Virtual School Meanderings

March 2, 2013

REL Research Update Newsletter February 2013

From Thursday’s inbox…

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Midwest Regional Educational Laboratory at American Institutes for Research

Research Update

February 2013
Vol. 2, No. 2

Computer class teacher helping studentsWelcomeREL 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 and offers information about resources available from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Program and other research and technical assistance providers. Research alliances figure prominently in REL work, and REL Midwest has 10 of them that drive our activities in research, evaluation, technical assistance, and dissemination. This month, we introduce you to our Teacher Effectiveness Research Alliance.
Meet our Teacher Effectiveness Research Alliance.

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

Our WorkTeacher Effectiveness Research Alliance

With a state-specific focus, the Teacher Effectiveness Research Alliance provides Minnesota with research and technical assistance to evaluate and scale up effective teaching practices in the state. AIR Senior Researcher Jim Lindsay, Ph.D., leads the work of the alliance whose members include:

  • Karen Balmer, Executive Director, Minnesota Board of Teaching
  • Rose Chu, Ph.D., Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Steve Dibb, Director, School Support Division, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Erin Doan, Researcher, Educator Licensing, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Greg Keith, Evaluation Specialist, Office of Innovation, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Richard Wassen, Director of Educator Licensing, Minnesota Department of Education

In 2012, alliance members requested REL Midwest’s technical assistance in redesigning their existing teacher supply-and-demand study to address additional policy-relevant research questions. State education agencies (SEAs) conduct supply-and-demand studies to help ensure adequate staffing in terms of subject areas, grade levels, and other considerations. REL Midwest researchers conducted a search of literature relevant to the topics that alliance members and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) wanted to examine. REL Midwest researchers also conducted a gap analysis to determine whether sufficient data already existed to address the research questions or whether additional data collection would be necessary. These efforts resulted in a description of methodologies from which MDE can choose for its supply-and-demand study.

Alliance members also reported a dearth of information about the mobility of teachers within Minnesota and between the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Iowa. Mobility can be costly to both states and districts. It hampers state initiatives to create equitable distributions of educators in districts and it harms districts that educators leave because of the substantial expenses associated with staff recruitment and placement. The SEAs in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin are interested in examining the state policies related to educator mobility across states (e.g., licensing, pension benefits) and school-related factors that may be related to mobility. REL Midwest—in partnership with Michael Podgursky, Ph.D., at the University of Missouri and alliance members—is planning a two-year study that examines states’ policies related to mobility and patterns of intrastate and interstate educator mobility. REL Midwest will submit the full study proposal to IES soon for review and approval.

For more information about the alliance, contact Dr. Lindsay at

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News, Events, and Activities

  • REL Midwest welcomes Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz to its board of directors. Ms. Ritz was elected to Indiana’s chief education post in November 2012 and assumed the post in January 2013.
  • Plans are under way for a public television event on school improvement in Cleveland, Ohio. The event is scheduled for April 15, 2013, and will be held in collaboration with WVIZ/PBS ideastream. Details will available in mid-March on the REL Midwest website.
  • Take time to view the archived 2012 REL Midwest webinar on evaluating teachers of untested subjects. Lisa Lachlan-Haché, Ed.D., of the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality discussed research, emerging field practices, and her experiences in supporting states and districts in developing teacher evaluation systems. Also featured was a conversation among school district representatives from around the country that have implemented systems for evaluating teachers of untested subjects.
  • “Connect-Inform-Advance: Promoting Academic Success of Rural Students,” the 2013 national conference on rural education hosted by the National Center for Research on Rural Education (R²Ed), will be held April 3–4, 2013, in Omaha, Nebraska. The event will feature research presentations and moderated panel responses, each including representatives from the research, practice, and policy communities. Nebraska Commissioner of Education Roger Breed, Ed.D., and Cindy McIntee, J.D., past president of the National Rural Education Association, will deliver keynote addresses. Visit the R²Ed website for details.
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Resources to Explore

The U.S. Department of Education, federally funded technical assistance providers, and other organizations offer information on a variety of topics, including educator effectiveness. Check out the following resources:

  • The Center on Great Teachers and Leaders (GTL Center) continues the work of the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality (TQ Center). A Practical Guide to Designing Comprehensive Teacher Evaluation Systems is just one of many resources available on the GTL Center website.
  • A 2012 U.S. Department of Education report entitled Providing Effective Teachers for All Students: Examples From Five Districts addresses three questions: 1) How did the districts identify effective teachers and what were some of the challenges associated with the measures that the districts used? 2) How did the districts use information about teachers’ effectiveness in human resource policies? 3) How did the districts use information about teachers’ effectiveness in their efforts to make the distribution of effective teachers more equitable? Included among the five study districts was Columbus City Schools in Ohio.
  • The IES-funded National Center for Teacher Effectiveness (NCTE) seeks to join together existing strands of teacher-effectiveness research in the quest for a valid, scalable measure of teacher effectiveness. The NCTE website includes publications developed by NCTE researchers for policymakers, educators, and other researchers.
  • Among the featured resources for teachers and leaders on the website of Public Impact is the slide deck from a presentation entitled How Should States Define Teacher Effectiveness? This presentation discusses basing the definition of teacher effectiveness on student learning outcomes and behaviors linked to those outcomes, and using rigorous research about top teachers to determine what behaviors to include in the definition.
  • The Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, a three-year study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation involving six school districts and 3,000 teachers, sought to build and test measures of effective teaching. Publications and project reports, including the final research report released in January 2013, are available on the MET project website.
  • REL Midwest and the Indiana University School Administrators Association cohosted a 2012 conference focused on teacher effectiveness and evaluation. Laura Goe., Ph.D., of ETS discussed her research on evaluating teacher effectiveness and her experience supporting states, teachers’ unions, and regional comprehensive centers in considering different approaches to teacher evaluation. Dr. Goe’s presentation and other meeting materials are available in the REL Midwest event archive.
  • Follow REL Midwest on Twitter.
  • Ask a REL is a collaborative reference desk service designed to function in much the same way as a technical reference library. Following established search protocols, our researchers provide timely responses to your questions in the form of referrals and references. Submit your question online today.
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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 by e-mail ( We look forward to hearing from you.

REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
1120 East Diehl Road, Suite 200
Naperville, IL 60563-1486

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.

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