Skip Navigation
archived information
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
  • Paula Lancaster, 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

Developing Recruitment and Retention Materials to Support District Administrators in Michigan

Building from previous MAITP studies and coaching projects, the Michigan Department of Education requested REL Midwest’s assistance in developing materials to help district leaders improve their teacher recruitment and retention strategies. In this training project, REL Midwest worked with Michigan Department of Education staff to collect findings from research and recommendations from the field and turn them into practitioner-focused resources that school districts can use to improve their teacher workforce. This work especially considered the needs of small districts that do not always have the local resources needed to tackle their recruitment and retention needs. Resources are available for viewing and download.

Improving Michigan Teacher Recruitment and Retention Coaching in Lansing

MAITP continues to focus on district-level efforts to strengthen the teaching profession. In 2020, REL Midwest launched a partnership with Lansing Public Schools. REL Midwest is engaging Lansing staff 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 district staff 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

To make informed decisions about their teacher talent recruitment and retention policies and supports, district leaders need accessible data on their teacher workforce. Districts implement teacher workforce strategies without knowing the causes of shortages or turnover, which leads to ineffective strategies. Determining the root causes of teacher workforce issues is critical to identifying and applying appropriate solutions or interventions. To address this need, REL Midwest worked with the Michigan Department of Education and other stakeholders to develop a district workforce diagnostic data tool and conducted a literature review of key teacher workforce indicators [171 KB PDF icon ] that could be included in the data tool. The tool is meant to help districts utilize and make sense of the data they are required to submit annually to the state and consists of a data dashboard connected to evidence-based research for districts to use to assess their needs and challenge areas. The tool includes resources for districts such as a survey to gather information about teachers’ awareness and perspectives of the quality of current district supports and strategies to further suggest root causes driving recruitment and retention challenges flagged by the data dashboard.

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.


Supports Associated with Teacher Retention in Michigan

REL Midwest conducted a study to identify teacher supports (policies, programs, and practices) associated with teacher retention at the local level in Michigan. Findings from this study can help education leaders in Michigan understand which types of supports, such as supports for new teachers, show promise in improving teacher retention and merit more rigorous investigation.

Michigan Teachers Who Are Not Teaching: Who Are They, and What Would Motivate Them to Teach?

To alleviate teacher shortages, education leaders in Michigan have considered recruiting certified teachers who are not currently teaching (both those who have never taught and those who left teaching). This REL Midwest study analyzed teacher certification, employment, and survey data to gather information on the viability of this recruitment option. An earlier sneak peek version of these findings is available here. A related infographic highlights the study’s key findings.

Understanding the Teacher Pipeline for Indiana’s K–12 Public Schools

Leaders at the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the Indiana Department of Education are concerned about teacher shortages and want a better understanding of the teacher pipeline for the state’s K–12 public schools. This study examined the characteristics of and outcomes for students who enrolled in an Indiana public college or university and pursued a bachelor’s degree in education at any point in college. The study also explored factors related to completion of a bachelor’s degree. A related infographic highlights the study’s key findings.

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.

Blog Posts