re-submit their work, and more ways to participate non-verbally in class discussions, according to a nationally representative survey of teachers administered by the EdWeek Research Center.

Model programs of study

Public comments are open through June 5, 2021 for the four new Model Programs of Study Guides in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources; Architecture, Construction, and Energy; Arts and Communications; and Finance and Business Services. To download drafts of the guides, visit

REL Report: Michigan teachers who are not teaching – who are they, and what would motivate them to teach?

Statewide teacher shortages in Michigan are impeding efforts to ensure all students equitable access to qualified teachers. To alleviate shortages, education leaders have considered recruiting certified teachers who are not currently teaching (both those who have never taught and those who left teaching). This study analyzed teacher certification and employment data and data from a survey of certified teachers who were not teaching in a Michigan public school in 2017/18 to gather information on the viability of this recruitment option. The report describes the characteristics of these nonteaching certified teachers, the three most important reasons why they are not teaching, and the three most important incentives that would motivate them to teach in a public school in the state. The study found that approximately 61,000 teachers certified in Michigan were not teaching in the state’s public schools in 2017/18.

Number of assistant principals is increasing and the role is key to advancing equity, major new research review finds

The number of assistant principals is increasing and the role is key to advancing educational equity, according to a new report by researchers from Mathematica and Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. “The Role of Assistant Principals: Evidence and Insights for Advancing School Leadership,” which was commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, clarifies the various functions of assistant principals across the country and suggests ways to better prepare and support them.

Mentors matter for new teachers: Advice on what works and what doesn’t

While estimates on attrition vary, an analysis of federal data shows that more than 40 percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years. It’s an enormous loss to schools, and ultimately, to students. Mentors can make a difference. One federal study examined the benefits of mentorship programs and found that 92 percent of first-year teachers who had mentors returned to the classroom for a second year. But, as Kemmer’s experience demonstrates, not all mentorships are created equal. Nor is there a single system of support that will ensure a new teacher’s ultimate success.

New release! IL Early Childhood Workforce Report

The Gateways to Opportunity Registry was established in 2009 to be a workforce data repository for Illinois’ early childhood education professionals. The IL Early Childhood Workforce Report draws on that system to provide rich, descriptive data about the workforce, sharing aggregated information about their demographics, education and credentials, compensation, and longevity in the field. This snapshot of the workforce is designed to provide insight about these hardworking professionals so policymakers, advocates, and higher education leaders can improve career pathways, increase retention, and significantly raise compensation.

The full report and 2-page snapshot are available online for download at

How to talk about next school year presents a big test for education leaders

From the federal government on down, officials have struggled time and again during COVID-19’s disruption with trying to help the public understand the circumstances determining when schools open and how changing conditions impact school operations. Now they face difficult choices in terms of discussing the next school year. Should they confidently plan for all school buildings to be open, and make this expectation clear to the public? How should they discuss what students need from schools and others?

REL Report: Outcomes of a pilot residency program for early career teachers

Louisiana’s Believe and Prepare pilot program aimed to provide teacher candidates or in-service teachers with a competency-based curriculum and a residency with a mentor. A new REL Southwest study examined the certification, employment, and retention outcomes for the three cohorts of teacher candidates who participated in the pilot program between 2014/15 and 2016/17.
Key findings include:

  • About 30 percent of early career Believe and Prepare pilot participants who attained a Level 1 professional certificate between 2015/16 and 2017/18 were certified in a high-need subject (middle grades math or science, secondary math or science, and special education), and 28 percent of participants who entered teaching in a Louisiana public school between 2015/16 and 2018/19 taught in a high-need subject in their first year.
  • Of early career Believe and Prepare teachers who entered teaching between 2015/16 and 2017/18, 89 percent were retained in a public school in the state for a second year, 76 percent were retained in the same district, and 71 percent were retained in the same school. The within-state retention rate was lowest for early career Believe and Prepare teachers in high-need subjects.

REL report: Impact of career and technical education on postsecondary outcomes

A new report from REL Central describes the impact of being a career and technical education (CTE) concentrator in high school on rates of on-time graduation and postsecondary education enrollment and completion within two and five years of expected high school graduation. CTE concentrators are students who complete a sequence of CTE courses aligned to specific career fields such as manufacturing or education and training. Outcomes were examined for students in Nebraska and South Dakota whose expected high school graduation year was between 2012/13 and 2016/17. Outcomes were also examined for CTE concentrators by career field.

Findings include the following:
• CTE concentrators were more likely than non-CTE concentrators to graduate from high school on time and to enroll in postsecondary education.
• CTE concentrators were more likely than non-CTE concentrators to earn any kind of postsecondary award within two years of and within five years of their expected high school graduation year.
• CTE concentrators were 4 percentage points more likely than non-CTE concentrators to attain up to an associate’s degree as their highest postsecondary award within five years of their expected high school graduation year but 1 percentage point less likely to attain a bachelor’s degree or higher.
• Postsecondary enrollment and completion rates varied across career fields.