Virtual School Meanderings

December 13, 2017

November REL Northwest E-News

Another newsletter from earlier in the week.

Latest news and research from REL Northwest
REL Northwest

New video: Classroom strategies for reducing students’ math anxiety

Math anxiety affects day-to-day math performance and can even prevent students from pursuing certain career paths. Fortunately, educators can help stop math anxiety from spreading. This REL Northwest video, developed in partnership with Washington STEM, demonstrates two evidence-based strategies for reducing elementary school students’ math anxiety.

Classroom strategies for reducing students’ math anxiety

Webinars: Learn about successful virtual and in-person college advising programs and rural educator networks

Couldn’t attend our October webinars? The recordings are available now on the REL Northwest website.

Increasing First-Generation Students’ College Success Through Virtual and In-Person Individualized Advising and Support describes research related to—and practical strategies for—helping underrepresented students earn a degree. Experts share how the Dell Scholars Program’s virtual support model and Portland Community College’s Future Connect in-person coaching services have contributed to rising completion rates for many low-income and first-generation college students.

Improving Outcomes for Students in Rural Areas: The Promise and Challenge of Educator Networks explores the successes and challenges of the Northwest Rural Innovation and Student Engagement Network, the Vermont Rural Partnership, and the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative. Network leaders and members discuss promoting cross-district collaboration through job-alike groups, student engagement through place-based learning, and college and career preparation through personalized learning pathways.

On our blog: Lessons learned from a successful research-practice partnership

What can researchers and practitioners accomplish when they work together? In this blog post, Vicki Nishioka reflects on five years of collaboration between REL Northwest and the Oregon Leadership Network alliance. She also discusses the positive impact the partnership has had on student discipline practice and policy in Oregon and offers six key takeaways.

REL Northwest research contributes to change in law

To decrease the number of community college students being placed in developmental courses, a new California law requires colleges to use high school performance rather than test scores in course-placement decisions. In an October 19 article in The Journal, REL Northwest’s study that found high school GPA to be a better predictor of college readiness than college entrance exam scores was cited as informing lawmakers’ decision to enact the new legislation.

Ask-A-REL question of the month

What does the research say about collective teacher efficacy?

The REL Northwest Ask-A-REL librarian recently searched the research literature on this topic and compiled a list of recent, publicly available references and resources.

Do you have a research question? Contact Jennifer Klump for free, customized responses.

Copyright © 2017 Education Northwest, All rights reserved.

You are receiving this email because you are a member or stakeholder of a REL Northwest research collaborative or alliance or signed up to receive these messages.

This newsletter was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0009 by Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest, administered by Education Northwest. The content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of 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.

Education Northwest

Coming Together With CTE

From the Florida Virtual folks.

Catch up on our latest updates!

Coming Together with CTE

It is hard to imagine anything good coming from the devastating winds and rain of Hurricane Irma or similar storms that ravaged homes and communities this past hurricane season. If you look hard enough, though, you can find unexpected positives even in the worst experiences. As a member of the Florida Army National Guard, I […]

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Article Notice: Describing K-12 Online Teachers’ Online Professional Development Opportunities For Students With Disabilities

In yesterday’s entry [OLJ] New Online Learning Journal Issue Published, there was one K-12 focused article that I wanted to highlight today.

Describing K-12 online teachers’ online professional development opportunities for students with disabilities

Mary Frances Rice



Online teacher professional development (oTPD) researchers have been concerned with design features, teacher change in practice, and student learning, as well as establishing guidelines for directing funding support. Even so, previous work suggests that high-quality instructional support for all SWD is still on the horizon. As a response to the need for better instruction, professional development for SWD has emerged in all settings, including teachers who are not just receiving oTPD, but who are online teachers themselves. The purpose of this study was to use online teachers’ descriptions of their oTPD for SWD to learn about the professional learning opportunities available to teachers around serving SWD and their families. Teachers and administrators from various online/virtual learning schools around the country participated in this study. Even though teachers had SWD in their courses and were directly responsible for SWD, most teachers and administrators described few professional development opportunities for learning to teach SWD in the online learning environment beyond giving and receiving information about legal compliance. However, there was some evidence that some teachers in some schools were supported in forming informal collaborative communities with the potential for developing promising practices for these students.


students with disabilities, online teacher professional development, administrator and teacher perspectives

Full Text:



Beach, P., & Willows, D. (2014). Investigating teachers’ exploration of a professional development website: An innovative approach to understanding the factors that motivate teachers to use Internet-based resources/Investigation de l’exploration par les enseignants d’un site Web. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology/La revue canadienne de l’apprentissage et de la technologie, 40(3). Retrieved from

Beach, P., & Willows, D. (2017). Understanding teachers’ cognitive processes during online professional learning: A methodological comparison. Online Learning, 21(1), 60-84.

Berliner, D. C. (2000). A personal response to those who bash teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 51(5), 358-371.

Billingsley, B. S., & McLeskey, J. (2014). What are the roles of principals in inclusive schools? Handbook of Effective Inclusive Schools: Research and Practice, 67.

Brown, J. L. (2012). Online learning: A comparison of web-based and land-based courses. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 13(1), 39.

Brunsting, N. C., Sreckovic, M. A., & Lane, K. L. (2014). Special education teacher burnout: A synthesis of research from 1979 to 2013. Education and Treatment of Children, 37(4), 681-711.

Burdette, P. J., & Greer, D. L. (2014). Online learning and students with disabilities: Parent perspectives. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 13(2), 67-88.

Butler, D. L., Lauscher, H. N., Jarvis-Selinger, S., & Beckingham, B. (2004). Collaboration and self-regulation in teachers’ professional development. Teaching and teacher education, 20(5), 435-455.

Butler, R. (2007). Teachers’ achievement goal orientations and associations with teachers’ help seeking: Examination of a novel approach to teacher motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(2), 241.

Brownell, M. T., Sindelar, P. T., Kiely, M. T., & Danielson, L. C. (2010). Special education teacher quality and preparation: Exposing foundations, constructing a new model. Exceptional Children, 76(3), 357-377.

Charalambousa, K., & Ioannou, I. (2011). The attitudes and opinions of Cypriot primary teachers about the use of the Internet for their professional development and as an educational tool. Learning, Media and Technology, 33(1), 45-57.

Cochran-Smith, M., & Dudley-Marling, C. (2012). Diversity in teacher education and special education: The issues that divide. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(4), 237-244.

Cochran-Smith, M., & Zeichner, K. M. (Eds.). (2009). Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Cook, B. G., & Odom, S. L. (2013). Evidence-based practices and implementation science in special education. Exceptional Children, 79(2), 135-144.

Crockett, J. B., Billingsley, B., & Boscardin, M. L. (2012). Handbook of leadership and administration for special education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Darling-Hammond, L. (1998). Teacher learning that supports student learning. Educational Leadership, 5(5), 91-100.

Dede, C., Ketelhut, D., Whitehouse, P., Breit, L., & McCloskey, E. M. (2009). A research agenda for online teacher professional development. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(1), 8-19.

Feng, L., & Sass, T. R. (2013). What makes special-education teachers special? Teacher training and achievement of students with disabilities. Economics of Education Review, 36, 122-

Freidhoff, J. R. (2015). Michigan’s K-12 virtual learning effectiveness report 2013-14. Lansing, MI: Michigan Virtual University. Retrieved from tute/pdf/er_2014.pdf

Garrison, D. R. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 61–72.

Giangreco, M. F., Edelman, S. W., Broer, S. M., & Doyle, M. B. (2001). Paraprofessional support of students with disabilities: Literature from the past decade. Exceptional Children, 68(1), 45-63.

Giangreco, M. F., Carter, E., Doyle, M. B., & Suter, J. C. (2010). Supporting students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms. Confronting obstacles to inclusion: international responses to developing inclusive education. London: Routledge, 247-264.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 (2004).

Kanuka, H., & Nocente, N. (2003). Exploring the effects of personality type on perceived satisfaction with web-based learning in continuing professional development. Distance Education, 24(2), 227-244.

Kao, C. P., Wu, Y. T., & Tsai, C. C. (2011). Elementary school teachers’ motivation toward web-based professional development, and the relationship with Internet self-efficacy and belief about web-based learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(2), 406-415.

Lawless, K. A., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2007). Professional development in integrating technology into teaching and learning: Knowns, unknowns, and ways to pursue better questions and answers. Review of Educational Research, 77(4), 575-614.

Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2014). Designing qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Mayer, R. E., & Moreno, R. (2002). Aids to computer-based multimedia learning. Learning and instruction, 12(1), 107-119.

McConnell, T. J., Parker, J. M., Eberhardt, J., Koehler, M. J., & Lundeberg, M. A. (2013). Virtual professional learning communities: Teachers’ perceptions of virtual versus face-to-face professional development. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 22(3), 267-277.

Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M., & Saldaña, J. (2013). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Pazey, B. L., & Cole, H. A. (2013). The role of special education training in the development of socially just leaders building an equity consciousness in educational leadership programs. Educational Administration Quarterly, 49(2), 243-271.

Sánchez-Algarra, P., & Anguera, M. T. (2013). Qualitative/quantitative integration in the inductive observational study of interactive behaviour: impact of recording and coding among predominating perspectives. Quality & Quantity, 47(2), 1237-1257.

Siciliano, M. D. (2016). It’s the quality not the quantity of ties that matters: Social networks and self-efficacy beliefs. American Educational Research Journal, 53(2), 227-262.

Soine, K. M., & Lumpe, A. (2014). Measuring characteristics of teacher professional development. Teacher Development, 18(3), 303-333.

Sugar, W., & van Tryon, P. J. S. (2014). Development of a virtual technology coach to support technology integration for K-12 educators. TechTrends, 58(3), 54-62.

Theoharis, G., & Causton, J. (2014). Leading inclusive reform for students with disabilities: A school-and systemwide approach. Theory Into Practice, 53(2), 82-97.

Thomas, J. (2015). Resource students use of Internet reading strategies in an online inquiry project. In M. Rice (Ed.). Exploring pedagogies for diverse learners online (pp. 25-65). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.

Vu, P., Cao, V., Vu, L., & Cepero, J. (2014). Factors driving learner success in online professional development. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(3). Retrieved from

Weschke, B., & Barclay, R. (2011). Online teacher education: Exploring the impact of a reading and literacy program on student learning. Online Learning, 15(2), 22-43.

Wilhelm, A. G., Chen, I. C., Smith, T. M., & Frank, K. A. (2016). Selecting expertise in context middle school mathematics teachers’ selection of new sources of instructional advice. American Educational Research Journal, 53(3), 456-491.

DOI: Free e-Newsletter – 12/12/17

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News From The NEPC: New Initiative From Gates Has The Potential To Avoid Past Mistakes

Note this sense of optimism from the NEPC.

Approach can be fine-tuned to close opportunity gaps in collaboration with authentic community voices.
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New Initiative from Gates Has the Potential to Avoid Past Mistakes

Key Takeaway: Approach can be fine-tuned to close opportunity gaps in collaboration with authentic community voices.


BOULDER, CO (December 12, 2017) – In Might the New Gates Education Initiative Close Opportunity Gaps?, Professor Kevin Welner of the University of Colorado Boulder considers the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s newest effort, called “Networks for School Improvement.” Welner, who is Director of the National Education Policy Center, examines how this initiative can learn from the Foundation’s own past initiatives as well as from research evidence more generally.

Bill Gates announced the new investment strategy in mid-October; the Gates Foundation then solicited ideas about how groups of secondary schools can work with intermediary organizations to improve those schools and boost student outcomes. The idea is for the intermediaries and schools to create support networks working toward solutions to common problems.

“These networks have a beneficial potential,” said Professor Welner, “but their benefits will be limited unless past lessons are taken into account.” The policy memo focuses in particular on three foundational lessons from research: the need to create school systems that are supportive of equitable reform, the need to focus on closing opportunity gaps, and the need for reforms to be grounded in the authentic voices of parents, organizers, students and teachers in the impacted communities.

Welner also points to four mistakes that the Gates Foundation has repeated in its earlier K-12 reform initiatives: (a) reliance on approaches that are too top-down, (b) excessive faith in choice and markets, (c) similarly excessive faith in technology and data, and (d) insufficient attention to outside-school obstacles to students’ opportunities to learn. The policy memo finds reasons to believe that the new initiative will avoid at least some of these pitfalls, but Welner also sees some red flags.

“Human progress is not a straight line,” he concludes. “But we can learn from the past and plan for success.”

Find Might the New Gates Education Initiative Close Opportunity Gaps?, by Kevin Welner, on the web at:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at:

Copyright © 2017 National Education Policy Center. All rights reserved.
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