Virtual School Meanderings

October 2, 2015

Five Things to Know About the Virtual Education Research Alliance

Note that there was an item from yesterday’s REL Midwest Research Update: September 2015 that I wanted to highlight…

Five Things to Know About the Virtual Education Research Alliance

You probably already knew that one of the goals of the Virtual Education Research Alliance (VERA) is to develop and carry out a research agenda that focuses on questions about student achievement and virtual-learning conditions.

But you may not have known the following:

And there is a lot more to know about us. Check out the VERA page on the REL Midwest website to read more about alliance members and recent research.

Photo credit: Bill Selak (this image was not altered or edited)

Author(s) Information

Peggy Clements
Senior Research Scientist | Education Development Center
Pam Jacobs
Senior Technical Assistance Consultant | American Institutes for Research

October 1, 2015

REL Midwest Research Update: September 2015

From Tuesday’s inbox…

To view this email as a web page, go here.
REL Midwest Research Update
To use data and research to improve academic outcomes for students and provide support for a more evidence-reliant education system.
Message From the Research Alliance Manager

Carrie Scholz, Ph.D.Welcome to Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest’s fall 2015 newsletter. With the harvesting season upon us, we are sharing some of the ways that our alliances are reaping the benefits of collaborative research.

At REL Midwest, we work with our alliance members to build a collaborative infrastructure and negotiate a coherent research agenda. We also work together to assess and build data to address the research agenda, conduct collaborative research projects, and engage around results to increase research findings’ access and use. Our short video on collaborative research at REL Midwestfurther defines collaborative research and explains why we follow this approach.

Our collaborative research efforts focus on meeting the needs of our alliance members and building their capacity to access and use research. However, REL Midwest’s research staff consistently express how rewarding it is to codesign and collaboratively conduct research projects that inform alliance members’ decisions. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our alliance members for making this work so rewarding for all involved.—Carrie Scholz, Ph.D.

Cross-State Collaboration Benefits Early Warning Systems in Minnesota and Wisconsin

In 2012, approximately three quarters of a million students nationwide failed to finish high school. To address this problem, several states across the country have developed statewide early warning systems (EWS), which help schools identify students at risk of dropping out.

REL Midwest has partnered with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to develop a survey that will allow school administrators and staff to provide feedback on how DPI’s Dropout Early Warning System (DEWS) and MDE’s Minnesota Early Indicator and Response System (MEIRS) are being implemented in their schools. The information gained from the surveys will help DPI and MDE refine DEWS and MEIRS tools, supports, and training.

According to researchers and alliance members, collaboration across organizations and states has been a key factor in the project’s success. REL Midwest researcher Sonica Dhillon emphasized that alliance members like Jared Knowles of DPI and John Gimpl of MDE are “valuable partners on this project” and have been “instrumental in providing information on the unique context within their states.”

Knowles underscored that the survey will give his department vital feedback from schools on DEWS implementation and usage. Gimpl highlighted the added benefit of cross-state collaboration.

“Knowing our neighbors to the East [DPI] have a similar perspective but do things differently was helpful to see,” Gimpl explained. “It helped us see through different lenses, and helped us prioritize and figure out where we wanted to go moving forward.”

The survey is still in the development phase and will be administered in November 2015. After the survey data are collected, REL Midwest researchers and officials from both states will work together to interpret the results and make recommendations for future policy actions.

Research in Use: Collaboration on REL Midwest’s Teacher Supply and Demand Study

Richard WassenRichard Wassen, who recently retired as the Director of Educator Licensing at MDE, has worked with REL Midwest for 15 years and served on the Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance for four years. REL Midwest recently sat down with Wassen before he left his post to learn about his experience working with REL Midwest.

Wassen partnered with REL Midwest researchers to redevelop Minnesota’s Teacher Supply and Demand Study, the results of which recently led both MDE and the Minnesota legislature to enact several significant changes in teacher workforce policy. The study examined teacher shortage areas, characteristics of Minnesota’s teacher workforce, teacher attrition rates, enrollment forecasts, and districts’ ability to find substitutes.

“Stakeholders had been critical of our previous studies of supply and demand because the studies seemed to lack focus and failed to directly answer the questions that they had,” said Wassen.

REL Midwest helped MDE refocus the study by identifying testable research questions and reliable data to answer them; developing a survey of districts using best practices; advising MDE on the survey administration process to ensure good response rates; and providing statistical tools to ensure MDE could complete rigorous analysis for this and future studies.

According to Wassen, the study helped MDE identify three key challenges:

  • The teacher workforce lacks diversity.
  • The teacher testing system has produced unexpected consequences.
  • The balance between teacher supply and demand varies across Minnesota’s economic development regions.

Wassen said the Teacher Supply and Demand Study became a tool that allows the Commissioner of Education and state legislators to have “reliable data, which provides a basis for creating new legislation.” Wassen also talked about the impact the study had on policy, such as new legislation on licensing requirements for out-of-state teachers and teacher licensure testing. It also heavily informed the state’s 2015 teacher equity plan.

All About EdMaps

REL Midwest’s EdMaps displays complex education data visually and geographically on issues such as priority and focus schools, historic district-level poverty, and historic graduation rates within the Midwest region. Visit REL Midwest’s EdMaps on our website, where you will find five story maps and our custom maps tool. And stay tuned for two new story maps from REL Midwest before the end of 2015!

Resources and Events


  • REL Midwest recently launched a Newsroom that features stories on REL Midwest’s alliance members, projects, events, and more. A recent post highlights five things to know about the Virtual Education Research Alliance, from the alliance lead and lead researcher.
  • REL Midwest posted new state profiles for each of the seven Midwest states served in our region. The profiles provide a quick, clear summary of the schools and students served in each of the Midwest states.


  • School Turnaround Research Alliance lead Taishya Adams and alliance members Karen Ruple (Michigan Department of Education), Greg Keith (Minnesota Department of Education), and Teresa Brown (Indiana Department of Education) participated in the “Closing Opportunity and Achievement Gaps” meeting, held September 16–17, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The meeting was cohosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Center for Systemic Improvement, and the Center on School Turnaround.
  • On September 9, 2015, the Rural Education Research Alliance filmed a public television bridge event in partnership with Indianapolis’s public television station, WFYI. The discussion focused on rural dropout prevention and will air October 3, 2015, as part of WFYI’s American Graduate Day programming.
  • The Cross-REL Rural Working Group will present at the National Rural Education Association’s annual convention and research symposium (October 16–18, 2015, in St. Louis, Missouri). Rural Education Research Alliance members John Hill (National Rural Education Association), Marsha Lewis (Ohio University), and Erin Joyce (Battelle for Kids) will present a session with alliance lead Tori Cirks at the Rural Education National Forum (October 26–27, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio).
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
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.


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September 28, 2015

Free Webinar on State Educator Equity Plans

From this past Friday’s inbox…

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

Join us for a free webinar on developing State Educator Equity Plans, including lessons learned from other states, strategies, and resources available to help with state planning.

September 30, 2015
3:00–4:30 p.m. Central Time

Register Button

Ensuring that all students have equitable access to high-quality teachers is not only a nationwide priority but also a federal mandate. Learn from other states and experts in the field as we discuss State Plans to Ensure Equitable Access to Excellent Educators, including examples from Arizona and Minnesota.


  • Key issues around equitable access to excellent educators and the U.S. Department of Education’s mandate, including 2015 requirements
  • Current research on educator inequities and historically disadvantaged students
  • Strategies for developing State Educator Equity Plans, including examples from two states
  • Resources available to support state-level planning on educator equity

This webinar is cohosted by REL Midwest, REL Southwest, REL West, and the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders.

REL Southwest Logo         REL West Logo         Center on Great Teachers and Leaders Logo

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August 30, 2015

REL Midwest Research Update: Urban Research Alliance

From Friday’s inbox…

To view this email as a web page, go here.
REL Midwest Research Update
Alliance Goal:
To create a community of practice to measure and test continuous improvement efforts, focused specifically on the needs of urban districts.
Message From the Alliance Lead

Nicol ChristieAs a former public school teacher and program administrator in two of the nation’s most complex urban school systems, I am so encouraged by the work that REL Midwest is doing through its research alliances and thrilled to serve as the Urban Research Alliance lead.

The Urban Research Alliance brings together researchers, content experts, and practitioners to explore topics of interest and need among member districts in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Our member districts focus on continuous school improvement through district-wide initiatives that support data-based decision making in areas such as early warning indicators for dropout prevention, social and emotional learning, multi-tiered systems of support, college and career readiness, and school climate, including alternatives to suspension and expulsion. We are very excited to tackle these complex issues and look forward to broadening our understanding and identifying more effective practices in the Midwest’s urban school districts.

As the urban landscape continues to shift and evolve, our charge is to always keep finding ways, through research and evidence, to continue to elevate teaching and learning for all students. –Nicol Christie

Improving School Climate: Strategies From the Cleveland Metropolitan School District

image of specific strategiesIn June, REL Midwest’s Urban Research Alliance hosted a webinar covering specific strategies that schools and districts can use to establish a positive culture to help improve students’ learning experiences. Panelists looked specifically at examples from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD). The webinar featured CEO Eric Gordon and former principal Janet McDowell, both from CMSD, and David Osher, Ph.D., vice president and institute fellow at American Institutes for Research (AIR).

CMSD began examining its policies and programs concerning school climate, particularly student safety, after a school shooting in Cleveland in 2007. CMSD responded to this tragic event not only by implementing new metal detectors and surveillance cameras, but also by dedicating time to developing its “humanware”–the well-being of the people at each school in the district.

Dr. Osher and his team supported CMSD’s humanware development efforts by collecting and measuring the district’s school climate data. The researchers analyzed data from 2008 to 2013 to look at the extent to which changes in conditions for learning—safety; support, care, and connections; peer social and emotional competency; and challenge and engagement—explain and predict changes in schools’ performance. They found that conditions for learning are highly associated with academic outcomes in CMSD.

“While the conditions for learning data are important as a whole, the data that seem to be the biggest drivers are physical and emotional safety,” Osher added.

Gordon and McDowell discussed how Dr. Osher’s findings relate to their practices at the school and district levels. The district intentionally incorporated social and emotional learning skills into its curriculum and instructional strategy. CMSD also implemented assessments, including the AIR-created Conditions for Learning Survey , programming and interventions for students with risk factors, and a system-wide infrastructure and design to embed these practices.

“We redesigned our climate and culture work to put it on par, side-by-side, with our academic work,” Gordon said.

Both Gordon and McDowell cited safety as a priority for school climate work at the district and school levels, echoing Osher. McDowell shared that parents, students, and teachers listed safety as their top concern in a survey that she distributed when she first came to CMSD’s Wade Park Elementary School.

Gordon said, “When I came to Cleveland, safety was our students’ number one concern.”

“Two years ago, that dropped to number two,” he added. “Last year, it dropped to number three. And this year, it dropped off the top of the list, and we believe that’s all because of our social-emotional learning work.”

The archived webinar will soon be available on the Institute of Education Sciences’ YouTube channel. There, you will be able to see a recording of the live video feed and interactive discussion session. The presentation slides and related resources are available on REL Midwest’s website.

Project Highlight: Measuring Fidelity of Response to Intervention With RTI View

The Urban Research Alliance began developing RTI View, a tool to measure the implementation fidelity of response to intervention (RTI) in schools, in 2013 and is currently piloting the system with Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). The research project and tool arose from alliance members’ uncertainty about whether their schools were implementing RTI as intended.

RTI View is a tool that school and district administrators can use to monitor their schools’ implementation of RTI and identify areas in need of improvement. The tool has two main components: a rubric for rating implementation and an electronic platform that aggregates ratings for RTI’s key components and provides actionable information based on the rubric ratings. This includes professional development options and resources for school staff related to 35 indicators.

The system is designed for users at various administrative levels. For instance, school administrators can see how their school’s ratings have improved or declined over time. Alternatively, regional superintendents can see aggregate information across schools to identify patterns of RTI implementation.

During the tool’s development, REL Midwest’s researchers worked closely with MPS and alliance members to develop a customized version of the fidelity monitoring rubric and electronic platform. The alliance determined that the tool would only be used if school and district staff saw the data as trustworthy and easy to use and interpret. As such, REL Midwest’s staff continuously gathered input on the system from teachers, school and district administrators, and district school improvement coaches.

“The process of gathering input has helped us develop a sense of trust among potential users of the system,” said Jim Lindsay, the lead researcher on the project.

He explained, “In this age of accountability, school staff members often run for cover when they hear ‘data-based decision making.’ But by continuously soliciting their input as we develop the system, we have more opportunities to show how the system is being developed to serve as a formative tool.”

Alliance member Deb Gurke, director of research and development at MPS, echoed Lindsay’s sentiment about the value of gathering input from people at the school level.

“The interview process was a valuable way to get the school staff perspective of the framework,” she said.

Meet the Alliance Member

Deb GurkeDeb Gurke serves as the director of research and development at MPS and recently joined REL Midwest’s Urban Research Alliance.

Gurke’s involvement in public education issues begin in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she worked on a project with the local League of Women Voters chapter to help the local school district print communication materials in multiple languages for parents outlining the district’s various schooling opportunities. In addition, Gurke previously served as a local school board member in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Currently, Gurke leads evaluation and survey projects for MPS and also approves applications from external researchers interested in studying the district. She explains that the goal of this work is to help district staff not only better understand research, but also to get to the “why” and “how” behind these data. Gurke is excited by the opportunity to partner with organizations such as REL Midwest to develop meaningful research and address these underlying issues.

“Practitioners have great intentions, but they often don’t have enough time to tackle large research projects,” she said. “We benefit from having external researchers involved to initiate the work and keep the projects moving forward.”

Gurke acknowledged that staff turnover is one challenge for developing research-practice partnerships in urban school districts.

“Not only do urban districts have high mobility rates among students and teachers, but district staff also can change during the course of a research project,” she explained.

For Gurke, the ultimate benefit of a research-practice partnership is that the research product is driven by the issues and topics that are important to practitioners in the field.

“In education, there are a lot of conversations around making decisions based on research and evidence,” she said. “We want to continue to help practitioners get comfortable working with researchers so that we can produce work that will lead to better results.”

Meet the Researcher

Jim Lindsay, Ph.D.Jim Lindsay, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at AIR, with more than 15 years of experience in research and evaluation.

Lindsay first became involved with the Urban Research Alliance in 2009 when it formed as the first of REL Midwest’s research alliances. He points to those early conversations between researchers and directors of research and evaluation in urban districts as creating “the foundation of our current REL work” for this and other alliances.

Presently, Lindsay’s work as lead researcher for the alliance is focused on developing the RTI fidelity monitoring system in collaboration with MPS. This project grew from a challenge identified among alliance members: Although districts were increasingly relying on RTI as a school improvement strategy, there were no research-based tools or systems in place to measure the implementation or outcomes of the RTI. (See Project Highlight: Measuring Fidelity of Response to Intervention With RTI View, above, for more information about this project.)

On this project, Lindsay shares “that with proper training, schools should be able to use the information generated through the dashboard system to improve RTI implementation.”

Lindsay’s work with the Urban Research Alliance has affected his view of the process for conducting education research. Lindsay says he has gained insight into the contextual challenges faced by research directors in urban districts as they attempt to use data, implement interventions, and garner buy-in from school staff. He also stresses the benefits for researchers of applying their research and collaborating with the schools they study.

“Research is a two-way street,” Lindsay said. “If our goal is to help education stakeholders use data more effectively, we need to listen to the views of those stakeholders on how they use data currently and work with them to find ways of viewing data in a way that is easy to interpret and act upon.”

Urban Education Resources and Events



  • REL Midwest and its Urban Research Alliance recently hosted a webinar designed to increase awareness of the research that looks at the relationship between school climate and student- and school-level outcomes in CMSD. View the archived presentation slides.
  • “Sailing to Success in Urban Education,” the 59th Annual Fall Conference of the Council of the Great City Schools, will be held October 7–11, 2015, in Long Beach, California.
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
Urban Research Alliance
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.


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July 24, 2015

REL Midwest Research Update: School Turnaround Research Alliance

Also from yesterday’s inbox…

To view this email as a web page, go here.
Message From the Alliance Lead

Taishya AdamsI joined the REL Midwest School Turnaround Research Alliance as the alliance lead in January 2015, after attending the Center on School Turnaround’s 2014 annual conference. During the conference, I met state education agency (SEA) representatives from across the country and learned about their strengths and challenges in turning around chronically underperforming schools.

REL Midwest’s School Turnaround Research Alliance is committed to building capacity among its SEA members to identify and address school turnaround challenges related to policy and practice through regional research, technical assistance, and stakeholder engagement projects. The School Turnaround Research Alliance’s work will inform the development of evidence-based tools, processes, and policies to help states, districts, and schools support school improvement efforts.

It has been a joy to engage and collaborate with SEA representatives from Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. My favorite part about serving as an alliance lead is creating a space for authentic thought partnership and regional collaboration. Building bridges and connecting people and their work has been a lifelong commitment. I am excited for the road ahead as the alliance revises its goal and identifies topics and research questions that will inform our work. — Taishya Adams

REL Midwest Transitions Alliance’s Focus From Beating the Odds to School Turnaround

In 2012, a group of state- and local-level Michigan stakeholders came together to determine how to identify previously low-performing public schools that were outperforming their peers—schools that were beating the odds. With support from REL Midwest, this group became the Beating the Odds Research Alliance. Over the next two years, the Beating the Odds Research Alliance worked with REL Midwest to analyze Michigan’s approach to identifying schools that outperform expectations. Projects conducted by the alliance included REL Midwest’s recent report, How Methodology Decisions Affect the Variability of Schools Identified as Beating the Odds.

In 2015, alliance members, in collaboration with REL Midwest leadership, identified the opportunity to expand the alliance’s focus to include all things related to school turnaround. The first iteration of the alliance worked to identify schools succeeding in challenging environments and to understand why these schools were able to succeed. Now, alliance members and researchers want to use this information to help other schools succeed. This expanded focus will allow alliance members to not only address issues related to identifying beating the odds schools, but also tackle challenges related to leadership, accountability, and the role of SEAs in school turnaround.

The expanded focus also provided an opportunity to revisit the alliance’s membership composition. To allow for more peer–to–peer collaboration, alliance members and REL Midwest leadership invited representatives from SEAs outside of Michigan to join the alliance and successfully recruited new members from Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

The newly formed School Turnaround Research Alliance’s expanded focus and composition necessitated that alliance members and REL Midwest researchers revisit the alliance’s goals, topics, and research questions. This ongoing process will allow new and veteran alliance members to be active participants in setting the alliance’s desired objectives as well as determining strategies, plans, and commitments to achieve them.

In one of the first projects conducted under the revamped School Turnaround Research Alliance, researchers are working with the Michigan Department of Education, along with intermediate school district and district administrators, to improve supports provided to focus schools through a rapid-cycle continuous improvement process. Through this process, REL Midwest will work with administrators to understand the root of the problems facing focus schools, improve upon supports to address these issues, and measure and track changes to outcomes of interest. Stay tuned for updates from this project.

Meet the Alliance Member

Taishya AdamsGreg Keith, director of the Division of School Support at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), has been with the department for three and half years and a member of the School Turnaround Research Alliance since 2015.

Although he joined the School Turnaround Research Alliance only recently, he is not new to research alliances or school turnaround. He has served as a member of REL Midwest’s Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance since its launch in 2012. Before coming to MDE, Keith was a school turnaround principal in Memphis, Tennessee, and also worked in the area of middle school reform at the district level.

Keith currently oversees MDE’s division that houses the system of support for the state’s identified focus and priority schools and provides technical assistance to schools and districts in the areas of continuous improvement planning, educator effectiveness and evaluation, and professional development.

The Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance was his first experience with a research-practice partnership, and that experience fueled his desire to join the School Turnaround Research Alliance.

“‘Research alliance’ sounded kind of big and abstract—like maybe it couldn’t relate to the work on the ground,” Keith said. “But I’ve learned that it really can have an impact on the work.”

Through projects of the Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance, Keith said alliance members tapped the technical expertise of REL Midwest and learned the basics of constructing a data-gathering tool and using it appropriately.

“Researchers didn’t just do the work for us,” Keith said. “They worked with us and that’s what was most valuable.”

By valuing the contributions from the school, district, and state levels, Keith brings an important perspective to the School Turnaround Research Alliance.

“When school turnaround is successful, it’s because all three levels—school, district, and state—work together,” he said. “I bring that personal awareness of what each level contributes.”

The people who do school turnaround work at all three levels keep Keith coming to the office every day. “They’re my motivation,” he said.

In his role, Keith strives to connect the work of the SEA to student outcomes.

“I regularly remind myself—and I ask my team to remember so that we can hold each other accountable—that for all actions, decisions, and policies, we consider if it is what’s best for the students.”

Meet the Researcher

Taishya AdamsMonica Bhatt, a researcher with REL Midwest’s School Turnaround Research Alliance, works to develop a research agenda and projects focused on school improvement supports in Midwest states. She joined the staff of REL Midwest in December 2014.

Bhatt has spent more than 10 years at the intersection of research, policy, and practice pursuing systematic answers to policy-relevant questions, both in the United States and abroad, including as a Fulbright Scholar in Madrid, Spain. Her experiences as a student, volunteer, researcher, policy analyst, and educator in diverse contexts led her to witness firsthand inequalities in education systems and the ways in which organizational factors could influence student outcomes.

“I’ve always been interested in the way that policy can drive organizational behavior and change,” said Bhatt.

She is particularly interested in the ways that states can design systems of support to spur improvements in low-performing schools, and has focused her dissertation in education policy at the University of Michigan on the implementation of statewide supports for low-performing schools in Michigan. As a researcher and technical assistance provider, she has worked on issues of school finance, educator quality, educator compensation, postsecondary access and equity, and school turnaround. Bhatt is currently working with the School Turnaround Research Alliance to develop a model of continuous improvement for state supports for focus schools in Michigan.

For Bhatt, the most enjoyable part of working with the alliance is the opportunity to engage with diverse perspectives from across the region.

“Right now the alliance is going through a process to develop topics of interest for a new research agenda,” said Bhatt. “I’ve enjoyed hearing the insights of both our new and returning members as we work to develop questions that will drive our work.”

She said the opportunity for direct collaboration with alliance members also has expanded the possibility of what research can do and how it can be incorporated into practice.

“It’s a win-win for all of us,” explained Bhatt. “The collaborative research model builds alliance members’ capacity to consume and participate in research while building our team’s capacity to ask and answer relevant questions for stakeholders.”

School Turnaround Resources and Events


  • Three recent responses to REL Midwest Reference Desk requests on topics related to school turnaround are archived online. The first response looks into measures used to identify schools that outperform expectations. The next document provides information on measures of poverty used in school turnaround research. A final scan outlines how the American Community Survey has been used to measure community wealth in relation to school academic outcomes.
  • REL Northeast & Islands created a Toolkit for a Workshop on Building a Culture of Data Use to guide facilitators through a set of structured activities to understand how to foster a culture of data use in districts and schools. The conceptual framework draws on five research-based elements known to support an effective culture of data use.
  • A new report from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, titled A First Look at the 5Essentials in Illinois Schools, provides the first comprehensive analysis of Illinois’ statewide survey of school climate and learning conditions. The report finds systematic differences among schools in the degree to which students and teachers report strengths in the five essential supports—effective leadership, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environments, and ambitious instruction.
  • Reform Support Network’s School Turnaround Performance Management Toolkitpresents a four-step framework to help states navigate changes and sustain their work as Race to the Top grants end. The framework has four variables: clarity of outcomes and theory of action, alignment of resources, collection and use of data, and accountability for results.
  • The State Role in School Turnaround: Emerging Best Practices from the Center on School Turnaround builds on existing research and shares experiences and observations from practitioners and scholars actively engaged in school turnaround efforts.
  • The Study of School Turnaround is a set of case studies that documents the change process during a three-year period in School Improvement Grant-funded schools located in diverse state and local contexts. A report from the Institute of Education Sciences, titled Case Studies of Schools Receiving School Improvement Grants: Findings After the First Year of Implementation, presents findings after the first year of funding (2010–11).


  • REL Midwest and its School Turnaround Research Alliance will host a Making Connections public television event in December 2015 with WVIZ in Cleveland. Stay tuned for more information about the filming, including the date and time, panelists, and discussion topics.
  • The School Turnaround Learning Community, a project of the Center on School Turnaround, will host a webinar on July 22 to showcase a strategy to guide SEAs and districts in assessing district readiness to support school turnaround. The presenters also will offer insights on school turnaround as a system-level issue requiring fundamental changes.
  • REL Appalachia hosted a webinar in September 2014 titled “Meeting Students’ Needs Through Increased Learning Time.” Speakers presented evidence that supports increased learning time programs and shared their experiences implementing these programs. You can view the archived webinar on REL Appalachia’s website.
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
School Turnaround Research Alliance
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 email was sent to:

This email was sent by: American Institutes for Research
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We respect your right to privacy – view our policy

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