Virtual School Meanderings

May 25, 2016

McREL e-News May 2016 | How Will You Flourish This Summer?

Also from yesterday’s inbox…

May 2016

Celebrating fifty years of helping students 
and educators flourish
Fifty years ago this June, McREL opened its doors as an educational research laboratory dedicated to bridging the gap between research and practice. In the decades since, our organization has evolved and expanded, but our core focus remains: To provide research and guidance that help educators and students succeed and flourish. We’ll continue our mission as we look forward to the next 50 years of serving educators.
Join us for exceptional summer PD
As summer approaches, we invite you to join us in Denver for a series of PD institutes on effective teaching and leading. We’ll share our best insights, research, and strategies to help you transform your classrooms, schools, and districts.

Visit our events page to view the complete lineup of PD sessions and register.

Research Roundup

Local education inequities across U.S. revealed in new Stanford data set
Stanford University

Researchers at Stanford University reviewed test score data from 40 million 3rd- through 8th-grade students over four years to identify and compare achievement gaps. The researchers found that nearly all U.S. school districts with substantial minority populations have large achievement gaps between their white and black and white and Hispanic students. Researchers also studied the relationships among academic achievement, segregation, geography, and resource allocation.

The best school violence prevention program may start with raising test scores, study shows
The Hechinger Report

Researchers from the University of Southern California and Bar Ilan University in Israel looked for links between school climate, school violence, and student achievement, and found a connection between higher academic achievement and reduction in school violence, concluding that achievement gains preceded improvements in school safety, and not the other way around.

Parents, teachers, students split on overtesting
THE Journal

A recent Gallup poll of 4,200 educators, parents, and students showed that parents and students view formative and interim assessments more favorably than educators do. All three groups valued the benefits of classroom tests and quizzes more than state-run standardized assessments. As for the amount of time spent on assessments, while most teachers (83 percent) said they think students spend too much time on tests, most students and parents disagreed, with a majority of both groups saying students were spending the right amount of time or not enough time on assessments.

Curiosity about a topic helps learners retain new information and incidental knowledge

New research on parts of the brain that are involved in learning revealed that people retain more information when learning about topics that pique their curiosity, and that curiosity-based learning activates the same dopamine-releasing neural networks in the brain as activities that are intrinsically rewarding.

Events & Opportunities

Conference Session | ISTE National Conference
Denver, Colorado, Jun. 26-29
Join McREL consultant Cheryl Abla for a conference session, “Best Tech Tools for Formative Assessment,” to discover online tools and applications elementary teachers can use to check for student understanding while maximizing student engagement—-including how to help students create their own online assessments tools to help them check for understanding. Also, visit our business partners in the exhibit hall for information on our Power Walkthrough classroom observation system (Media-X Systems booth), and an online tool for improving leadership skills, change management skills, and initiative success based on our Balanced Leadership research and training program (BrightBytes booth). Learn more and register.

Conference Session | NAESP National Conference
National Harbor, Maryland, Jul. 6-8
Join Dr. Grace Gutierrez for her session, “Leveraging Balanced Leadership Research for Effective Change Management,” and learn how to predict potential obstacles to changes in schools and proactively develop and implement plans to achieve better results. Participants will gain insights on effectively initiating, monitoring, and leading change by applying McREL’s four phases of change: Creating Demand, Implementing, Monitoring and Evaluating, and Managing Personal Transitions.Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Balanced Leadership® Institute for School-Level Leaders
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 18-21
Learn the leadership responsibilities that research shows are most strongly connected to student achievement. You’ll receive practical strategies you can use in your school to develop a purposeful and positive school community, initiate and manage change within your school, and choose the right focus for your school’s improvement initiatives. If you cannot attend all four days, you can register for individual days of your choice. Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Balanced Leadership Institute for District-Level Leaders
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 21-22
Explore the district-level leadership activities and behaviors that research shows are most connected to student and staff success, and how these leadership responsibilities apply to the actions of superintendents, school boards, and central office staff. We’ll share the principles of high-reliability systems and the actions used in healthcare, aviation, and other complex industries, and how these principles can be effectively applied to education systems. Learn more and register.

Conference Sessions | Annual CASE Convention
Breckenridge, Colorado, Jul. 25-29
Join McREL staff at the Colorado Association of School Executives’ annual leadership conference for two presentations:
Bryan Goodwin will lead a session on unleashing student and teacher potential, revealing the leadership keys to shifting to an “inside-out” improvement approach that taps teachers’ intrinsic motivation to get better every day and focuses on a powerful driver of success: student curiosity.

Matt Seebaum will present a high-reliability approach to system improvement and leadership development, offering a model and examples of districts that have successfully connected the principles of High Reliability Organizations (HROs) and Improvement Cycles with a focus on developing leadership at all levels. Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Classroom Instruction That Works® | Workshop
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 25-27
Learn research-based, practice-proven instructional strategies and ways to implement them in the classroom. Discover how each strategy can be effective with any student, at any grade level, and in any subject area, to enhance student achievement.
  • Learn new, evidence-based insights from the most recent, rigorous research
  • Get a framework to strengthen instructional design
  • Discover the reasons for choosing certain strategies for certain situations
  • Connect the strategies to essential 21st century skills

Whether the strategies are new to you or something you already use every day, this workshop will help you raise your level of effectiveness. Learn more and register.

Summer PD | Classroom Instruction That Works | Authorized Facilitator Training
Denver, Colorado, Jul. 25-29
Attend our Classroom Instruction That Works (CITW) workshop and authorized facilitator training to learn effective research-based instructional strategies and methods to help other teachers learn and implement these strategies in their classrooms. The first three days of this training will solidify your understanding of the nine CITW categories of instructional strategies and an instructional planning framework that maximizes the strategies’ effectiveness. The final two days will prepare you to become an authorized facilitator of CITW workshops in your own district or region. Learn more and register.

Podcast | TLTalkRadio interviews Bryan Goodwin on inside-out reform and the role of curiosity in learning
An interview with McREL President and CEO Bryan Goodwin is featured in the latest episode of TLTalkRadio, a weekly podcast focused on leading schools in the digital age. Hosts Lynn Fuini-Hetten and Randy Ziegenfuss talk to Bryan about the future of education, inside-out reform, and McREL’s two most recent whitepapers, The Road Less Traveled and Rebalancing Formative Assessment. Learn more and listen to the podcast.

Research Says | Evaluating and improving: Not the same thing
In recent years, annual performance reviews for teachers have become ubiquitous. But do teacher evaluations make a difference in how teachers teach? Do they really help teachers improve? McREL’s Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein look at the research to answer those questions in this month’s Research Says column in Educational Leadership.

Blog Post | GreenSTEM Model: Steps for an instructional approach
You’ve heard of STEM, but have you heard of GreenSTEM? In this blog post from Laura Arndt, she describes the GreenSTEM Model, and how GreenSTEM projects can deepen students’ understanding of STEM concepts by directly addressing environmental challenges within students’ communities.


Executive director of Alabama ASCD highlights Balanced Leadership book
In the May 2016 newsletter of the Alabama state chapter of ASCD, Executive Director Jane Cobia reflects on the balancing act required of educators, highlighting the insights she’s gained from McREL’s Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning: Tools for Achieving Success in Your School. The book, Dr. Cobia says, provides “clear research-based data to help us navigate and hopefully increase teacher and student learning” by reminding us that “balance is the key to everything.”Read the entire column.

McREL helps Nebraska update science standards
A recent article from the Omaha World-Herald (on highlighted the work of the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) in updating the state’s science standards, including partnering with McREL to compare existing standards with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). McREL’s analysis showed content was similar but that the NGSS goes “deeper,” indicating the opportunity for NDE to raise the rigor and complexity of its standards statewide. Read the entire article.
Client Testimonial
“Once the Instructional Planning Framework model clicked for me, a flood of ideas came to me on how to implement procedures to create a LEARNING environment for my students.”
Monica Kahe, Teacher, Hopi Jr./Sr. High School, Arizona
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May 14, 2016

High-Impact Summer PD For Teachers And Leaders

From Thursday’s inbox…

Make real changes in teaching, leading, 
and learning outcomes.
Join us in Denver this summer for PD workshops and institutes
to gain insights and best-practice strategies that you can use immediately in your school or district.
Balanced Leadership® Institute | School-Level Leaders
July 18-21, 2016
Change is hard. Or it’s easy. Or both at the same time. Point is, people affected by change don’t all react the same way, and they need different support and guidance to make the change successful. As a school leader or district administrator, there will be times when you’ll need to be directive with your approach, and other times when you’ll need to empower others to take charge. Join us in July to learn the keys to initiating and managing change in your school or district.
Register for the entire four-day institute or for the individual days of your choice.
Balanced Leadership Overview | Monday, July 18
Managing Change | Tuesday, July 19
The Focus of Leadership | Wednesday, July 20
Developing a Purposeful Community | Thursday, July 21
Balanced Leadership® Institute |
District-Level Leaders
July 21-22, 2016
Healthcare and aviation are complex industries that use high-reliability organization (HRO) principles to maximize performance and innovation while reducing crucial mistakes. Education systems are just as complex—-so can we use these HRO processes? Absolutely. Join us in July for two powerful days of learning how to adapt HRO and short-cycle innovation practices for use in education to improve instructional quality, reliability, and innovation across your district.
Classroom Instruction
That Works®  | Workshop
July 25-27 2016
Perfect for K-12 educators in all subject areas, staff developers, curriculum instructors, and building administrators, this three-day workshop will show you research-based, practice-proven instructional strategies and ways to implement them in the classroom. Discover how each strategy can be effective with any student, at any grade level, in any subject area, to enhance student achievement.
  • Learn new, evidence-based insights from the most recent, rigorous research
  • Get a framework to strengthen instructional design
  • Discover the reasons for choosing certain strategies for certain situations
  • Connect the strategies to essential 21st century skills
Whether the strategies are new to you or something you already use every day, this workshop will help you raise your level of effectiveness.
Become a Classroom Instruction That Works (CITW) Authorized Facilitator
If you’re interested in becoming a registered facilitator of CITW training in your district, extend your CITW workshop another two days. You’ll learn effective research-based instructional strategies and methods to help other teachers learn and implement these strategies in their classrooms.
Motivate. Lead. Achieve.
High impact professional development for teachers and leaders.
Non-profit education research, development, consulting, and services.
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McREL International
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, Colorado 80237
McREL, 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500, Denver, CO 80237

May 7, 2016

REL Southeast Director’s Email – April 2016

Also from Thursday’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!

We are pleased to announce the release of two new products, Self-study Guide for Implementing Early Literacy Interventionsand Can scores on an interim high school reading assessment accurately predict low performance on college readiness exams? More information regarding these research-based publications may be found in this email, on our website,, and the IES website,

We look forward to delivering additional insightful, research-based products and resources in the future, and as always, thank you for helping to improve education in the Southeast.


Barbara Foorman, Ph.D.
Director, REL Southeast

Recent Product

Self-study Guide for Implementing Early Literacy Interventions

The Self-study Guide for Implementing Early Literacy Interventions is a tool to help district and school-based practitioners conduct self-studies for planning and implementing early literacy interventions for kindergarten, grade1 and grade 2 students. This guide is designed to promote reflection about current strengths and challenges in planning for implementation of early literacy interventions, spark conversations among staff, and identify areas for improvement. This self-study guide provides a template for data collection and guiding questions for discussion.

Download the guide at:

Contact Us

REL Southeast at Florida State University
2010 Levy Avenue, Suite 100
Tallahassee, FL 32310

Recent Product

Can scores on an interim high school reading assessment accurately predict low performance on college readiness exams?

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between measures of reading comprehension, decoding, and language with college-ready performance. This research was motivated by leaders in two Florida school districts interested in the extent to which performance on Florida’s interim reading assessment could be used to identify students who may not perform well on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) and ACT Plan. One of the districts primarily administers the PSAT/NMSQT and the other primarily administers the ACT Plan. Data included the 2013/14 PSAT/NMSQT or ACT Plan results for students in grade 10 from these districts, as well as their grade 9 results on the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading – Florida Standards (FAIR-FS). Classification and regression tree (CART) analyses formed the framework for an early warning system of risk for each PSAT/NMSQT and ACT Plan subject-area assessment. PSAT/NMSQT Critical Reading performance is best predicted in the study sample by a student’s reading comprehension skills, while PSAT/NMSQT Mathematics and Writing performance is best predicted by a student’s syntactic knowledge. Syntactic knowledge is the most important predictor of ACT Plan English, Reading, and Science in the study sample, whereas reading comprehension skills were found to best predict ACT Plan Mathematics results. Sensitivity rates (the percentage of students correctly identified as at risk) ranged from 81 percent to 89 percent correct across all of the CART models. These results provide preliminary evidence that FAIR-FS scores could be used to create an early warning system for performance on both the PSAT/NMSQT and ACT Plan. The potential success of using FAIR-FS scores as an early warning system could enable districts to identify at-risk students without adding additional testing burden, time away from instruction, or additional cost. The analyses should be replicated statewide to verify the stability of the models and the generalizability of the results to the larger Florida student population.

Read the report at:

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.

May 4, 2016

Equity | First-Graders’ Math | Talent and Turnaround

From today’s inbox…

WestEd E-Bulletin
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Monthly highlights of WestEd’s research, resources, services, and events to help all learners succeed in school and career.

R&D Alert Online

SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS, & STATE EDUCATION SYSTEMSPutting Equity at the Center — Q&A with WestEd’s Rose Owens-West

The Region IX Equity Assistance Center (EAC) helps educators ensure that all students — regardless of race, gender, or national origin — receive the resources to thrive and succeed academically. Learn how the Region IX EAC provides highly effective services in pursuit of its mission.

Also, check out the new print edition of R&D Alert. Topics include partnering with families to boost early learning, digital media that improves math learning, and 21st century assessments that provide deeper understanding.

REL West Research Digest

SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS, & STATE EDUCATION SYSTEMSREL West Research Digest: Timely Research-Based Responses to Pressing Education Questions

Through the national Ask A REL network, the REL West Reference Desk produces quick turnaround memos in response to questions from the field about any number of education topics. Learn more about this free service.

Teacher Evaluation and Professional Learning

Teacher Evaluation and Professional Learning: New Research

This REL Northeast & Islands study helps to illustrate the need for greater coherence between teacher evaluation and teacher professional learning. Download the report to read the research findings and more.

Using Federal Education Forumula Funds for School Turnaround Initiatives

SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS, & STATE EDUCATION SYSTEMSUsing Federal Education Formula Funds for School Turnaround Initiatives: New Resource

State education agency leaders and staff can consult this new handbook to help districts and schools maximize federal formula funds to support school turnaround efforts.


First-Graders’ Math Knowledge Increases with PBS KIDS’ ODD SQUAD: New Research

WestEd research shows that content from the PBS KIDS’ ODD SQUAD series helps children from low-income families boost their knowledge of numbers and operations, and algebraic thinking. Read the new research report.

The Center on School Turnaround

SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS, & STATE EDUCATION SYSTEMSTalent and Turnaround: Support for Systemic Change — New Event

Join the Center on School Turnaround to help launch the Equitable Access and School Turnaround Professional Learning Network. June 15-17, Houston, TX. Learn more.

American Indian/Alaska Native Students and the New Standards

STANDARDS, ASSESSMENT, & ACCOUNTABILITYAmerican Indian/Alaska Native Students & the New Standards

Learn how the Common Core State Standards could impact American Indian/Alaska Native students and how to implement the standards to increase college and/or career success for this student population. Download the report.

Math in Common

STANDARDS, ASSESSMENT, & ACCOUNTABILITYCommon Core State Standards & Site-Based Teacher Learning Structures

What does site-based, lesson-focused teacher professional learning in the Common Core era look like? Read about the experiences of four school districts, including lessons learned and plans for the future.

student and teacher at chalk board

SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS, & STATE EDUCATION SYSTEMSEnhancing the Effectiveness of Education Systems at All Levels

From improving education outcomes to assisting in/supporting school transformation, WestEd partners with schools, districts, and state education agencies to build capacity and create highly effective learning organizations.

Visit our Schools, Districts, & State Education Systems page to learn about our services, research, and resources.

WestEd Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence

AGENCY NEWSWestEd Celebrating 50 Years

A National Science Foundation study found that students whose teachers participated in WestEd’s Making Sense of SCIENCE training outperformed their peers by 40 percent. Read about this and more WestEd historical milestones on ourCelebrating 50 Years of Excellence page.

In addition, download WestEd 2015 Year in Review and read about our agency’s impact over the past year.

Resource SpotlightResource Spotlight

Data Literacy for Educators

Data Literacy for Educators — Making It Count in Teacher Preparation and Practice: 30% Discount!

Designed for schools of education, professional developers, and school districts, this new resource illustrates how data can be used to improve teacher practice at all levels of professional growth. Order your copy today.

WestEd at Events

WestEd at Events

Join us at national and local events. Browse our up-to-date calendar!

WestEd 50 Years - Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence

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Copyright © 2016 WestEd. All rights reserved WestEd, 730 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

April 29, 2016

Changing Schools | Turning Improvement Inside Out | Vol. 75/Spring 2016

From yesterday’s inbox…

Turning improvement inside out 
What would happen if educators tried to improve schools not from the top down but from the inside out? This issue of Changing Schools builds on McREL’s white paper, The Road Less Traveled: Changing Schools from the Inside Out(2015), considering the implications of a curiosity-based approach, including articles on formative assessment, professional learning, systems improvement, school culture, and project- and maker-based learning.
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