Virtual School Meanderings

April 21, 2015

Research-Powered Education Practices — McREL e-News April 2015

And another one from Monday’s inbox…

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April 2015

Research Roundup

Board-certified teachers more effective, new studies affirm  

Education Week

Corroborating findings in earlier research, two new studiesshow that students who are taught by board-certified teachers have higher test scores.

The perfect classroom, according to science

Science Daily


Researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California-Berkeley reviewed the latest research on classroom environment and climate to develop a set of recommendations that depict the ideal classroom setting for successful student learning. Designers at Bright at Mediumcreated an infographic of the research findings to illustrate the various features of an ideal classroom.

Title I a challenge for education researchers

Education Week
Fifty years after the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), numerous evaluations have failed to prove whether ESEA’s Title I program has significantly improved achievement levels among disadvantaged children. Yet, some say the grant program makes a difference and that its effectiveness is not measurable because it’s a funding source, not an educational program.

In defense of snow days

Education Next
In a recent study of the impact of snow days on student achievement in Massachusetts, data showed that lost instruction time due to weather-related school closures had less of an impact on student achievement than did individual student absences when schools remained open. The author concludes that “teachers and schools are well prepared to deal with coordinated disruptions of instructional time like snow days but not with absences of different students at different times.”

In the Field

Upcoming conferences


Visit with our researchers and consultants at the following events to hear the latest insights and discoveries we’ve made:


2015 National Forum on Dropout Prevention for Native and Tribal Communities in Prior Lake, Minn., April 26-29.


AQuESTT Empowered by Data Conference hosted by the Nebraska Department of Education in Kearney, Neb., April 27-28.

Purposeful talk can help students close academic language gaps

Talking is an important precursor to effective reading and writing, say McREL’s Jane Hill and Kirsten Miller in the March 12 issue of ASCD Express. In this article, Hill and Miller recommend strategies for closing the academic language gap by giving students opportunities to engage in academic conversations using targeted disciplinary vocabulary, including transition words that will ultimately lead to longer, more complex sentences with higher-level vocabulary.

GreenSTEM: STEM as it’s meant to be
In an article published in the spring issue of The Source, McREL’s Laura Arndt and Anne Tweed discuss how GreenSTEM differs from other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs in its project-based approach to learning and its focus on real-world problem-solving in students’ local communities. Related: McREL is offering a GreenSTEM professional development workshop in Denver in June.

Australian educators’ conference on high-impact instruction strategies to improve student learning
VIDEO: In January, McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin delivered a keynote address to educators from Melbourne’s western suburbs at the Deer Park Sunshine Learning Network Conference in Australia. Schools in the network are implementing high-impact instruction strategies to improve student learning. This video tells the story of their mission and work.

Events & Opportunities

Federal i3 pre-applications due 


Development pre-applications for U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund grants are due byMay 5, 2015, for those who already submitted an intent to apply.

McREL’s summer professional development for teachers 


Learn effective strategies you can use to be more intentional with goal setting, instructional practices, and formative assessment in your classroom. Join us in Denver for workshops that combine insightful research with best practices to help improve your students’ odds of success. Group discounts available; view our entire schedule.


AWSM Formative Assessment for Middle School Math

June 18-19

The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching

June 22-23

News from McREL

McREL to evaluate key outcomes for federal i3 grant project in Colorado 


McREL has partnered with Northwest Colorado BOCES to provide external evaluation of the BOCES’s Investing in Innovation (i3) grant project, System for Educator Effectiveness Development (SEED), which will connect rural teachers in online learning communities to develop their expertise, helping overcome many of the PD challenges facing rural educators in northwest Colorado. Read our press release for more information.

Super typhoon Maysak ravages Micronesia: McREL and Habele partner to help students and families 


Through our REL Pacific work, McREL staff are keenly aware of the far-reaching effects of the super typhoon that hit Micronesia in early April. Families have been displaced, and many schools have closed for the remainder of the school year as the region rebuilds. McREL and the Habele education fund have partnered to establish direct links between students and educators in the U.S. looking to help our neighbors in Micronesia. Read more about ways you can help on Habele’s blog.

In This Issue

Featured Content

REL Pacific joins Twitter 

Follow @RELPacific on Twitter for the latest on education research, engaging infographics, videos, and National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences projects in the Pacific region.

Research Says: Communicate in the ways that count 

In the latest Research Says column in ASCD’sEducational Leadershipmagazine, Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein look at what emotional intelligence is and how it bolsters leadership at any organization.

Connect with Us on Social Media


For the latest in professional development opportunities, education news, research, and McREL employment opportunities, follow us on our social media channels.


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our profile on LinkedIn


Find us on Google+ View our videos on YouTube Visit our blog

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Denver, CO 80237
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April 4, 2015

Using Different Forms of Data to Transform Teaching and Learning

From Thursday’s inbox…

April 2015 | Email to a Friend | View in browser | View Past Issues   WestEd on FacebookWestEd on TwitterWestEd on Google+WestEd LinkedIn

Welcome to the WestEd E-Bulletin, presenting this month’s picks of the latest research-based projects and services, innovative new resources, and upcoming professional development events—all designed to help learners succeed in school and career.
R&D Alert Online

Using Data in Efforts to Transform Teaching and Learning

Read this month’s featured R&D Alert article to learn how educators are using different forms of data—everything from transportation data to student demographic data—to inform strategies for better supporting their students.

“While assessment data is critical to helping teachers understand students’ academic performance, it’s only one piece of a much larger body of knowledge that educators can, and should, tap into,” explains Ellen Mandinach, Director of WestEd’s Data for Decisions Initiative.

ELL new standards

English Language Learners and the New Standards: Developing Language, Content Knowledge, and Analytical Practices in the Classroom

How can teachers engage English language learners in simultaneously learning subject-area content, analytical practices, and language?

Explore ideas and practices that transform educators’ perspectives on language, language learning, assessment, and policy.

Pre-order your copy of this new resource today.

Teacher and Students

Restorative Justice in Schools: Research Study Findings

How is restorative justice in schools across the country implemented? Hear from WestEd presenters Anthony Petrosino and Sarah Guckenburg, who will talk about key findings of their research study on restorative justice practices in schools. Register today!

CCSSO Strengthening Policies


Creating Pathways to Success forAll Learners

  • Making Sense of SCIENCE supports pre-service and practicing teachers, teacher educators, staff developers, and curriculum specialists in focusing on the connections between science understanding, classroom practice, and literacy support. Register today.
  • The Program for Infant/Toddler Care offers training for early childhood professionals designed to help infants get a safe, healthy, emotionally secure, and intellectually rich start in life.Learn more.
  • Quality Teaching for English Learners (QTEL) Summer Institutes help teachers engage English language learners and all other students in discipline-specific deep, transferable learning. Register today.
  • Reading Apprenticeship offers a practitioner-tested and research-validated approach to increasing student engagement and achievement in subject-area literacy for secondary and college levels. Learn more.
School Improvement Grants

School Improvement Grants: Guidance and Tools for the Amended Regulations

This new resource provides states, districts, and schools with information and support to prepare applications for 2015/2016 School Improvement Grants (SIGs).

You’ll find tools, checklists, and questions designed to maximize the planning process. Download your free copy.

Adults working together


Join WestEd at National Education Conferences

WestEd staff will give more than 30 presentations at this month’s American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, the largest gathering of scholars in the field of education research.

Visit our booths and attend WestEd presentations at these upcoming education conferences:

  • National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), April 15-18, Boston, MA. Learn more.
  • National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), April 15-19, Chicago, IL.Learn more.
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA), April 16-20, Chicago, IL. Learn more.
Video Fred Tempes

Fostering a School Climate to Improve School Safety and Academic Achievement

“A positive school climate is essential for kids …leading to positive outcomes in a wide range of areas: academic, social, emotional, behavioral, health—all resulting in safe schools.”

—Gregory Austin, Director, Health & Human Development Program, WestEd

The Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University and WestEd recently sponsored a Congressional Briefing on School Safety and Violence Prevention. View Austin’s presentation, along with those of the other key presenters.

Making Sense of Student Work

Making Sense of Student Work—A Protocol for Teacher Collaboration: 20% Off eBook Version!

“[Making Sense of Student Work] supports teachers who want to understand what their students know and how they reason so that they can leverage learning in productive ways.”

— Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor of Education, Stanford University

Purchase your copy today.

Data for Decisions

Data for Decisions Initiative: Supporting Better Use of Education Data

The Data for Decisions Initiative (DDI) at WestEd provides evidence-based services and resources related to education data use for educators, policymakers, researchers, parents, and other stakeholders.

DDI focuses on several key goals:

  • Promoting awareness around technical assistance and professional development
  • Organizing and supporting collaboration
  • Disseminating new and important research in the field

Visit the Data for Decisions website to learn more.

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April 2, 2015

REL Southeast 2015 – Designing Data Systems for the Hard Questions: Data Elements and Structures for Effectively Assessing and Improving VirtualSC

My NEPC colleague, Luis Huerta, and I are here in Columbia, South Carolina to speak with the folks from VirtualSC on building effective data systems for K-12 online learning.  The event is organized by the Blended and Online Learning Research Alliance, which is a part of the Regional Educational Laboratory – Southeast.

March 30, 2015

Presentation: REL Southeast – Brief Overview of Research on Rural Students and Online Learning

A few minutes ago I finished speaking with folks that are a part of the Regional Education Laboratory – Southeast‘s Alliance for Online and Blended Learning about K-12 online learning and what we know about rural students.  Below you can find my slides from that session…

REL Southeast Director’s Email – March 2015

From Friday’s inbox…

The latest news and updates from the REL Southeast
at Florida State University
View this email in your browser
REL Southeast Email Header

Greetings from the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast!

Greetings from the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast! We’re pleased to announce the release of a new Applied Research Methods product, Comparing methodologies for developing an early warning system. This report, a companion piece to the previously published Using evidence-based decision trees instead of formulas to identify at-risk readers, compares and contrasts logistic regression and classification and regression tree (CART) analysis, two powerful predictive methods for identifying at-risk readers. We hope you find it useful in developing early warning systems. Further information on this recent product is listed below. We look forward to announcing more exciting REL Southeast products in the near future and as always, thank you for helping to improve education in the southeast.

Barbara Foorman, Ph.D.
Director, REL Southeast

Featured Product

Comparing methodologies for developing an early warning system

The purpose of this report was to explicate the use of logistic regression and classification and regression tree (CART) analysis in the development of early warning systems. It was motivated by state education leaders’ interest in maintaining high classification accuracy while simultaneously improving practitioner understanding of the rules by which students are identified as at-risk or not at-risk readers. Logistic regression and CART were compared using data on a sample of grades 1 and 2 Florida public school students who participated in both interim assessments and an end-of-the year summative assessment during the 2012/13 academic year. Grade-level analyses were conducted and comparisons between methods were based on traditional measures of diagnostic accuracy, including sensitivity (i.e., proportion of true positives), specificity (proportion of true negatives), positive and negative predictive power, and overall correct classification. Results indicate that CART is comparable to logistic regression, with the results of both methods yielding negative predictive power greater than the recommended standard of .90. Details of each method are provided to assist analysts interested in developing early warning systems using one of the methods.
A complete copy of the report may be viewed at

Upcoming Event

Designing Data Systems for the Hard Questions: Data Elements and Structures for Effectively Assessing and Improving VirtualSC
Thursday, April 2, 2015
10:00 AM3:30 PM EST
EdVenture Children’s Museum
Canal Room
211 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC 29201

Register by emailing Diana Sharp

The goals for this event are as follows:

  • Determine key objectives for enhancements to the data collection and reporting capabilities of South Carolina’s VirtualSC data system;
  • understand the limitations of many current data collection systems that researchers have studied; and
  • identify next steps for creating new data elements and structures that can dramatically increase the capability of VirtualSC’s data system.


  • Dr. Michael Barbour, Director of Doctoral Studies/National Education Policy Center Fellow, Sacred Heart University
  • Dr. Luis Huerta, Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy/National Education Policy Center Fellow, Teachers College – Columbia University

Contact Us

REL Southeast at Florida State University
2010 Levy Avenue
Suite 100
Tallahassee, FL 32310
This Director’s Email was developed by REL Southeast under Contract ED-IES-12-C-0011 from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences.  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.
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