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Best of 2016
Jan 2017

Here's a look back at some highlights from 2016, including close examinations of what the Every Student Succeeds Act means for students, educators, and schools; a snapshot of homeschooling in the United States; and considerations for expanding access to preschool. We gained new insight, saw opportunities to help students achieve, and gave policymakers evidence for sound decision making. 


Two briefs, two 10 Series reports, and a collection of resources on ESSA comprise the top publications for 2016. See below for more, including creating healthy schools, focusing on the adults in low-performing schools, the reality of ESSA, expanding access to preschool, and promoting SEL.

1. Creating Healthy Schools: Ten Key Ideas for the SEL and School Climate Community—Liz Devaney and Juliette Berg share key ideas from some of the nation’s top SEL and school climate experts on how schools can integrate and align socioeconomic learning with academic learning.

2. Want to Improve Low-Performing Schools? Focus on the Adults—Kerstin Le Floch, Catherine Barbour, and Alicia Garcia remind us that schools are only as strong and effective as the adults who work in them—a fact doubly true for chronically low-performing schools.

3. What ESSA Really Means for Students and Educators—In light of the now year-old law, the Education Policy Center assembled relevant resources that describe what ESSA really means for students, educators, and schools.  

4. Ten Questions Local Policymakers Should Ask About Expanding Access to Preschool—Early childhood experts Susan Muenchow and Emily Weinberg walk us through major considerations for expanding access to preschool, complete with program comparisons of cities across the country.

5. When Districts Support and Integrate Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)—What happens when a district adopts SEL? Researchers Kimberly Kendziora and Nick Yoder describe what district adoption looks like and provide recommendations for districts implementing SEL in this brief. 


For a look at what was on the forefront of our readers’ minds this past year, look no further than our blog. We covered popular topics such as the teacher shortage—including in special education—school turnaround, ESSA and English learners, and assessing SEL development.

1. Critical Shortages in Special Education Teachers. Sound Familiar? Teacher shortages may be the most acute problem in special education. Lynn Holdheide and Jenny DeMonte explore the issue and ask, “What drives special education teachers out of that role? And how can we keep them?”

2. It’s 2016: Do You Know Where the Teachers Are? Commonly quoted statistics about the nation’s teacher shortage don’t tell the whole story. Researchers Alex Berg-Jacobson, Jesse Levin, and Jim Lindsay provide more context on teacher supply, school enrollments, and the retirement rate for educators that may surprise you.

3. Three Things We Learned From the Study of School TurnaroundKerstin Le Floch shares important lessons from case studies of 25 School Improvement Grant schools and the corresponding interviews with district officials, principals, teachers, instructional coaches, parents, and students.

4. What Will ESSA Mean for English Learners?—During the past few decades, English learners have become an increasingly significant student population—so what effect will ESSA have on their academic growth? AIR’s Diane August and Erin Haynes discuss.

5. Are Schools Ready to Assess Social and Emotional Development?—There’s a growing consensus that students must master social and emotional skills—along with traditional academics—to succeed in college, careers, and life. AIR’s Deb Moroney and Michael McGarrah discuss whether schools are ready to assess these nontraditional factors.


When words fail us, there are pictures. See our visuals on international reading competencies, the teacher workforce, and homeschooling in these top infographics.

1. Is Reading Contagious? An International Snapshot

2. A Teacher Workforce Snapshot in Infographics

3. Homeschooling in the United States



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