Resources for Culturally Responsive Teaching

Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) connects instruction with students’ life experiences, cultures, and languages to support their learning. CRT can help narrow racial and income-level disparities in academic achievement resulting from social, cultural, and institutional barriers. Research has found that students learn better when teaching is filtered through their own experiences. Culturally responsive practices have also been found to improve students’ perception of school climate.

Jeffco’s School Board approves a new union for preschool staff

The Jeffco school board voted unanimously Thursday night to recognize a new union chapter for non-licensed preschool staff. Without discussion, the board unanimously passed a staff-prepared resolution to recognize the union as group leaders clapped and cheered. A couple of board members noted they were excited about the vote. The new union members will join JESPA, the district’s union for school support staff that includes bus drivers and school custodians. The new non-licensed preschool group includes almost 140 staff members that will now be covered under that union.

Ed Dept report documents pandemic’s toll on underserved students

English learners, students with disabilities, students of color, and students who identify as LGBTQ faced hardships to access and opportunities during the pandemic, while nearly all students have experienced mental health challenges, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Education Wednesday. The disparities, many of which existed before the pandemic, are “cause for great concern,” the 53-page report said. Although the report is not a legal analysis, it does point out disparities can sometimes be evidence of legal injuries under federal civil rights laws, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Back to the classroom: Infusing lessons from remote and hybrid instruction to boost student engagement

With most schools moving to fully or partially remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, educators, schools, and districts have found innovative ways to engage students. Some of the approaches to student engagement that showed promise for remote instruction are likely to remain useful even when school buildings are fully open for in-person instruction. In partnership with the New Jersey Department of Education, REL Mid-Atlantic sought to identify strategies that showed promise in remote and hybrid contexts and that could still have value after the pandemic is over.

Lessons in virtual hiring for school leaders

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended a great number of systems and processes in the K-12 education system, including the hiring of principals and school leaders. More than a year into the pandemic, school districts are once again facing a remote hiring season. What can we learn from their experience last year? And what might be improved in the virtual hiring process for both district leaders and job candidates going forward?

Colorado may shift to more in-depth reading exam for some new teachers

Some prospective Colorado teachers soon could be required to take a new, more rigorous test on reading instruction to earn their state teaching licenses. The State Board of Education will decide Wednesday whether to adopt the new exam, called the Praxis 5205, for elementary, early childhood, and special education candidates seeking teaching licenses. If approved, the requirement would take effect Sept. 1, though teacher candidates will still be allowed to take the existing licensure exam for another year.

Playbook offers strategies for recruiting, retaining diverse teaching

The 152-page Teaching Profession Playbook was developed by the Learning Policy Institute and the Public Leadership Institute in collaboration with 26 organizations and five individual experts. The digital playbook includes examples of legislation; a curated list of publications, by topic, for further reading; a guide to talking about teacher shortages and strengthening the profession; and examples of research-based policies.

A new tool can help districts make progress on teacher diversity

A recent Education Week article underscored how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the longstanding need to improve the diversity of the teacher workforce. Expanding the diversity of teachers is one route to improving the educational outcomes of students of color and reducing disparities in achievement. Studies have documented that students, especially Black students, taught by a teacher of the same race generally score higher on math and reading tests and have better educational outcomes.

Design principles for schools: Putting the science of learning and development into action

Education aims to give every student opportunities to learn and thrive, but our current education system has not been designed to promote the equitable opportunities or outcomes that today’s children and families deserve and that our democracy and society need. Our system was designed for a different world—to support mass education preparing students for their presumed places in life. That world believed that talent and skills were scarce, it trusted averages as a measure of individuals, and it was a world in which racist beliefs and stereotypes shaped the system so that only some children were deemed worthy of the opportunity.

Evidence-based funding

In 2017, Illinois enacted a new approach for distributing state dollars to school districts called the Evidence-Based Formula (EBF). EBF replaced a formula that had been in place for over two decades and national studies had declared was the most inequitable in the country. The path to passage of EBF took years of political fights, proposals, task forces, and active advocacy. Often front-page news, the fight for fair funding ultimately resulted in a bi-partisan agreement where there would be no “winners or losers” among school districts.

ISBE releases multilingual FAQ document 

ISBE’s Multilingual Department has posted an FAQ document that provides guidance on English Learner (EL) Placement and Seal of Biliteracy Determination with Provisional and Preliminary ACCESS Results. This list of FAQs addresses how to place EL students for the 2021-22 school year and utilize 2021 ACCESS scores for Seal of Biliteracy awards, given the extended testing window this year. Please send any questions you may have about EL placement to Please email Seal of Biliteracy questions to