Also from yesterday’s inbox… Note that there are several K-12 online learning items below, so be sure to scroll all the way through.
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To use data and research to improve academic outcomes for students and provide support for a more evidence-reliant education system.
Message From the Director
Welcome to Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest’ssummer 2015 newsletter. I am pleased to share this update on the important work under way with our research alliances.For nearly four years, REL Midwest has been engaging state and district stakeholders in conversations about research findings and use. We have conducted more than 50 projects and 30 events with our research alliances during this time.
Many of our projects result in published reports, but these reports are just one part of our stakeholder engagement strategy. This strategy starts during the concept phase and results in a multipronged approach to communicating about research and supporting the use of findings in policy and practice. This newsletter highlights some of the many engagement strategies we have used recently to disseminate, discuss, and increase the impact of our work. — Julie Kochanek, Ph.D.
REL Representatives Meet in Chicago to Discuss Collaborative Research
On April 17, representatives from RELs across the country and researchers interested in research-practice partnerships attended a workshop in downtown Chicago hosted by REL Midwest. The workshop, titled “ Realizing a Collaborative Research Theory of Action While Waiting for Research Results,” encouraged participants to discuss the benefits and challenges of collaborative research and brainstorm ways to improve research alliance member engagement.
During the first session, REL Midwest shared its theory of action that depicts the relationships needed in an effective research-practice partnership. Ideally, researchers may call upon practitioners—and vice versa—for input, information, and support. The practitioners also share relationships among themselves that enable them to leverage the experiences and wisdom of the group. REL Midwest uses this theory of action to design processes and resources to nurture these relationships throughout the partnership’s life span.
The second session highlighted strategies for engaging stakeholder advisory groups (SAGs) in the work of the partnership. SAG members are interested in specific projects and meet regularly with the project director to ensure that the work is informative and useful. Workshop participants discussed how researchers and SAG members build a trusting and successful relationship by viewing each other as experts.
The highlight of the afternoon session was an example of a SAG in Iowa. Ann-Marie Faria, lead of REL Midwest’s Early Childhood Education Research Alliance, and Shanell Wagler, administrator of Early Childhood Iowa, have built a collaborative, trusting relationship through their work on the alliance. The passion they found in their work together shone through the second session.
“We have a mutual respect for our content areas,” Ann-Marie said. “I am bringing something to the table, and I couldn’t do any of this work without the expertise of my state partners.”
The final session examined engagement activities including briefings, workshops, webinars, newsletters, and social media. Workshop participants discussed the effectiveness of these communications strategies and shared additional engagement tactics such as on-site meetings with stakeholders.
Workshop participant Natalie Lacireno-Paquet, senior research associate at REL Northeast and Islands, said the suggestion to think explicitly about alliance members as ambassadors was a key takeaway from the workshop.
“I think we talk about that, but I don’t know if we necessarily talk to our members about their role in that way,” Natalie said. “We should engage alliance members in thinking about their role not only on the alliance but also their role as ambassadors among their professional networks for the work they do with us.”
Published Reports From the Alliances
Who Will Succeed and Who Will Struggle? Predicting Early College Success With Indiana’s Student Information System
This study examined whether data on Indiana high school students, their high schools, and the Indiana public colleges and universities in which they enroll predict their academic success during the first two years in college. The study, produced in partnership with the College and Career Success Research Alliance , found that college success differed by student demographic and academic characteristics, by the type of college a student first entered, and by the indicator of college success used.
Examining Changes to Michigan’s Early Childhood Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS)
This study, produced in partnership with the Early Childhood Education Research Alliance, described how early childhood programs were rated in Michigan’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS, calledGreat Start to Quality ) and examined how alternative approaches to calculating ratings affected the number of programs rated at each quality level. The study found that programs self-rated at low quality and high quality more often than at moderate quality. The study also found that programs with both a self-rating and an independent observation of quality generally had higher self-ratings than observational ratings. The study used simulated data to compare the distributions of ratings in the original QRIS with a revised version of the QRIS that relaxed requirements for the standards programs were required to meet across the rating categories (domains). These approaches were compared to a third approach that used only programs’ overall scores. Findings revealed that in the new relaxed system and the total score approach, programs were rated at higher levels of quality when compared to the original QRIS.
College Enrollment Patterns for Rural Indiana High School Graduates
REL Midwest, in partnership with its Rural Research Alliance, examined student data on the 2010 graduating class of Indiana public high schools to learn about differences in the college pathways of rural and nonrural high school students. The report found that 2010 graduates of rural and nonrural public high schools in Indiana had similar academic preparation and likelihood of acceptance, but rural graduates were more likely to enroll in two-year colleges and less selective colleges than they could have gotten into based on their academic qualifications.PLUS: A new infographic summarizes key findings.
How Methodology Decisions Affect the Variability of Schools Identified as Beating the Odds
Methodology decisions can affect which schools are identified as “beating the odds” (BTO)–that is, performing better than expected given the populations they serve. The purpose of this study, produced in partnership with the School Turnaround Research Alliance, was to examine how a list of BTO schools might change depending on the methodological choices and selection of indicators used in the BTO identification process. Using data from Michigan, this study demonstrates how the identification of schools changes when statistical methods and technical specifications change.
Online Course Use in Iowa and Wisconsin Public High Schools: The Results of Two Statewide Surveys
This study, conducted in partnership with the Virtual Education Research Alliance, examined survey data collected from Iowa and Wisconsin public high schools about their use of online courses for students during the 2012–13 school year. The survey asked about how and why schools enrolled students in online courses, what challenges they experienced, and their practices for monitoring and supporting students taking online courses. Results indicated that the primary uses of online courses in both states were to provide students with opportunities for credit recovery and opportunities to complete core requirements for courses covering the primary academic subjects. REL Midwest also created a Stated Briefly summary of the report. PLUS: Two infographics highlight findings from Iowa and Wisconsin.
Collaborative Research Video Series
Check out REL Midwest’s videos on collaborative research on the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) YouTubechannel to learn how collaborative research contributes to the relevance and utility of our work.
Resources and Events
- Are you curious about the long-term effects of student debt? Review REL Midwest’s Reference Desk response to this question to find out what research says on the topic. Responses to other requests are available on the Ask a REL webpage. If you have a question that is not answered in the archive, submit it to Ask a REL.
- IES releases reports and resources from across the Regional Educational Laboratory Program every couple of weeks. Visit the REL Program website to learn about what’s new and sign up for the IES News Flash to receive notifications of REL reports and events.
- The Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR) Center recently announced completion of an innovation configuration titledEvidence-Based Reading Instruction for Adolescents Grades 6–12. This new resource highlights evidence-based practices that teacher educators or professional development providers can use in their coursework. Topics of other innovation configurations, created in partnership with the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at American Institutes for Research, include classroom organization and behavior management, evidence-based mathematics instruction, and inclusive services. The CEEDAR Center is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
- Planning is under way for a proposed public television event on the topic of research and strategies to support rural dropout prevention and an in-person event on the topic of online learning. The REL Midwest event team is working with the Rural Research Alliance and Virtual Education Research Alliance, respectively, for these events. Announcements of upcoming events and archives of completed events are available on our website.
- The REL Midwest Board of Directors met May 1, 2015, in Oak Brook, Illinois. During the meeting, REL Midwest acknowledged outgoing state superintendents Michael Flanagan (Michigan superintendent of public instruction) and Christopher Koch, Ed.D. (Illinois state superintendent of education), for their service on the REL Midwest Board of Directors and their commitment to public education. REL Midwest also thanked board members whose terms expired in May: Gary Crow, Ph.D. (Indiana University), Dorinda Gallant, Ph.D. (The Ohio State University), John Hosp, Ph.D. (University of Iowa), and Linda Roule (Chicago Public Schools).
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REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
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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.
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