June 28, 2021

June 2021 Research Rundown

By Krista Kaput

Welcome to EdAllies’ June Research Rundown: Our curated list of recent, relevant research we think is worth adding to the education equity conversation. This month, we are sharing studies on:

  • The role of alternative teacher preparation in changing teacher characteristics, 
  • Parent stances on COVID-19 recovery services, and 
  • The long-term negative impact of school suspensions.  
1. Changing the Composition of Beginning Teachers: The Role of State Alternative Certification Policies

Educational Policy, May 2021

This study explores whether changes to local alternative teacher preparation policy correlate with changes to the make-up of the teacher workforce. The researchers found two notable trends: First, that an expansion of alternative teacher preparation programs was associated with an increase in the share of teachers of color in first-year teacher cohorts, and second, that a larger share graduated from a selective college. Spanning over twenty years of data, the study also found:

  • A larger share of new white teachers came through traditional, university-based teacher preparation programs than alternative programs (82.5% vs. 76.9%), 
  • Teachers of color are more likely to enter teaching through an alternative teacher preparation program, and 
  • Nearly 40% of beginning alternatively licensed teachers taught an in-demand subject, as compared to only 25% of new, traditionally trained teachers. 


Minnesota schools continue to face shortages of teachers of color and teachers in specific fields. In 2017, the Minnesota legislature made statewide policy changes to create high-quality, alternative pathways to the classroom. In 2019, the Learning Disabilities Association of Minnesota launched the state’s first alternative teacher preparation program, followed shortly by a second program at Lakes Country Service Cooperative. Since then, TNTP and Southwest West Central Service Cooperative have also been approved. These tailored programs help fill significant needs for special education and career and technical education teachers. Minnesota is still home to a few non-conventional pathways—like Teach for America and Grow Your Own programs—that are run through institutions of higher education. 
Read the full analysis

2. Coronavirus Tracking Survey K-12 Methodology and Topline Results

USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research, May 2021

This nationally representative panel of almost 1,500 parents of K-12 students, from April – May 2021, shared insights into student participation and support for a variety of strategies states and districts are considering for COVID-19 recovery. Looking at immediate interventions: While only about one-third of families had access to in-person summer school, about 25% enrolled their child.  And, about one-third of parents with access to tutoring indicated that their children were participating. 

Looking forward, parents largely support policies related to using technology to support flexible learning, with most parents favoring remote tutoring (82%), parent-teacher conferences (80%), and student-teacher communication (75%). Parents also supported using distance learning for when the weather is bad or if a school needed to be closed for another reason (73%). Parent support was low for several other policies, including: 

  • 29% support using pass/fail grades instead of A-F letter grades,
  • 23% support a longer school year, 
  • 19% support longer school days, and
  • 15% support promoting students to the next grade level even if they don’t meet requirements.


In March, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), which sent $1.3 billion to Minnesota for K-12 education. Of that, 90% of the federal stimulus funding ($1.18 billion) is going directly to districts and charter schools through the Title I formula—which is based on the number of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The remaining 10% of the funds ($132 million) went to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). MDE is currently working on their plan for how they will spend the money, which they will submit to the U.S. Department of Education on June 30. 
Read the full report

3. The School to Prison Pipeline: Long-Run Impacts of School Suspensions on Adult Crime

National Bureau of Economic Research, September 2019

Using data from a school district in North Carolina, the study explores the relationship between suspensions, achievement, and incarceration. The district data provided a rigorous way to test the causal effects of suspensions because, in 2002, schools were redistricted and about 50% of students were assigned to new schools. Using this data, researchers found that students who were assigned to schools that had high suspension rates were 15-20% more likely to be arrested and incarcerated as adults and that they were also less likely to attend a four-year college. These effects were starker for male students of color. 

The researchers also found direct evidence that a school’s suspension rate changes when it gets a new principal, suggesting that school leaders have discretion over school discipline policies and that when they lean toward harsher discipline that it has a negative, long-term impact on students—particularly male students of color. 


Minnesota’s history of disproportionately suspending and expelling Black and Indigenous students at higher rates than white students is well-documented. Local advocates have been calling for action on this issue for years, there has been some progress made at the Minnesota legislature. This year legislators seriously considered several provisions that would improve school climate, strengthen parental involvement, and ensure that students have due process, including a ban on suspending K-3 students, but could not come to a final agreement. Studies like this point to how important it will be to act with more urgency on school discipline reform.
Learn more about the study

Declining Enrollment Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Atypical Symptoms of Autism Meant My Daughter Went Years Without the School Support We Needed

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