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Midwest Alliance to Improve Teacher Preparation

Click the link to see the full handout (in PDF format), which includes information about the alliance’s goals, members, and research agenda.

Download the alliance’s research agenda [357 KB PDF icon ]

Download the alliance’s overview handout [141 KB PDF icon ]

Partnership Facilitator

Steve Dibb

Research Liaison

Natalya Gnedko-Berry

Partnership Objective

Research has found that the biggest in-school factor in strengthening student achievement is teacher quality. However, declining enrollment in preparation programs and low retention in the profession have led to teacher shortages, meaning schools must rely on less qualified candidates to fill some teaching positions. This gap in access to effective teachers highlights the importance of understanding current trends and the challenges associated with recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers.

The REL Midwest Alliance to Improve Teacher Preparation (MAITP) leverages existing data on education preparation providers to explore teacher preparation models, study relationships between existing models and teacher and student outcomes, and examine the implementation of changes in state policy across the Midwest. MAITP’s primary focus is teacher preparation in Michigan. In addition, a community of practice connects key stakeholders across the region and is an active partner in the research process.

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has worked to address the quality of the state’s education preparation providers. In recent years, the state has focused on continuous improvement of teacher preparation and the use of accountability as a lever to improve the quality of the teacher pipeline. MDE’s underlying assumption is that if motivated, well-trained teachers have opportunities for growth, collaboration, and leadership, then student learning will improve.


  • Rajeshri Bhatia, Grand Valley State University
  • Erika Bolig, Michigan Department of Education
  • Douglas Braschler, Hope College
  • Leah Breen, Michigan Department of Education
  • Corey Drake, Michigan State University
  • Paul Helder, Michigan Education Association
  • Betty Kirby, Central Michigan University
  • Sarah-Kate LaVan, Michigan Department of Education
  • Jason Mellema, Ingham County Intermediate School District
  • Laura Moellering, Choice Schools Associates
  • Emily Pohlonski, Novi Community School District

Training, Coaching, and Technical Support Projects

Developing a System for Reporting Outcomes of Michigan Educator Preparation Institutions

MDE would like to better understand outcomes associated with educator preparation institutions to develop and sustain a high-quality teaching workforce. REL Midwest is coaching MDE Office of Educator Excellence staff to help develop an MDE-run system for regular reporting of the outcomes of 35 state-based educator preparation institutions offering 84 teaching programs.

Using State Data to Address Questions About Illinois’ Teacher Workforce

In late 2017, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) asked its staff to engage in “a year of inquiry” on the status of Illinois’ teacher workforce. To help fulfill this request, REL Midwest is coaching ISBE staff through the process of identifying and refining research questions, identifying data sources and analytic methods to address each research question, collecting and preparing data for analysis, and analyzing data and reporting findings. As a result of this project, ISBE will have access to research-based information for policymaking, and ISBE staff will have a process for completing this reporting annually.

Exploring the Potential of Clinically Oriented Teacher Preparation Programs for Michigan

The Michigan Department of Education and REL Midwest conducted a two-part training to explore the potential of clinically oriented teacher preparation programs, or teacher residencies, in Michigan. During in-person sessions, higher education and K–12 representatives from across Michigan came together to learn about teacher residencies and to identify opportunities for potential partnerships between the higher education and K–12 sectors. REL Midwest generated a training handout that describes characteristics of successful clinically oriented teacher preparation programs, and profiles 10 of these programs throughout the United States, including two in Michigan.

Works in Progress

Examining Teacher Shortage and Surplus in Michigan

This study will examine existing teacher-, school-, and district-level data from school years 2008/09 to 2015/16 to describe patterns and trends in the supply and demand of teachers and teacher shortage and surplus in public schools in Michigan. In addition, the study will project teacher shortage and surplus in Michigan during the next five years.