Spring 2022 Michigan Education Research Association (MERA) Virtual Conference


Friday, April 29, 2022  (8:45 A.M. – 3:10 P.M.)

“District/School Level Teacher Shortage Testimonies,” Melissa Saleh (Elementary Principal, South Lake Schools) and Leadriane Roby (Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools) 8:45 – 9:15 A.M.

Two administrators (Central Office & Elementary Building) will share their perspectives regarding how the teacher shortage is affecting their roles and responsibilities as leaders in their respective districts. The administrators represent smaller and larger school districts located in the state of Michigan.

“Teacher Shortages: a perfect storm in the making before and during the pandemic,” Elaine Weiss (Policy Director, National Academy of Social Insurance) 9:15 – 10:00 A.M.

The factors driving our current teacher shortage crisis, which have been growing for many decades, were exacerbated by the Great Recession. Contrary to the narrative of a robust recovery, many schools and districts never recovered, and thus entered the COVID-19 pandemic already in trouble. Drawing on a six-part series co-authored with Emma Garcia for the Economic Policy Institute that employs data from surveys of teachers themselves, combined with more recent research we have done on inadequate and inequitable school funding trends, this session illustrates how teacher shortages were a perfect storm in the making in 2019, laying the ground for the pandemic to worsen the crisis.

“The lessons we learned and the solutions to the teacher shortage problem as we move forward,” Emma Garcia (Senior Researcher, Learning Policy Institute) 10:00 – 10:45 A.M.

During her presentation: “The lessons we learnt and the solutions to the teacher shortage problem as we move forward,” García will offer updated evidence on how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated some of the existing problems for the teaching profession. She will also discuss initiatives that arose these years that could provide immediate relief but also help the education system tackle the shortage of teachers in a more decisive manner.

Break 10:45 – 11:00 A.M.

“The Real Teacher Shortages and How to Solve Them,” Sandi Jacobs (Independent Consultant, EducationCounsel) 11:00 – 11:45 A.M.

Are there widespread teacher shortages in U.S. public education? Recent headlines suggest there are. But a closer look at school staffing trends in recent years yields a more nuanced story, one with important consequences for education policymakers. This session will look at pre-pandemic teacher supply and demand trends, identify new staffing questions raised by the Covid crisis, and offer policy recommendations to help states and school districts address schools’ true human capital needs to ensure that all students-especially those too often marginalized and underserved-are taught by effective educators.

Lunch 11:45 A.M.– 12:15 P.M.

“Michigan’s Education Workforce: What do the data really say?,” Kelli Cassaday (Education Consultant, MDE Office of Educator Excellence) and Kate Boswell Gallagher (Manager of the Data and Accountability Unit, MDE Office of Educator Excellence) 12:15 – 1:15 P.M.

Take a deep dive into Michigan’s education labor data through the lens of the annual Educator Workforce Data Report (EWDR). The EWDR provides snapshot and trend data for all areas of the credentialed educator workforce including recruitment, preparation, professional learning, educator evaluation, and recognition programs. Get your questions answered and familiarize yourself with the data readily available for our education stakeholders.

A District’s Response,” Arnetta Thompson (Superintendent, Muskegon Heights) and Rane Garcia (Director, MDE Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) 1:15 – 2:00 P.M.

During the 2018-2019 Arnetta and Rané worked together in a district in West Michigan. Their district struggled to hire certified teachers and faced high levels of teacher turnover, about 50% annually. They will share how they forged partnerships with a university and the Michigan Department of Education to develop a program to ‘grow our own’ teachers. Through this initiative not only did teacher stability improve to 95% for over two years, but they also increased teacher diversity to better reflect the student population. These efforts resulted in better educational opportunities for students and stronger connections with the community.

Break 2:00 – 2:10 P.M.

State Assessments 2022… How’d we do?”, Andrew Middlestead (Director, Office of Educational Assessment & Accountability) 2:10 – 2:40 P.M.

In this session Andy will provide an update on how the year went with state required assessment and provide any insight of new things to come. (or nothing new to come)

What to Expect for Michigan’s 2022 School Accountability Systems?”, Chris Janzer (Assistant Director, MDE Office of Accountability) 2:40 – 3:10 P.M.

Chris will discuss Michigan’s two school accountability systems, School Grades and School Index. While much will remain the same, a short School Index refresher will help prepare you for fall 2022. Also covered in this session are upcoming changes to the systems and reporting in 2022 and beyond.

“Conference Feedback/Evaluation,” Kathleen Miller (MERA Board President) 3:10 – 3:15 P.M.

Conference participants will be asked to respond to an online evaluation of the presentations throughout the day. The data collected will be used by the Board to improve future MERA conferences. All submitted evaluations will be appreciated.