Virtual School Meanderings

November 22, 2017

Building A Strong Foundation For 2018 And Beyond

Also from yesterday’s inbox…

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REL Midwest Research Update
 
Chad DuhonMessage from the deputy director
At Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest, we’re using the final months of 2017 as an opportunity to take stock of our completed projects, continue progress on our current commitments, and develop new connections and work for 2018 and beyond.

In this newsletter, you’ll find some examples of our recent work, including a preview of resources being developed in partnership with the Midwest Achievement Gap Research Alliance on closing the Black-White achievement gap in Wisconsin and information on various engagement activities that highlight our work throughout the region.

Currently, we are engaged in a number of training and coaching initiatives, including a coaching project on continuous improvement cycles in Iowa and a two-part training exploring the potential for clinically oriented teacher preparation programs in Michigan. Through our Ask A REL service, we compile relevant research to answer questions posed by educators and policymakers. In addition, we continue to work on several applied research projects, such as a study of postsecondary pathways in Minnesota, designed to answer stakeholders’ questions identified in research agenda-setting discussions.

Finally, we also are looking forward to new opportunities to serve our stakeholders in 2018. In some cases, we aim to build off prior work in our partnerships and collaborations. In other cases, we will identify emerging needs in the region and design approaches to best fill those gaps.

If there are ways in which we can better communicate our work and meet your needs, please be sure to let us know.—Chad Duhon, deputy director

 


Top 7 facts about REL Midwest in 2017
For a by-the-numbers overview of the year, check out these top facts you should know about REL Midwest’s work in 2017.

Read more  Read more

 


A year of work toward closing the achievement gap
The Midwest Achievement Gap Research Alliance has had a busy first year of work, including producing an environmental scan, a literature review, and an in-person event.

Read more  Read more

 


Sharing RELevant research: The Ask A REL reference desk
Looking for education research? Learn how our Ask A REL reference desk can help you find relevant research in a snap.

Read more  Read more

 


Education research resource roundup
In case you missed them, we compiled a list of REL Midwest reports and other resources that were published in 2017.

Read more  Read more

 

 
Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
about any of the items in this newsletter
or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.
REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
10 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60606

                        

 
This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007 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 e-mail was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This e-mail 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 3, 2017

Responding To Your Pressing Research And Training Needs

Another REL newsletter to finish off the day.

To view this email as a web page, go here.
REL Midwest Research Update
 
Message from the collaboration and coordination lead
REL Midwest’s research alliances and networked improvement communityare focusing their efforts on early childhood, the Black-White achievement gap, career readiness, technology, and teacher preparation. Although their work is relevant to countless local, regional, and national conversations, many educators and policymakers in the Midwest have unique, pressing needs that do not necessarily align with the scope of our current partnerships’ work.

Therefore, REL Midwest is forming other collaborations with districts, states, and other education stakeholders to respond to their immediate research and training needs. For example, we currently have collaborations with state education agency staff in Wisconsin and Ohio to build research capacity and foster sustainable strategic planning. In Indiana, we are working with the state’s Management Performance Hub—a group formed by the legislature—to identify predictors of early college success at the K–12 level using the state longitudinal data system. With the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, we facilitated a research agenda-setting workshop focused on addressing the needs of English learner students. And many new collaborations are forming across the region as this newsletter goes to press.

REL Midwest’s state liaisons are visiting education organizations across the region to identify opportunities for other collaborations. If you have an immediate research or training need, please contact your state liaison so she may determine how best to support your request.

We look forward to the many collaborations to come!—Carrie Scholz, collaboration and coordination lead

 


Collaborating for English learner student success in Cleveland
REL Midwest and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District are collaborating to study the district’s Multilingual Multicultural Education Program and its quickly growing population of English learner students.

Read more  Read more

 


Policymaking in Indiana benefits from cross-agency data collaboration
The Indiana Network of Knowledge (INK), part of the state’s Management Performance Hub, develops structures, rules, and processes for the state’s longitudinal data system. Using data from this system, REL Midwest partnered with INK to explore the relationship between financial aid and early college success for disadvantaged students.

Read more  Read more

 


Research methods workshop series: Building Wisconsin educators’ research capacity
Educators rely on data and research evidence to understand what works. Learn how the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is partnering with REL Midwest on a workshop series to build educators’ capacity to conduct, understand, and apply research.

Read more  Read more

 


State liaisons available to discuss new REL Midwest collaboration opportunities
REL Midwest’s state liaisons work to make sure that stakeholders who are not currently involved in our collaborative research partnerships can take advantage of our free research, coaching, training, and technical support. If you are interested in pursuing a pressing research or training collaboration such as those outlined previously, our state liaisons can help.

 


New video: What is REL Midwest?
Check out our new video to learn all about what we do. REL Midwest conducts applied research and provides technical assistance to help our partners meet their goals and improve education for all students.

Watch and share here  Read more

 

 
Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
about any of the items in this newsletter
or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.
REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
10 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60606

                        

 
This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007 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 e-mail was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This e-mail 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

October 5, 2017

Toward Technology-Infused, Transformative Teaching In Iowa

From Monday’s inbox…

To view this email as a web page, go here.
REL Midwest Research Update
Message from the partnership facilitator and research liaisons
Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest is working with the Central Rivers Area Education Agency (AEA) in north-central Iowa to develop and facilitate a networked improvement community (NIC) focused on improving the fidelity and rigor of integration of learning technologies to support classroom instruction. A NIC brings together stakeholders to solve a problem of practice using rapid continuous improvement cycles (Plan-Do-Study-Act). Using this approach, the NIC studies the effects of small-scale interventions that focus on a single aspect of the defined problem.In conjunction with the REL Midwest team, the Central Rivers AEA worked to unpack data and narrative observations around how teachers were, and were not, using technology in classrooms. With several one-to-one districts and schools (i.e., one computing device for every student) across the AEA, and many technology resources, the group of leaders from Central Rivers sought to explore why most technology integration merely featured an app or a device substituting a part of a lesson or activity that previously would have been done with analog, or non-digital, resources. They wanted to figure out a way to get more teachers to redefine instruction and teach in a way previously inconceivable without the infusion of innovative technology.

In spring 2017, the REL Midwest team facilitated a root-cause analysis to unpack this problem. Through that structured exercise, the NIC landed on two root causes: (1) the vision and expectations for technology integration across the AEA are not clearly articulated to practitioners, and (2) educators lack sufficient capacity-building opportunities to develop expertise in technology-infused, transformative teaching.

At a face-to-face convening in September 2017, the NIC developed a theory of action around one of the root causes that will drive the development of interventions and research methods and instruments to study the effects of that intervention. Following that, the NIC will kick off its first Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle in which practitioners will employ the intervention in schools, collect data, and work with the REL Midwest team to analyze the data and make decisions about what to do next.

The timing of this NIC is advantageous for many reasons, not the least of which is its alignment to current efforts in Iowa to develop a statewide digital learning plan. The Iowa Department of Education and several AEAs are articulating the state’s vision for how the recommendations and ideas presented in the U.S. Department of Education’s 2016 National Educational Technology Plan can be put into action in Iowa.

We look forward to the work ahead and invite you to learn more about the NIC, continuous improvement research, and the use of education technology in Iowa. —Tori Cirks, partnership facilitator, and Marshal Conley and Jonathan Margolin, research liaisons

 


A partner in continuous improvement: Central Rivers Area Education Agency
Iowa’s AEAs work to ensure the provision of equitable and high-quality education services across the state. Learn more about these agencies and the role of the Central Rivers AEA in the Iowa NIC.Read more  Read more

 


Upcoming documentary connects the research on education technology to stories from Iowa
REL Midwest has been working with Iowa Public Television to produce a short, documentary-style program on the research on education technology, highlighting examples from Iowa schools. This article previews what the upcoming program will cover.Read more  Read more

 


Meet the NIC member: Michelle Cowell
Michelle Cowell is an instructional technology consultant for the Central Rivers AEA in Iowa. Cowell tells us how she anticipates the work of the Iowa NIC will complement the AEA’s efforts to improve technology integration in rural districts.Read more  Read more

 


Collaboration for success: Networked improvement communities
Did you know REL Midwest has previous experience with NICs and continuous improvement research? Read this article to learn about past work that informs our approach to the Iowa NIC.Read more  Read more

 


Education technology and continuous improvement resources and events
A number of high-quality resources related to continuous improvement and education technology are available online. We curated the following resources, including several from REL Midwest.Read more  Read more

 

Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
about any of the items in this newsletter
or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.
REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
10 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60606                        
This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007 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 e-mail was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This e-mail 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

August 30, 2017

Career Readiness At The Forefront In Minnesota

From yesterday’s inbox…

To view this email as a web page, go here.
REL Midwest Research Update
Message from the partnership facilitator and research liaison
Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to establish the Midwest Career Readiness Research Alliance (MCRRA). Over five years, MCRRA will undertake collaborative and systematic inquiry into the career readiness and postsecondary pathways of Minnesota public high school students, with a focus on uncovering and understanding opportunity gaps experienced by students in rural districts, including American Indian students.

In addition to representatives from MDE, the alliance includes representatives from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and three rural Minnesota school districts: Kelliher Public Schools, Onamia Public Schools, and Worthington Public School District. These stakeholders play a key role in the development of MCRRA’s research agenda as well as serve as critical partners on two projects. The first project involves a synthesis of districts’ World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) plans. The synthesis will be used to inform the development of resources that MDE will use to enhance the capacity of districts to implement their WBWF plans, particularly with respect to strengthening their college and career readiness strategies. The second project will draw on Minnesota’s statewide longitudinal education data system to study the postsecondary pathways taken by Minnesota high school graduates, with a specific focus on uncovering opportunity gaps. Findings from this study will inform Minnesota’s ongoing efforts to improve college and career readiness and close opportunity gaps.

We hope you enjoy learning more about MCRRA in the following articles and resources.—Jenny Scala, partnership facilitator, and Amy Feygin, research liaison

 


Webinar recap: Preparing American Indian students for college and careers
MCRRA hosted a webinar on August 17 on supporting American Indian students as they prepare for college and careers. The webinar featured Dr. Amanda Tachine, postdoctoral scholar at Arizona State University, and Tami Johnson, counselor for the Indian Education Program at Minneapolis Public Schools. Dr. Tachine shared research on the unique challenges that American Indian students face, as well as culturally responsive strategies that can help students overcome these challenges. Johnson shared college and career preparation strategies from her work in Minneapolis, highlighting practices that respond to American Indian students’ cultural contexts, communities, and lived experiences. Recordings of the full webinar and individual presentations, along with the presentation slides, will be posted soon on the REL Midwest website.

 


Meet the partnership facilitator
Jenny Scala may be new to MCRRA, but she is familiar with the world of collaborative research. Get to know the senior researcher who is bringing together individuals from different agencies to explore research questions related to career readiness.

Read more  Read more

 


Project takes deeper dive into World’s Best Workforce plans
Minnesota state legislators passed the WBWF legislation in 2013, requiring each school district in the state to develop a plan to address five strategic goals. Learn how MDE is partnering with REL Midwest to gain insights into common themes and priorities from these plans.

Read more  Read more

 


Meet the alliance member
MCRRA member Paula Palmer is the director of career and college success at MDE. Hear from Palmer about her hopes for the alliance’s work on preparing Minnesota’s students to graduate ready for careers.

Read more  Read more

 


State liaison builds coalitions among researchers and local stakeholders
For Taishya Adams, the Minnesota state liaison for REL Midwest, the North Star State is familiar territory. In this interview, Adams explains how state liaisons build coalitions among state education staff, researchers, and other key stakeholders.

Read more  Read more

 


Resources and events
A number of high-quality resources related to career readiness are available online. We curated seven resources that you should know about, including several REL Midwest resources.

Read more  Read more

 

Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
about any of the items in this newsletter
or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.
REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
10 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60606

                        

This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007 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 e-mail was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This e-mail 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

June 25, 2017

Research Alliance Tackles Wisconsin’s Black-White Achievement Gap

From Wednesday’s inbox…

To view this email as a web page, go here.
REL Midwest Research Update
Deb Gurke and Kyle FaganMessage from the partnership facilitator and research liaison
Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest is partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (Wisconsin DPI) to form the Midwest Achievement Gap Research Alliance (MAGRA). Knowing Wisconsin has the largest Black-White achievement gap in the country, Wisconsin DPI identified this issue as the focus of the alliance. The alliance will develop and carry out a 3- to 5-year research agenda that will help identify effective practices for closing this achievement gap and build on work underway at the department. The alliance seeks to produce research and engage in activities that will impact this long-standing issue in the state of Wisconsin. Fortunately, we have individuals and organizations from various contexts working collaboratively on strategies.The alliance has representation from all levels of the education system in Wisconsin, including Wisconsin DPI, cooperative educational service agencies, districts, and schools. The University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Great Lakes Equity Center also are engaged in the work. In addition, the Wisconsin National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has two members working on the alliance. We are excited and honored to be working with this group of people who bring so much passion, commitment, and experience to the challenge of closing the Black-White achievement gap.

We hope you enjoy the following articles and resources, which provide insight into our current and upcoming work.—Deb Gurke, partnership facilitator, and Kyle Fagan, research liaison

 


How will MAGRA tackle the achievement gap?
MAGRA will launch two projects in 2017 that support Wisconsin DPI’s continued efforts to close the Black-White achievement gap.In partnership with the MAGRA membership, REL Midwest researchers will conduct a systematic review of research literature on strategies that effectively reduce the Black-White achievement gap. The review will examine what strategies improve educational outcomes for Black students, key characteristics of successful interventions, and which interventions can be applied across a variety of contexts. This literature review will be posted to the REL Midwest website in late 2017.

REL Midwest also will support the MAGRA membership with in-depth coaching and consultation. Although Wisconsin currently has a framework for closing the achievement gap between students of color and their peers, the complexity and number of approaches to closing the achievement gap make coordination and evaluation difficult. Wisconsin DPI and alliance members have asked REL Midwest to perform an environmental scan of current efforts to close the achievement gap in Wisconsin. The hope is that a shared understanding of the challenge will allow Wisconsin DPI and its partners to enhance how they work together to close the achievement gap in the state.

 


Task force asks successful educators to share insights about closing the achievement gap
The achievement gap, or the difference in academic performance among different groups of students, poses a significant problem to students and states alike. Faced with data from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress showing Wisconsin had the widest race-based achievement gaps in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics, State Superintendent Dr. Tony Evers convened a task force to address this persistent and troubling issue. The outcomes of the task force’s work have informed MAGRA’s research agenda and planned efforts.The Promoting Excellence for All: State Superintendent’s Task Force on Wisconsin’s Achievement Gap included 18 educators—superintendents, principals, teachers, curriculum coordinators, and instructional coaches—from traditional public, charter, and private schools with demonstrated success in closing the achievement gap. With research and facilitation support from the Midwest Comprehensive Center and Wisconsin DPI, this group shared and brainstormed strategies, resources, and policy changes to address the achievement gap. Specifically, the task force sought to:

  • Examine and recommend proactive instructional strategies to close achievement gaps in Wisconsin.
  • Develop resources for Wisconsin practitioners working to close achievement gaps in their schools and districts.
  • Recommend local board policy changes that can support efforts to close achievement gaps in Wisconsin schools.

The task force’s work culminated in two products: a report and an eCourse.

  • The report (PDF) breaks down the task force’s beliefs, support from the research, and recommended strategies into four categories: effective instruction, student-teacher relationships, family and community engagement, and school and instructional leadership.
  • The eCourse is designed to help educators deepen their understanding and use of proven strategies to close the achievement gap. It comprises three learning modules: Understanding Race in Education, Exploring the Data, and Using the Strategies.

MAGRA member Allison DeGraaf, principal at Kennedy Elementary School in Janesville, Wisconsin, participated in the task force and sees Promoting Excellence for All as a foundation for the alliance’s research on the achievement gap.

“When the task force completed these resources, we knew the work couldn’t stop there. We hoped it would start further work,” said DeGraaf. “I think the alliance can dig deeper into the research and figure out resources, action steps, and strategies to continue to support schools in Wisconsin doing this work.”

Visit Wisconsin DPI’s Promoting Excellence for All website to access comprehensive information and resources. We also encourage you to stay up-to-date with REL Midwest’s related work on closing the achievement gap in Wisconsin and other Midwest states.

 


Chrishirella Warthen-SuttonMeet the alliance member: Chrishirella Warthen-Sutton, Ph.D.
MAGRA member Chrishirella Warthen-Sutton, Ph.D., is the manager of the Office of Family and Community Engagement for the Racine Unified School District in southeastern Wisconsin. The state’s fifth-largest district, Racine includes 31 schools that serve a diverse population of 19,455 students. Working across this large district, Warthen-Sutton designs, directs, and evaluates programs and services to promote year-round strategic engagement of families and communities.When asked why she joined MAGRA, Dr. Warthen-Sutton said she feels a sense of urgency to develop ideas for narrowing the Black-White gap in education access and opportunity in Wisconsin. She cites the severity of the gap and the many challenges facing the state’s Black students. “The soaring unemployment rate, marginal career and college readiness, health care disparities, and unprecedented incarceration rates continue to plague Wisconsin’s Black community,” she explains. “The progress is bleak statewide, given the national and state measures signifying that Wisconsin is the worst state in the nation for a Black child to be educated.”

Through her work with MAGRA, Dr. Warthen-Sutton hopes to broaden the discourse by examining the achievement gap through the lenses of equity, social justice, and cultural competency. “The identifiable challenge is that there are many teachers who are not culturally competent,” she notes. “Belief systems shape a person’s worldview of others who are culturally, racially, and linguistically diverse…. Cultural responsiveness has the potential to shift mindsets and influence practices that affirm and acknowledge the brilliance of Black children.”

In working with education-based community organizations, Dr. Warthen-Sutton has learned the power of personal stories, experiences, and perspectives to broaden people’s understanding of equity and race, as well as the value of courageous conversations. “Many efforts to address Black student achievement fail due to the lack of courage to isolate and name race as a primary contributing factor,” she explains.

On both a professional and personal level, Dr. Warthen-Sutton hopes her involvement with the alliance will advance her capacity to consider robust ways to address the access and opportunity gap for Black students in an intentional and deliberate manner. “In order to be a champion for children, we must be accountable for the detrimental consequences of allowing them to fall through the cracks.”

 


Resources and events

Promoting Excellence for All: A Report from the State Superintendent’s Task Force on Wisconsin’s Achievement Gap (PDF)
This Wisconsin DPI report identifies classroom-centered best practices intended to address Wisconsin’s achievement gaps. The task force was composed of representatives from schools with narrowing achievement gaps or quickly growing achievement rates for students of color.

Understanding Race in Education: Promoting Excellence for All E-Module
This module, developed by Wisconsin DPI and the Minority Student Achievement Network, explores perceptions of race and subsequent effects on the education system. Teachers can use this module to create positive and inclusive interactions with students, families, and community members.

Great Lakes Comprehensive Center Achievement Resource Center
The Great Lakes Comprehensive Center Achievement Resource Center offers resources to support educators in their efforts to help African-American young men reach their full potential. Content is organized by five topic areas: data trends and use, instructional support, models of success, thought leaders, and social-emotional support.

Tribal Consultation Under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Briefs
Research shows that when schools partner with tribal communities and incorporate culture into the curriculum, American Indian students have a greater chance of academic success. The Midwest Comprehensive Center created two briefs to support the meaningful tribal consultation required under ESSA: Tribal Consultation Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: A Guide for Tribal Leaders and Communities (PDF) and Tribal Consultation Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: A Guide for Affected Districts (PDF).

Culturally Responsive Resources for Native Students
This REL Southwest webinar examines two high-quality online repositories of culturally responsive education resources for Native students.

 

Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
about any of the items in this newsletter
or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.
REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
10 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60606                       
This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007 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 e-mail was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

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

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