Virtual School Meanderings

December 19, 2014

REL Midwest Research Update Newsletter Winter 2014

From Tuesday’s inbox…  Note the REL Appalachia report on Online and Distance Learning in Southwest Tennessee: Implementation and Challenges at the bottom.

To view this email as a web page, go here.
Midwest Regional Educational Laboratory at American Institutes for Research

Research Update
Newsletter

Winter 2014–2015
Vol. 3, No. 4

Grade school children in hallWelcome

Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest is one of 10 RELs funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and is administered by American Institutes for Research (AIR). Each edition of REL Midwest’sResearch Update brings you news of how our scope of work is unfolding in your state and across the region, offers information about resources available from the REL program and other research and technical assistance providers, and highlights important topics within education research. In this issue, we continue to show how research influences practice and policy—with examples from our School Turnaround Research Alliance and our Making Connections events.

IN THIS ISSUE

Our Work
REL Midwest’s Research Alliances: Making an Impact

Bridging Research and Practice: REL MidwestMaking Connections Events

News, Events, and Activities
Learn about people, organizations, and issues in the region.

Resources to Explore

Contact Us
REL Midwest
1120 East Diehl Road
Suite 200
Naperville, IL 60563-1486
866-730-6735
www.relmidwest.org
Follow REL Midwest onTwitter.

Our Work

Making an Impact: School Turnaround in Michigan

Education leaders in Michigan want to know more about how schools with risk factors for low student achievement are performing better than expected. With the help of REL Midwest and our School Turnaround Research Alliance, Michigan is reconsidering how it identifies schools that are “beating the odds” and learning more about the characteristics that set these schools apart.

Since fall 2010, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has used two statistical approaches to identify schools statewide that, despite having risk factors for low student achievement such as high poverty rates, are performing at higher levels than expected. The first approach compares the predicted performance of each school with its actual performance. The second approach compares the performance of each school with the performance levels of the 29 demographically most similar schools in the state. Based on these approaches, schools can be designated as Beating the Odds schools and receive special recognition from MDE.

The School Turnaround Research Alliance at REL Midwest—which comprises education stakeholders across Michigan, including representatives from MDE—focused on learning more about schools that are performing better than anticipated. In the first year of the School Turnaround Research Alliance, researchers conducted empirical analyses of MDE’s current statistical approaches to identifying Beating the Odds schools.

REL Midwest researchers found that identification of Beating the Odds schools can vary because of decisions made in statistical approaches, and fewer than expected Michigan schools are being consistently identified as Beating the Odds schools in part because of those differences.

MDE’s knowledge of these findings has inspired the department to rethink its Beating the Odds identification policies. Because the different statistical approaches used may identify different schools as Beating the Odds schools, MDE is considering the practical implications for districts and schools that are misidentified. MDE also is considering how the sample used to identify Beating the Odds schools might be changed to improve the accuracy of its statistical approaches. With the help of REL Midwest, the School Turnaround Research Alliance is empowering MDE to improve its Beating the Odds initiative and continue recognizing the exceptional work of schools and districts in Michigan.

At the same time, members of the School Turnaround Research Alliance who work at MDE also are interested in learning more about possible instructional and organizational differences between Beating the Odds schools and demographically similar non–Beating the Odds schools. Knowing what sets Beating the Odds schools apart from other schools with similar demographic characteristics is important as state officials consider actions to sustain Beating the Odds school performance and improve the operations of low-performing schools statewide.

To further this work, REL Midwest is analyzing the results of a Beating the Odds survey administered to Beating the Odds schools and comparison schools. The analysis of survey results will enable the School Turnaround Research Alliance to identify differences between Beating the Odds schools and non–Beating the Odds schools. In particular, the survey will help the alliance identify the instructional and organizational practices that the research literature suggests are associated with Beating the Odds schools, including effective leadership, a challenging curriculum with a focus on literacy, significant professional development opportunities, a positive school culture, and ongoing data use to inform instructional decisions.

MDE, in collaboration with REL Midwest, is finding evidence-based ways to improve student achievement in schools across Michigan. Check our website, or follow us onTwitter , for further updates from the School Turnaround Research Alliance.

Making Connections: Building Partnerships for Improvement in Education

REL Midwest recently brought together experts in collaborative research from the William T. Grant Foundation, AIR, the Education Development Center, and Toledo Public Schools for the Making Connections public television event “Building Partnerships for Improvement in Education. ” Panelists discussed collaborative research approaches and their effect on education, highlighting the shifting dynamics between research and practice. They also covered current education initiatives that use collaborative partnerships to improve research, practice, and policy in the interest of schools, students, and communities at large.

Vivian Tseng, Ph.D., vice president of programs at the William T. Grant Foundation, kicked off the conversation with insights into the current gap between research and practice and the structures needed to build successful partnerships. It is not a simple process whereby research “facts” are passed from researchers to decision makers, according to Dr. Tseng. Researchers and practitioners need to build two-way streets that foster engagement, joint research agendas, and shared commitments. Dr. Tseng asserts that effective research-practice partnerships should ultimately build the capacity of researchers and districts to produce more useful work and translate these research findings into practical improvements in education.

The event also featured stories, recommendations, and takeaways from researchers and practitioners involved in collaborative partnerships. Panelists included Mindee O’Cummings, Ph.D., principal researcher at AIR, and Laurie Kruszynski, data coordinator at Scott High School of Toledo Public Schools, both from REL Midwest’sDropout Prevention Research Alliance. Dr. O’Cummings and Kruszynski shared their challenges and successes instituting trust, collaboration, and co-ownership to improve student outcomes in the district. Julie Riordan, Ph.D., director of research at REL Northeast and Islands, discussed how these partnerships affect the ongoing development of the researchers themselves. Carrie Scholz, Ph.D., senior researcher at AIR, examined how invested stakeholders beyond researchers and practitioners can play a role in collaborative partnerships, with specific examples at the local level.

Following the taping, the panelists answered questions from audience members in a large-group discussion and in an informal meet-and-greet session. WTTW Chicago Public Media will air the panel discussion and question-and-answer session onFebruary 20 at 7:00 p.m. Please visit the REL Midwest website to view the video archive after the broadcast.

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News, Events, and Activities

  • A new REL Midwest study, The Utility of Teacher and Student Surveys in Principal Evaluations: An Empirical Investigation, examined whether student and teacher surveys contribute relevant information on principal performance. Using data from one midsize urban district in the Midwest, REL Midwest investigated whether adding student and teacher survey measures to existing measures increased the power of a principal evaluation model to explain across-school variance in student achievement. The study found that two survey-based measures—classroom instructional environment and instructional leadership—contribute new information on the link between principals and student achievement. This information will help district superintendents, principals, and other district leaders understand the quality and utility of these surveys and make informed decisions on whether and how to include them in principal evaluations. The report also demonstrates a process for evaluating measures that are candidates for inclusion in evaluation models.
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Resources to Explore

  • Creating a Content Strategy for Mobile Devices in the Classroom, a new resource from the Center on Innovations in Learning , aims to help teachers, curriculum and technology specialists, and administrators answer the fundamental question of “Now what?” when mobile devices arrive at school.
  • To understand which students with disabilities are at greatest risk of leaving school without a diploma, REL West examined the rates at which Utah students with different types of disabilities moved to other schools, dropped out, or graduated compared with all students with disabilities and with general education students. As a group, Utah students with disabilities had poorer outcomes than their general education classmates, but outcomes varied by disability category. By examining this variation within the population of students with disabilities, this study can inform decisions about which students with disabilities most need interventions, suggest refinements to state and district data systems, and suggest areas in need of further research.School Mobility, Dropout, and Graduation Rates Across Student Disability Categories in Utah was released in November 2014.
  • Evaluation of Teacher Preparation Programs: Key Considerations and Methodological Issues, a recent REL Central webinar, provided an overview of efforts to evaluate teacher preparation programs. Presenters included Robert Floden, Ph.D., associate dean for research at Michigan State University, who drew from a recent National Academy of Education report, The Evaluation of Teacher Preparation Programs: Purposes, Methods, and Policy Options . The webinar is archived online.
  • A new report from REL Appalachia sheds light on online and distance learning in rural areas. Online and Distance Learning in Southwest Tennessee: Implementation and Challenges was intended to help district leaders from the Southwest Tennessee Rural Education Cooperative (SWTREC), a coalition of superintendents from 12 districts (half of which are rural) surrounding Memphis, gauge the supply and demand for online and distance learning courses in their region. The report includes the survey that was administered to SWTREC members, which may be adapted and used by coalitions of schools and districts interested in sharing access to online and distance learning courses with one another.
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Contact Us

For more information about any of the items in this newsletter or to speak with a member of our staff, please contact us by telephone (866-730-6735) or e-mail (relmidwest@air.org). We look forward to hearing from you.

REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
1120 East Diehl Road, Suite 200
Naperville, IL 60563-1486
866-730-6735
www.relmidwest.org

This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-12-C-0004 by Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, administered by American Institutes for Research. The content of the publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. This publication is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce in whole or in part for educational purposes is granted.
This email was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This email was sent by: American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007-3835 USA

We respect your right to privacy – view our policy

November 26, 2014

REL Midwest Virtual Education Research Alliance Webinar – Dec 4, 2:30-4pm CT

From yesterday’s inbox…

Hi everyone!

We wanted to share another webinar opportunity with you that is being hosted by the REL Midwest and its Virtual Education Research Alliance. Please see registration link and additional information about the webinar below.

Navigating the Challenges of Online Credit Recovery: Lessons from a Rigorous Research Study

Thursday, December 4, 2014
2:30 p.m.4:00 p.m. CT

Registration

Agenda

REL Midwest and its Virtual Education Research Alliance will host a webinar that will describe the findings from the first rigorous research study examining the effectiveness of online Algebra I for credit recovery, relative to standard face-to-face versions of the course for helping at-risk ninth-grade students get back on track toward graduation.

The event will feature a presentation by Jessica Heppen, Ph.D. and Kirk Walters, Ph.D. of American Institutes for Research who will describe the findings from the study, Efficacy of Online Credit Recovery in Algebra I for At-Risk Ninth Graders. The event will also feature a discussion from Michele Nickels of Wisconsin Virtual School and Cale Roe of Iowa Learning Online about the issues schools and educators should address when considering the use of online courses for credit recovery. This event is designed to address the U.S. Department of Education’s priority areas of effective teachers and principals; and college readiness, access, and completion.

Presenters
Pamela Jacobs, Ph.D., Senior Technical Assistance Consultant, American Institutes of Research
Peggy Clements, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, Education Development Center
Jessica Heppen, Ph.D., Managing Researcher, American Institutes of Research
Kirk Walters, Ph.D., Principal Researcher, American Institutes of Research
Michele Nickels, Director, Wisconsin Virtual School
Cale Roe, Student Services Consultant, Iowa Learning Online

http://registration.airprojects.org/RELMakingConnections/register.aspx

Hope to see you there!

Thanks, and enjoy your day!

MVLRI Team

Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute
MVLRI@mivu.org
http://www.mvlri.org
Facebook: /mvlrinstitute
Twitter: @MVLRI_MVU
Blog: http://www.mvlri.org/Blog
Webinar Series: http://www.mvlri.org/Presentations/Webinars

January 18, 2014

REL Research Update Newsletter Winter 2013-2014

From Wednesday’s inbox…

To view this email as a web page, go here.

Midwest Regional Educational Laboratory at American Institutes for Research

Research Update
Newsletter

Winter 2013-2014
Vol. 2, No. 7

Preschooler helping friendWelcome

REL Midwest is one of 10 regional educational laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and is administered by American Institutes for Research (AIR). Each edition of REL Midwest’s Research Update brings you news of how our scope of work is unfolding in your state and across the region, offers information about resources available from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Program and other research and technical assistance providers, and highlights important topics within education research. In this issue, we announce our latest resource and invite you to join us in taking a look back at 2013.

IN THIS ISSUE

Our Work
New Online Resource Helps Users Analyze Data

2013: A Year in Review

News, Events, and Activities
Learn about people, organizations, and issues in the region.

Resources to Explore

Contact Us
REL Midwest
1120 East Diehl Road
Suite 200
Naperville, IL 60563-1486
866-730-6735
www.relmidwest.org
Follow REL Midwest on Twitter.

Our Work

New Online Resource Helps Users Analyze Data

REL Midwest announces EdMaps, a new Web-mapping application that displays educational data geographically as “story maps.” EdMaps helps users analyze publicly available school- and district-level data, observe trends over time, and frame conversations on practice and policy. EdMaps debuted with initial story maps on graduation rates and poverty levels, addressing two priority areas in the Midwest—college and career readiness and low-performing schools and school improvement. In development are story maps related to early childhood education and educator effectiveness. How has poverty changed in the Midwest region since 2000? Visit EdMaps to learn more.

2013: A Year in Review

REL Midwest had an exciting year. Our work remained focused on the four regional priority areas identified in the first year of our five-year contract: (1) college and career success, (2) early childhood education, (3) educator effectiveness, and (4) low-performing schools and school improvement. The research alliances, also formed last year around these four priority areas, continued to refine and prioritize their research agendas. The result has been a portfolio of projects offering analytic technical assistance and research, as well as targeted dissemination activities focused on making connections between research and policy/practice for education stakeholders.

During the past two years, REL Midwest proposed more than 30 analytic technical assistance and research and evaluation projects across nine research alliances. In Indiana, for instance, REL Midwest researchers and members of the Rural Research Alliance are using geographic information system mapping and statistical analysis to examine the differences in college enrollment between rural and nonrural students in the state. The project aims to assist the efforts of the Rural Research Alliance and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education in improving access to postsecondary education by exploring the patterns of college enrollment and completion for rural students, whose potential paths and barriers to college are not adequately understood.

Other research projects under way include the following:

  • A study of Michigan’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for early childhood education that will help stakeholders understand how changes to the calculation system in a QRIS may affect the number of programs rated at each quality level.
  • A study of online course use in Iowa and Wisconsin that will help virtual school leaders understand the landscape of virtual education in their states, particularly how schools are choosing to allocate resources for online learning.
  • An examination of a comprehensive college-readiness program and the extent to which schools are implementing this program with fidelity.
  • A study in a midsize urban district exploring whether adding student and teacher survey measures to an existing principal evaluation model increases the overall power of the model to predict schoolwide achievement gains in reading and mathematics.

At the same time, REL Midwest’s analytic technical assistance services helped to build constituents’ knowledge and capacity for using data and inform the development of future research projects such as those listed above. For example, REL staff developed a workshop for stakeholders in two states to better learn survey methodologies related to education research and research-informed decision making.

Dissemination and outreach activities complemented REL Midwest’s research and analytic technical assistance throughout 2013. Through in-person conferences, public television events, social networking, and online webinars, REL Midwest helps make important connections between research and practice.

Highlights from the year’s dissemination activities include the following:

REL Midwest’s outreach and needs assessment remain focused on using a variety of formal and informal needs-sensing activities to identify where REL Midwest staff can best support the seven Midwestern states in using data and research evidence to enhance education policies and practices. Our state liaisons listed below are available to provide stakeholders additional information about any of our projects and events or to discuss a state-specific issue.

It was a busy and productive year at REL Midwest. We appreciate the opportunity to be of service, and we offer special thanks to members of the REL Midwest Governing Board for their commitment and guidance.

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News, Events, and Activities

  • REL Midwest recently received approval from IES of its proposed 2014 scope of work with research, technical assistance, and dissemination projects and activities that build on the accomplishments of Years 1 and 2.
  • From program selection to strategic planning, states and school districts are using school climate data for a variety of purposes. REL Midwest presented a webinar on December 17, 2013, on the topic of using school climate data to improve student outcomes. Adam Voight, a researcher at WestEd and author of A Climate for Student Success, presented his work on how school climate distinguishes schools that “beat the odds.” Panelists discussed how they are collecting and using school climate data through their participation in the Safe and Supportive Schools grant program. The webinar will be available online in late January 2014.
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Resources to Explore

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Contact Us

For more information about any of the items in this newsletter or to speak with a member of our staff, please contact us by telephone (866-730-6735) or e-mail (relmidwest@air.org). We look forward to hearing from you.

REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
1120 East Diehl Road, Suite 200
Naperville, IL 60563-1486
866-730-6735
www.relmidwest.org

This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-12-C-0004 by Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, administered by American Institutes for Research. The content of the publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. This publication is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce in whole or in part for educational purposes is granted.
This email was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This email was sent by: American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007-3835 USA

We respect your right to privacy – view our policy

November 26, 2013

REL Midwest Webinar Reminder: “Training Preservice Teachers to Teach Online”

From yesterday’s inbox…

To view this email as a web page, go here.

Webinar Reminder: Don’t Forget to Complete the Feedback Survey

Thank you for attending “Making Connections: Training Preservice Teachers to Teach Online.”

Please remember to complete the event feedback survey at http://survey.airprojects.org/RELStakeholderFeedbackTrainingPreserviceTeachers.

An archive of the event, as well as resources and materials will be posted soon at http://www.relmidwest.org/events.

Please visit our events page for a list of our upcoming events and details on how to register.

If you have questions, please contact Bri Martin (312-283-2302 or bmartin@air.org).

 

This email was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This email was sent by: American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007-3835 USA

We respect your right to privacy – view our policy

November 20, 2013

REL Midwest Webinar TODAY: “Training Preservice Teachers to Teach Online”

A reminder of this event today…

To view this email as a web page, go here.

Webinar Reminder: TODAY

Making Connections: Training Preservice Teachers to Teach Online
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
1:30-3:00 p.m. (Central Time)

Thank you for registering for “Making Connections: Training Preservice Teachers to Teach Online.”

Please use the following link and conference line to access the webinar:
http://edc.adobeconnect.com/relmwbridge112013
1-888-803-6395

Please visit the event page for more details: http://www.relmidwest.org/events/teaching-preservice-teachers-teach-online-webinar

Access will be available starting 15 minutes prior to the event.

This webinar will be held in Adobe Connect Virtual Conference Center and requires:

  • A computer with an Internet connection (preferably through an ethernet cable), and
  • Computer headphones or speakers, OR
  • A telephone or speakerphone

Approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of the webinar, follow these steps:

1. Adobe Connect Set-Up:

  • Go to: http://edc.adobeconnect.com/relmwbridge112013

  • Select Enter as Guest, please type your full name in the text box, and click Enter Room. You may receive a dialogue box Adobe Connect Add-in asking you to install the Adobe Connect Add-In now. Click Yes.

This may take a moment or two. When completed, a new window will open.

  • Updates: Adobe Connect has recently updated its operating system. Please be sure you have Flash Player 11.2 or greater and a new add-in.

2. Audio Set-Up:

After you have logged in to the Adobe Connect platform, the audio for the session will stream through your computer speakers or headphones.

If you do not have speakers or headphones, or if you are participating through wireless Internet access, you may call the number shown on Adobe Connect to join the audio conference.

Having Trouble?

To optimize your viewing experience, test your connections before this webinar at https://admin.acrobat.com/common/help/en/support/meeting_test.htm.

If you experience difficulty logging in the day of the event, e-mail relneiinfo@edc.org with a brief description of the problem. Someone will get back to you.

We look forward to your participation!

NOTE: All webinars are recorded and capture audio, documents, chat comments, and other materials exchanged or viewed during the session. By joining this session, you automatically consent to such recordings. If you do not consent to the recording, please do not join the session.

If you have questions or if your attendance plans change, please contact Bri Martin (312- 283-2302 or bmartin@air.org) or Erin Stafford (estafford@edc.org or 312-888-3675).

This email was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This email was sent by: American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007-3835 USA

We respect your right to privacy – view our policy

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