Skip Navigation
Skip Navigation

Midwest Alliance to Improve Teacher Preparation

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

Partnership Facilitator

Dan Frederking

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.


  • Katherine Bertolini, Maple Valley Schools
  • Rajeshri Bhatia, Grand Valley State University
  • 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
  • Susan O’Connor, Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District
  • Emily Pohlonski, Novi Community School District
  • Betty Underwood, Lansing School District

Training, Coaching, and Technical Support Projects

Improving Michigan Teacher Recruitment and Retention Coaching in Lansing and Maple Valley

MAITP continues to focus on district-level efforts to strengthen the teaching profession. In 2020, REL Midwest launched district partnerships with Lansing Public Schools and Maple Valley Public Schools. REL Midwest is engaging Lansing and Maple Valley in a structured process of data analysis, root-cause analysis, goal setting, and action planning around their local context of teacher supply and demand. REL Midwest will then support the districts as they begin the implementation stage of their action plan, including identifying measurable outcomes.

Coaching on Tools for Michigan School Districts to Develop an Effective, Stable Teaching Workforce

Although districts in Michigan have a wealth of policies, practices, and supports aimed at teacher recruitment and retention, they do not currently have a systematic way of taking stock of existing offerings and assessing their effectiveness. To address this need, REL Midwest is conducting a coaching project with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and other stakeholders to develop two tools: (1) a needs assessment that districts can use to take stock of existing programs for teacher recruitment and retention, and (2) a survey that MDE and districts will administer to gather teachers’ perspectives on the usefulness of existing supports. Using information gathered through these tools, districts can make decisions about which programs they should maintain, discontinue, or introduce.

Developing a System for Reporting Outcomes of Michigan Educator Preparation Institutions

The Michigan Department of Education wanted to better understand outcomes associated with educator preparation institutions to develop and sustain a high-quality teaching workforce. In this project, REL Midwest coached Office of Educator Excellence staff to help them develop a system for regular reporting of the outcomes for 35 Michigan-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 coached 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 gained access to research-based information for policymaking, and ISBE staff developed 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

District-Level Supports Associated with Retaining Teachers in Michigan School Districts

A main strategic goal for the Michigan Department of Education is ensuring that all students have equal access to quality teachers. This goal is impeded by a trend observed in many states: Experienced teachers tend to leave low-performing, high-poverty school districts to take vacant positions in better performing school districts that serve lower poverty student populations. The Michigan Department of Education is taking several steps to help lower performing school districts reverse this trend. To help the department in this work, REL Midwest is conducting a study to identify promising district-level supports for teachers (that is, policies, practices, or programs) that may improve teacher retention.

Teachers Who Do Not Teach: Who Are They and What Would Motivate Their Return to Teaching?

In Michigan, public school students’ access to effective teachers is hindered by teacher shortages in rural and urban regions of the state and in certain subjects. Yet the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) estimates that approximately 105,000 teacher certificate holders who currently reside in Michigan do not teach. This study is providing MDE with information about the characteristics of nonteaching certificate holders, their reasons for leaving or never entering the teaching profession, and the incentives that could encourage them to enter or reenter the profession.

Characteristics of and Outcomes for Students who Pursued an Education Major in Indiana’s Teacher Preparation Programs

The study is describing the characteristics of students who enrolled in Indiana’s teacher preparation institutions and examining the extent to which they persisted in and graduated from a teacher preparation program, entered into teaching, and succeeded in Indiana’s public schools.


Teachers Who Are Not Teaching: Who Are They and What Would Motivate Their Return to Teaching?

REL Midwest analyzed Michigan’s teacher certification data, employment data, and data from a survey of teachers who are not teaching to inform education leaders about the viability of recruiting from the pool of certified teachers who are not teaching to alleviate teacher shortages.

Past and Projected Trends in Teacher Demand and Supply in Michigan

This REL Midwest study examined trends in teacher supply and demand in Michigan over the past five years and projected those trends five years into the future to better understand where potential teacher shortages might occur. A related infographic [313 KB PDF icon ] highlights the study’s key findings.