Virtual School Meanderings

September 18, 2014

Cultivate Effective Leadership — McREL e-News September 2014

From Tuesday’s inbox…

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September 2014

Research Roundup

Advancing the Success of Boys and Men of Color in Education: Recommendations for Policymakers  

Collective Policy Statement from seven university-based research centers

This report, produced by seven university-based research centers that co-investigated the educational experiences of boys and men of color, makes 15 recommendations for preK-12 and postsecondary solutions to addressing lagging academic performance in minority groups.

Why Flunking Exams Is Actually a Good Thing

The New York Times


This article from The New York Times examines the results of a recent study out of U.C.L.A. that examined how pretesting improves retention of information. Using multiple-choice tests that asked questions both related and unrelated to the material being taught, students took a pretest at the beginning of a course, and were supplied with the correct answers promptly after taking the test. On the cumulative final exam, students averaged a 10% higher score on questions related to the material taught in the class.

Principals Aren’t Tapping Teacher-Effectiveness Data, Says Study

Education Week
This article examines the results of a study out of Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, which identified barriers to the use of teacher-effectiveness data in human resources decisions: access to the data; lack of availability of value-added measures during decision-making process; lack of understanding of the statistical models used in evaluation systems; and absence of training in how to use the data.

In the Field

McREL’s new teacher evaluation system approved for use in New York


McREL International is pleased to announce that the New York State Education Department recently approved McREL’s CUES Teacher Evaluation system for use by schools and districts in New York. The CUES system and McREL’s Principal Evaluation system, which was previously approved for use, now appear on the state’s Teacher and Principal Practice Rubrics approved list, which can be found here.

NAESP and McREL join forces to augment principal mentoring and development


To help elementary and middle school principals be successful 21st century leaders, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and McREL International are introducing elements of McREL’s Balanced Leadership® program to NAESP’s nationally certified principal mentors to create an advanced principal mentor training program.


In the Advanced Mentor Training in Balanced Leadership, NAESP’s nationally certified principal mentors will deepen their understanding of McREL’s Balanced Leadership research applied to practice. They will use this training to provide targeted support for the development and growth of leadership skills to their protégés.
Advanced Mentor Training in Balanced Leadership will coincide with NAESP’s national Leadership Immersion Institute, January 22-24, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Click here for more information and registration for this event.


Read our press release here.

McREL blog: Student success is influenced by district leadership


In a recent blog post, CEO and President Tim Waters weighs in on a recent report from the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy, which looked at whether superintendents affect student achievement within their districts. Their findings run counter to our own research on the same subject, but there were fundamental differences in methodology between the two studies, as Dr. Waters explains. “We discovered positive relationships between key, specific practices of superintendents-and, perhaps more importantly, their leadership teams-and higher average measures of district-level achievement,” he writes. Read the blog post here.

McREL blog: Some schools say no to homework: Is that a good idea?


In our latest blog post, Chief Program Officer Howard Pitler offers four tips for teachers that align with research on homework when developing homework policies. He also discusses how heavily homework should weigh on a student’s cumulative grade, asking, “Considering that teachers really can’t know who actually completes homework assignments, is it good practice to allow homework to potentially account for up to half of a student’s grade?” Read the blog post here.

Events & Opportunities

Webinar: The Essentials of a Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS)


Join us on October 15 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, 12:00 p.m. Mountain, for the first in a series of four free 30-minute webinars outlining the essential steps for implementing an MTSS to engage all students toward college- and career-readiness. Future webinars in the series: MTSS Team Structures on December 16; MTSS Data Processes on February 4; and MTSS Standard-driven and Evidence-based Instruction and Intervention on February 25. Register here for the first session.

Denver: District-level Leadership Institute


Take your leadership to the next level and make a greater impact on the success of the students and staff in your district. McREL’s District-level Leadership Institute, being held October 20-22 in Denver, offers the latest research and most effective strategies for successfully initiating and managing short- and long-term improvement and innovation in your system:

  • Day 1: Connecting School and District Leadership through the Balanced Leadership® Framework
  • Day 2: Evaluation Systems for Superintendent and Central Office Instructional Staff
  • Day 3: Leadership Coaching and Mentoring
This is a free event for superintendents and other district-level leaders. Attendees will be responsible for their own travel and lodging. Space is limited to 40 participants; RSVP required. Register here.

McREL in the News

Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) Public School System wishes McREL CEO a happy retirement 


An article in Marianas Variety describes a surprise greeting from CNMI Education Commissioner Rita Sablan and her staff, who thanked Tim Waters, McREL’s CEO who will retire at the end of September, for all the help that McREL has given to the school system. “McREL International has helped the islands’ public schools by making sure teachers and education leaders have access to professional development training,” she said.

Penns Valley School District (Pennsylvania) uses 12 Touchstones as study guide for teachers


On September 1, the Centre Daily Times in State College, Penn., ran a back-to-school story about local districts, in which superintendent Brian Griffith of Penns Valley School District in Spring Mills mentioned that his district has been using The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching (Goodwin, Hubbell) as a teacher study guide to prepare for the school year, in order to be “demanding, supportive, and intentional.”
In This Issue

Featured Content

Bryan Goodwin explores curiosity in ASCD’s latest Educational Leadership Research Says column


Bryan Goodwin observes, “We probably owe most conveniences of modern life to someone’s curiosity,” in his latest column, “Curiosity Is Fleeting, but Teachable,” in ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine, in which he explores the role of curiosity in learning. Read the article here.
Blogger Michael Ebeling posted a thoughtful response to Goodwin’s article on his blog. Read his response here.

Connect with Us on Social Media


For the latest in professional development opportunities, education news, research, and McREL employment opportunities, follow us on our social media channels.


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our profile on LinkedIn


Find us on Google+ View our videos on YouTube Visit our blog

McREL International | 1.800.858.6830 | Fax 303.337.3005
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
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McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500 | Denver | CO | 80237

September 9, 2014

Common Core and Next Generation Standards: Successful Planning and Implementation

Also from today’s inbox…

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WestEd E-Bulletin
The New Content Standards

New Era of Standards: Tap Into WestEd’s Collection of Resources

Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards promote a vision in which all students are highly prepared for both college and career. Plan and implement the new standards in your school, district, and/or state with resources from WestEd, including:

  • Free webinars
  • Free reports
  • Books and publications
WestEd & Partners Webinars

A Close Encounter, Through the Writers’ Eyes, of the New ELA/ELD Framework

Deepen your understanding of California’s new English language arts/English language development (ELD) framework. You will also discover strategies for teaching the Common Core and ELD standards.

The Ones That Got Away

Why Completing a College Degree Is Not the Only Way to Succeed

Research shows many students participating in workforce training programs at California community colleges secure high earnings whether or not they complete a degree or certificate. This brief explores new ways of measuring community college student success.

Speak Out, Listen Up!

Speak Out, Listen Up! Tools for Using Student Perspectives and Local Data for School Improvement

Listening closely to what students say about their school experiences can help educators better understand and address local challenges and rethink policies and practices. Learn how to use tools to elicit and listen to student voices to inform school improvement efforts.

Screenshot of the Doing What Works Library Site

Doing What Works Online Library

The Doing What Works (DWW) Library contains the full range of DWW materials to help educators improve student academic performance. This new online resource includes interviews with researchers and educators, multimedia examples and sample materials from schools and classrooms, and tools that can help educators take action.

Making Sense of Student Work

Making Sense of Student Work Protocol and Companion Materials

The Making Sense of Student Work protocol and companion materials help K-12 teachers promote effective student assessment and teacher collaboration around analyzing and interpreting student work.

Product Spotlight
PD2Go Logo and Website Screenshot

PD2GO: Early Childhood Professional Development

PD2GO (Professional Development To Go) is a new strategically organized collection of professional development experiences (or “packs”) designed for early childhood center directors and family child care home providers to use with staff. Get started by choosing a pack today.

Featured Initiative

Center on Standards & Assessment Implementation

The Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) is a collaboration between WestEd and CRESST, two national leaders in the standards and assessment field. CSAI helps states and the districts they serve implement high-quality standards and assessments throughout the United States.

CSAI is part of a federal network of technical assistance centers sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.


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Our mailing address is:


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San Francisco, CA 94107

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August 21, 2014

Supporting Success — McREL e-News August 2014

A final item from Tuesday’s inbox…


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August 2014

Research Roundup

Missing the Mark: Students Gain Little from Mandating Extra Math and Science Courses  


Using data from the ACT, National Student Clearinghouse, and the Illinois State Board of Education, a new ACT policy brief shows that taking extra math and science courses did not have a significant effect on student college- and career-readiness for Illinois high school students. Read the brief here.

4th Graders Struggle With Icons, Directions on Computer-Based Tests

Education Week


This article outlines the results of a recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics, which found that 4th graders had difficulty using basic functions on a computer-based writing assessment. The students were able to use computers to type, organize, and compose, but had trouble with drop-down menus, editing icons, the highlighter tool, and text-to-speech functions.

A Double Dose of Math Has Diminishing Returns, Study Finds

Education Week
In a study released by Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, 6th-grade students in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools who took one standard and one remedial math class scored significantly higher on the end-of-year state math test than students who took only one math class. However, the gains achieved after doubling up on math diminished completely by high school. Read the article about the study results here.

In the Field

McREL blog: A “fresh eyes” perspective on school climate change


Shelby Maier, systems transformation researcher at McREL, presents one idea you can easily implement in your school climate change plan. “The appearance of your school sends implicit and explicit messages to your parents, students, staff, and visitors about the quality of the learning environment and care to be found inside,” she writes. Read her blog post here.

McREL Policy Brief: Continuous improvement in schools and districts


Discussions about improving public education often focus on outcomes without considering how schools and districts can accomplish those outcomes. Research shows that using a continuous improvement process has proven successful in healthcare, manufacturing, and technology, and may hold potential for use in education as well. This brief defines and describes the continuous improvement process, and looks at the policy considerations for using such a process in education to help schools, districts, and systems achieve higher levels of reliable performance. Read our latest policy brief here.

Success Story: Helping Florida districts better implement and evaluate professional development (PD)


McREL’s work with the Florida Department of Education helped improve schools’ and districts’ capacity to implement and evaluate their individual PD needs, as identified through the reviews conducted by the state in each school district. Read more about our Florida work here.

Events & Opportunities

U.S. Department of Education announces $250 million in preschool grants nationwide


On August 14, the U.S. Department of Education announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to offer $250 million in federal money to support early childhood education. The Preschool Development Grants program will accept applications for funding through October 14, 2014. Read more here.

McREL in the News

pitlerHoward Pitler discusses classroom observations and coaching on Wisconsin public radio 


In July, Dr. Steve Brown of Wisconsin’s WGTD public radio interviewed McREL’s Chief Program Officer Howard Pitler about the importance of trust in building a purposeful school community, conducting instructional observations, and peer-to-peer coaching. They also talked about technology in the classroom and Cosmic Chemistry, McREL’s out-of-school time program for high school science students. Listen to the interview here.

N.J. district reports benefits from McREL’s teacher evaluation system


Administrators from the Passaic Valley High School (PVHS) district in Little Falls, N.J., reported to trustees on the district’s adoption of McREL’s Teacher Evaluation system at a board meeting on July 22. Principal Ray Rotella noted, “We feel the process for the evaluation system is very beneficial for us because of the teacher input, and there’s been a general agreement on the administrative part and teachers’ part that this system started constructive conversations on instruction and how we can continue to improve and take suggestions.” Read the entire article at here.

In This Issue

Featured Content

Free Webinar: Using the POMT application: A simple dashboard for program outcomes, measures, and targets — August 21


This free webinar, offered by REL Pacific, will focus on the relationships between the various components of a program monitoring plan; the role of leadership in the planning and assessment of a program; and how REL Pacific’s Program Outcomes, Measures, and Targets (POMT) module can help you create an ongoing plan for monitoring, measuring, and tracking outcomes over time to evaluate program effectiveness. This webinar will help teachers, administrators, policy makers, and evaluators understand how program monitoring can be an important method for ensuring that programs run smoothly. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, August 21 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. (MDT). Learn more and register for the webinar here.
For more information on the POMT application, visit the REL Pacific website.

Connect with Us on Social Media


For the latest in professional development opportunities, education news, research, and McREL employment opportunities, follow us on our social media channels.


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our profile on LinkedIn


Find us on Google+ View our videos on YouTube Visit our blog

McREL International | 1.800.858.6830 | Fax 303.337.3005
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
Forward to a friend

McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500 | Denver | CO | 80237

August 11, 2014

Digital Learning For Credit Recovery In Idaho And Beyond

This came across my radar screen last week…

Digital Learning for Credit Recovery in Idaho and Beyond

A REL Northwest Webinar | Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | 9:30–10:45 am PDT, 10:30–11:45 am MDT Online programs and courses have been hailed as a viable learning solution to many issues facing schools, including credit recovery. This free webinar will discuss key strategies in building a successful online program and curriculum to meet the needs of at-risk students and those who need credit recovery for graduation. Topics include:

  • National trends for online program design, course functionality, course structure, and teacher support
  • How one program, the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, meets the specific learning needs of students through
    modifications to online programs, trainings for local mentors and online teachers, adjustments to course design,
    and working with districts to implement blended programs


Janet Twyman, Ph.D., is the Director of Innovation and Technology at the National Center on Innovations in Learning. Twyman’s work includes identifying emerging promising practices in education technology and developing web-based systems and tools.

Sherawn Reberry, Ed.D., is the Director of Education Programs at the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA), a statewide virtual school established by the Idaho legislature in 2002. IDLA provides e-learning expertise, virtual services, and leadership in collaboration with Idaho school teachers and administrators to ensure all of Idaho students’ needs are being met.

Who should attend

This 75-minute webinar is designed for:

• School administrators, counselors, and educators, particularly in rural and/or alternative schools
• State education agency staff interested in online programs for at-risk students
• Parents whose students might benefit from online instructional programs

To register

Register at

For more information Contact Claire Gates at

This event is sponsored by Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest,
funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences.

August 2, 2014

Teacher Collaboration, School Turnaround, School Climate, and More

A final item from Wednesday for you all…

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WestEd E-Bulletin
Making Sense of Student Work

Making Sense of Student Work: A Protocol for Teacher Collaboration

This new resource provides groups of K–12 teachers with steps and guidelines designed to promote productive discussions of student work, leading to improved teaching and student learning.

“[Making Sense of Student Work] supports teachers who want to understand what their students know and how they reason so that they can leverage learning in productive ways.”

— Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor of Education, Stanford University

students listening

Community Engagement in School Turnaround: Reaching and Engaging Rural Stakeholders

Learn and discuss the issues rural schools and districts face when engaging families and communities in the school improvement process. This webinar will also help you identify strategies for meaningfully engaging key stakeholders. Thursday, August 7, 11am-12:15pm (Pacific Time)

students engaging with each other

Community College Students Are Attaining Significant Wage Gains—Without a Degree

Community colleges are creating more varied programs and pathways to help students advance their careers and enhance their lives.

Alternative ways of measuring how well community colleges serve career technical education students will be explored in an August 28 webinar, hosted by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development. In addition, view two related videos created with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Learn more about WestEd’s work in this area by visiting our project page and downloading a resource on wage gains for short-term course-takers.

young students discussing with teacher

California Schools That Beat the Odds

A new WestEd report uses the most recent school academic performance data to update a list of California elementary, middle, and high schools that beat the odds by performing better than would have been predicted based on their students’ socioeconomic characteristics for at least four consecutive years.

The report also confirms previous findings that positive school climate is a factor strongly associated with beating the academic achievement odds among middle and high school students. This underscores the importance of making school climate improvement a priority in Local Control and Accountability Plans.

teacher instructing children

Cradle to College & Career Pathway Institute for Special Education Administrators

Are you a special education administrator who is interested in improving your ability to align districtwide initiatives and priorities to benefit students’ postsecondary outcomes?

Join us for this free institute, designed to help you train staff to successfully implement the Multi-Tiered System of Supports framework. Thursday, August 7, 8:30am-3pm, Sacramento, CA


How Arizona’s Dropout Crisis Affects Communities, Creates Economic Losses for the State of Arizona

Failing to prepare young people for adulthood creates both social and financial losses for federal, state, and local governments. This new report details how high school dropouts and disconnected youth have affected—and continue to affect—the state of Arizona.

Beverly Young

Beverly Young, CA State University Chancellor, Elected Chair of WestEd’s Board of Directors

“Beverly Young has served on WestEd’s Board of Directors in numerous leadership positions for over six years, and it is a testament to her dedication to our agency’s mission and her skill as a director that her colleagues elected her to serve as Board Chair in 2014-15.”

Glen Harvey, WestEd CEO

Product Spotlight
Examining Mathematics Practice through Classroom Artifacts

Examining Mathematics Practice through Classroom Artifacts:
20% Discount!

How can elementary and middle school teachers know if their math students are really learning? This resource describes how to use classroom artifacts to assess students’ thinking and understanding of mathematical content.


Featured Initiative
REL West and WestEd

Regional Educational Laboratory West Meeting Education Needs in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah

The Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West) provides research and resources designed to increase the use of quality data and evidence in education decision-making.

Most REL West work is carried out in partnership with educators—from state and local decision-makers to district and school support providers and practitioners—through eight regional research alliances.

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Copyright © 2014 WestEd. All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:


730 Harrison Street

San Francisco, CA 94107

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