Virtual School Meanderings

November 22, 2015

McREL e-News November 2015 | Change Is Refreshing!

Also from Friday’s inbox…

November 2015

A new look for and eNews
This month, McREL unveiled a major refresh of our website,, to help serve you better. The new site features a cleaner, simpler, mobile-friendly design that should make it easier to find information on the services we provide to schools, districts, states, and education systems across the U.S. and around the world. Aligning to that same goal, we’ve also updated the layout of this newsletter. We hope you like the new look!
“As we have refined McREL’s areas of expertise and service over the past few years, we are excited to have a website that reflects how we help teachers and leaders move the needle on their challenges—-regardless of what they are—-so that all students can flourish.”
Bryan Goodwin, President and CEO, McREL International

Research Roundup
Mining online data on struggling readers who catch up
The Hechinger Report
A recent report on the reading habits of 1.4 million 5th-grade students using an online software reading program showed that increasing reading time by as little as 4.7 minutes in the second half of the school year (to an average of 19 minutes per day) helped struggling readers reach the top 50% of readers in their grade by the end of the school year.

Learning English: Accountability, Common Core, and the college-for-all movement are transforming instruction

According to a Migration Policy Institute analysis of 2013 U.S. Census data, 9% of public school students are English-language learners (ELL), equivalent to nearly 5 million students. This articlelooks at the challenges, requirements, and outcomes of several ELL-focused programs and legislative acts at the federal and state levels, many of which have struggled to meet the learning needs of ELL students.

Is math anxiety always bad for math learning? The role of math motivation
Psychological Science

A new study by researchers from The Ohio State University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and their colleagues found that motivated students who experienced a moderate amount of math anxiety performed better on math tests than those who were not motivated, revealing a correlation between motivation, moderate math anxiety, and achievement.

Events & Opportunities

Monday, Nov. 30, 12:00-1:00 p.m. MST
In fields outside of education, a resolute focus on strengthening leadership talent contributes to a company’s bottom line and is worth the return on investment. In education, the returns of strong leadership can be found in improvements in instructional quality, higher levels of school and district productivity, and increases in student achievement.
In this American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) webinar featuring McREL consultants Tony Davis and Bess Scott, you’ll learn how to foster a clear talent development model in your school district that empowers leaders to take responsibility for their professional growth, performance, and accountability—-creating a workforce that is self-driven to achieve positive outcomes for all students.
Note: This webinar is provided free for AASPA members. Non-AASPA members who register and attend this webinar will be invoiced $25 following the event.

For more information and to register, please visit the AASPA’s webinar page.

Thursday, Dec. 3, 1:00-2:00 p.m. MST
What is it that makes some school leaders great? Why are some principals able to turn around their schools while others turn themselves around and walk away from their schools? Based on our analysis of decades of research and years of experience working with principals solving real problems, we’ve arrived at a simple answer: Balance.

In this ASCD webinar featuring McREL’s Bryan Goodwin, co-author of Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning: Tools for Achieving Success in Your School, you’ll learn about the three key roles a school leader must balance to be effective:

  • Visionary strategist—-providing a clear focus for improvement efforts
  • Optimistic change agent—-overcoming resistance to change by inspiring others to believe better outcomes are possible
  • Purpose-driven team builder—-developing strong communities where people share goals and an abiding sense of purpose
Goodwin will share practical strategies that self-professed “ordinary people” have used to become extraordinary leaders, turning what can be a nightmare job for some into their dream profession.

For more information and to register, please visit ASCD’s webinar registration page.

New Orleans, Louisiana, Dec. 2-5
Transforming Your Organization: Best Practice Meets Technology
Friday, Dec. 4, 10:45 a.m.
Visit us in Booth #406, and enter to win a 1-year subscription to our Solutions Portal (a $1,500 value) or a set of McREL books.
Join McREL consultant Lisa Maxfield and representatives from Macomb Intermediate School District in Michigan to learn how they transformed education for 150,000 students and 10,000 teachers by creating a common language about best-practice instruction and technology integration. They will also share a coaching model that improved teaching through collaborative walkthroughs and collegial conversations—-and was so successful, it is now being used statewide to improve tech readiness.
For more information, visit the AESA conference website.


Changing Schools | Technology with intention
Vol. 74, Fall 2015

While the use of some sort of technology is practically a given at most schools, many teachers and leaders still have questions about the best tools to use, the best way to use them, and whether or not they are serving the larger purpose of improved student performance. This issue of Changing Schools looks at these issues and how using technology, as with any tool, can enhance instruction, engage students, and teach important 21st century skills—-if used with intention. Read Changing Schools.

Blog Post | The 2015 homestretch!
On BOOST Collaborative’s “Breakfast Club” blog, Tara Donahue, managing researcher and evaluator at McREL, offers a year-end to-do list for educators, which focuses on activities that reduce stress around the holiday season and prepare you for a fresh start in 2016. Read her blog post.

Research Says | Mindsets are key to effective data use

In the November issue of ASCD’s Educational Leadership, McREL’s president and CEO, Bryan Goodwin, dives into the power of mindsets and school culture in using data to guide improvements. He cites examples of both effective and ineffective data use among teachers and leadership teams, noting that “what teams see in data says a lot about their mindsets about students and schooling.” Read Bryan’s column.


What does computer programming have in common with school district planning?

In this guest post for Education Week‘s “Leadership 360” blog, Superintendent Jay Harnack from Sublette County School District #1 in Pinedale, Wyoming, shares how he, his board of education, and his principals and teachers improved student achievement through an integrated district improvement approach that included McREL’s Balanced Leadership research-based leadership framework. “All of our administrators were trained in the leadership framework, and this created a common language and understanding of leadership practices, which we could then align to any given improvement initiative,” he writes. Read his blog post.

Client Testimonial
“We are grateful for McREL’s experience and knowledge… They made our processes organized and efficient, with great data analysis and assistance to our stakeholders.”
Dr. Brent Bacon, Chief Academic Officer, Wyoming Department of Education
Follow on Twitter
Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List
Follow McREL
on social media
Follow us on Twitter  View our profile on LinkedIn  Like us on Facebook  View our videos on YouTube
McREL International
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
Copyright © 2015, McREL International. All Rights Reserved.

Forward this email to a colleague
This email was sent to by
McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500 | Denver | CO | 80237

November 19, 2015

You Are Invited! Upcoming Events Sponsored By The REL Program

Note the K-12 online learning webinar listed below…

Institute of Education Sciences - Newsflash

You are Invited! Upcoming Events Sponsored by the REL Program

WebinarsBridgeeventsThe REL Program is hosting many virtual and in-person events across the country in November. Registration is free and all are welcome to attend. Can’t make it to a virtual event? Register below to be notified when a recording of the webinar is available. For more details and registration information, see the IES Calendar. Invite a friend and join us at one or more of the following:

Teaching Math to Young Children: Hands-On Workshop (IN-PERSON EVENT)
November 16, 2015, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CT
Austin, TX

Join REL Southwest for a free in-person workshop on applying evidence-based methods for teaching math to children in preschool and kindergarten. Gain hands-on experience in applying the five evidence-based recommendations in theTeaching Math to Young Children practice guide, produced by the What Works Clearinghouse™. Sharon M. Carver, director of Carnegie Mellon’s Children’s School and one of the guide’s authors, will engage participants in activities to increase young children’s knowledge, literacy, and competency in mathematics. Key topics covered will include: instructional practices for teaching math to children ages 3 to 5; how to increase young children’s awareness of mathematical concepts in everyday life; how to encourage children to describe math ideas around them through the use of informal, and gradually formal, representations and language; and ways to build young children’s math vocabulary.

Increasing Educator Effectiveness With Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning(WEBINAR)
November 17, 2015, 1:00-2:30 p.m. PT (4:00-5:30 p.m. ET)

As schools and communities become more diverse, there is a growing recognition of the need to embed students’ home cultures into a rigorous curriculum that promotes student achievement and expands opportunities for parent and community involvement. Culturally responsive, standards-based (CRSB) teaching can help schools and districts—especially those that serve students from diverse and/or low-income families—accomplish these goals. But what does CRSB teaching look like in practice? How can we promote and support it? And, how can it be incorporated into educator effectiveness systems? This REL Northwestwebinar will provide evidence on the benefits of CRSB education practices and strategies for making them a reality. Participants will hear from the current Oregon Teacher of the Year about innovative approaches to CRSB instruction, as well as lessons learned from state and local leaders who have been involved in incorporating CRSB teaching into an educator evaluation system. District and school administrators, teachers, teacher leaders, and other stakeholders interested in incorporating cultural components into educator effectiveness systems will find this webinar most relevant.

Professional Development for Online Teachers: How the Current Practice Reflects Existing Standards (WEBINAR)
November 18, 2015, 3:00-4:00 p.m. CT

Join REL Midwest for a webinar on professional development for online teachers and how current virtual education practices reflect the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) standards and the National Standards for Quality Online Teaching developed by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). Representatives from a selection of virtual schools in the Midwest will provide on-the-ground examples of incorporating these standards into professional development for their teachers. In the absence of rigorous research about online teacher professional development, these standards provide information about what is recommended for high quality instruction and inform the content of professional development for online teachers. This webinar is designed for virtual education program administrators and educators, district personnel currently using online courses, and those interested in expanding students’ access to online learning activities.

Overcoming Challenges to Effectively Use Data in Rural Schools (WEBINAR)
November 18, 2015, 2:30-4:00 p.m. PT (5:30-7:00 p.m. ET)

Rural schools face unique challenges in using data for decisionmaking, including capacity limitations and small sample sizes. How do schools overcome these challenges? What lessons can we learn from rural school leaders who are effectively using data to improve education outcomes for students? This REL Northwest webinar will feature Dr. Randy Trani from Corbett (OR) School District and Dr. Jayne Downey from Montana State University. Dr. Trani will share how he is overcoming data use challenges at his school district, and Dr. Downey will speak about her work with rural schools in Montana who are working together to analyze district data and build their data literacy skills. Speakers will provide examples of how to successfully use data for decisionmaking and maximize limited resources for gathering and reporting data.

The Regional Educational Laboratory program offers opportunities for educators and policymakers to learn about strategies for improving student achievement based on the most credible, up-to-date research. To learn more about the REL program and research alliances, visit To receive regular updates on REL work, follow NCEE on Twitter: @IES_NCEE. To provide feedback on this or other REL work,

You have received this message because you subscribed to a newsflash service through IES or one of its centers.

By visiting Newsflash you may also sign up to receive information from IES and its four Centers NCES, NCER, NCEE, & NCSER to stay abreast of all activities within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

To obtain hard copy of many IES products as well as hard copy and electronic versions of hundreds of other U.S. Department of Education products please visit or call 1-877-433-7827 (877-4-EDPUBS).

November 6, 2015

REL Southeast Director’s Email – October 2015

Note that this “October” newsletter didn’t show up in my inbox until 04 November…

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 recent updates to our repository of Ask A REL responses. Ask A REL is a collaborative reference desk service provided by the regional educational laboratories that by design, functions much in the same way as a technical reference library. It provides references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations on research based education questions.

Our new Ask A REL response webpage now features category and keyword search functions, making it faster and easier to find relevant and research-based answers to your educational questions. We invite you to explore the new tool, which is available at

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


Barbara Foorman, Ph.D.
Director, REL Southeast

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.

October 24, 2015

McREL e-News October 2015 || Sharing ways to help students flourish

From yesterday’s inbox…

October 2015

Student engagement: Making a difference, one student at a time  
What does it take to get students more engaged in the classroom? Let’s talk about it!
Join us for a 45-minute Twitter Chat, moderated byCheryl Abla, and share your thoughts on classroom engagement. We hope you’ll join us!
Making a difference, one student at a time
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
7:00 p.m. (MST)
Questions to consider
  • What do your students remember most about you as a teacher?
  • Why is it important to engage and connect with your students?
  • What classroom projects have you observed that kept students highly engaged?
If you need a partner to help your improvement initiatives soar, call us at 800.858.6830 or email us today!

Research Roundup

Best foot forward project: Substituting teacher-collected video for in-person classroom observations  
Center for Education Policy Research, Harvard University
A year-long study of 347 teachers and 108 administrators in four states, conducted by Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research, revealed that teachers who controlled their own recordings of classroom lessons for observation found the process more fair and were more self-critical than those who were observed in person by an administrator. Additionally, administrators were just as able to identify strong and weak teachers in both teacher groups.

Report: School environment listening sessions
White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHIAIANE), U.S. Department of Education
After conducting nine listening sessions with more than 1,000 attendees in seven states across the U.S., the WHIAIANE made several recommendations related to school climate in American Indian and Alaska Native communities in a final report. Among the recommendations for states and districts, the report calls for the support and preservation of Native American languages; culturally responsive, restorative justice discipline policies; and promotion of culturally accurate instruction of Native American history.

K-12 education: Most eighth grade students are not proficient in geography
United States Government Accountability Office (GAO)
For this study, the GAO analyzed National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) data from 8th grade geography assessments, and found that three-quarters of 8th grade students fell below the level of proficiency, and that average test scores have plateaued since the assessment was first administered 1994.

High school graduation rates are on the rise in most states
The Washington Post
Preliminary state data from 2014 shows the U.S. graduation rate has risen for the third consecutive year, up from 81% in 2013. While nationwide 2014 data is not available yet, 36 states are reporting an increase, with only five states and the District of Columbia reporting decreases.

Events and Opportunities

Connect with us at the following conferences
Our staff and partners will present at the following conferences:
National Dropout Prevention Network Conference in San Antonio, Texas, Oct. 25-28. Follow the hashtag #NDPCn on social media for updates.
Learning Forward Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., Dec. 5-9. Follow the conference hashtag #LearnFwd15 on social media for updates.


ALL for all: Reviving academic language in classroom conversation
In her latest post on the McREL Blog, Jane Hill examines the instructional practice of academic language development, noting that teacher-student and student-student discourse is a key instructional strategy that builds academic language skills for all students, not just English-language learners. She says that teaching all students to “sound like a book” helps deepen comprehension of both content and concepts.

RtI, PBIS, and MTSS: An evolution, a revolution, or roses by other names?
What is the difference between Response to Intervention (RtI), Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS)?Adena Miller explains how these student-learning supports have evolved since the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) in 2004, and how each of these support frameworks offers a different, and sometimes complementary, approach to the others.


Research Says: Promising, but incomplete, results for mindfulness
In his latest Research Says column in ASCD’sEducational Leadershipmagazine, Bryan Goodwin, McREL’s president and CEO, looks at what the research says about the benefits of teaching mindfulness to students and whether it affects achievement. He writes, “Improving social-emotional outcomes may not require complex approaches but may be possible with something as simple as brief meditation sessions, which themselves could be an antidote to the ‘busyness’ of school life.”

Balanced Leadership book helps school leaders go the distance
Learn how a balanced approach—-melding purposeful change with continuous maintenance—-makes school leaders more effective in implementing three fundamental components of leadership: a clear focus on issues that matter most, managing change to improve your school, and creating a sense of investment in student outcomes among teachers and staff.
Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning: Tools for Achieving Success in Your School (ASCD, 2015), by McREL’s Bryan Goodwin and independent education consultant Greg Cameron, with McREL’s Heather Hein, describes the leadership practices that are proven to positively affect student achievement. Order your copy today!

PD tools available for you, right when you need them
Your time is valuable. Now you can easily access PD resources 24/7/365. Our Solutions Portal is an online toolkit of resources to help strengthen your in-house PD, and save you time and money.
The McREL Solutions Portal gives district staff direct access to select, research-based professional development resources created by McREL, including training materials, presentations, videos, activity and planning guides, and much more. These resources address a wide scope of subjects–from instructional strategies and leadership development to educational technology, formative assessment, and math and science education–to help teachers and leaders hone their professional practice and support higher levels of student growth. We update the Portal monthly, with new tools and materials that supplement the consulting and training we offer to schools and districts.

Connect with Us on Social Media

For the latest in PD opportunities, blog posts, education news, and research, 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
REL Pacific on Twitter 
Follow @RELPacific
on Twitter for the latest on education research, the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, and Institute of Education Sciences projects in the Pacific region, plus engaging infographics, videos, and more.
North Central Comprehensive Center on Twitter
Follow NorthCentralCCon Twitter for updates on work with state education agencies in Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
We’re hiring!
Follow @McRELJobs
on Twitter to view our current job openings.

“McREL has never failed to provide us with innovative ideas, training, and resources.”
-Jennifer Parker-Moore
Macomb Intermediate School District, Michigan
“We are grateful for McREL’s experience and knowledge… great data analysis and assistance to stakeholders.”
-Brent Bacon
Wyoming Department
of Education
McREL International | 1.800.858.6830 | Fax 303.337.3005
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
Forward this email
This email was sent to by
McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500 | Denver | CO | 80237

October 6, 2015

Report: Comparing Success Rates for General and Credit Recovery Courses Online and Face to Face: Results for Florida High School Courses

I wanted to highlight this item from yesterday’s REL Southeast Director’s Email – September 2015.

Comparing Success Rates for General and Credit Recovery Courses Online and Face to Face: Results for Florida High School Courses

This report describes the results of a REL Southeast study comparing student success in online credit recovery and general courses taken online compared to traditional face-to-face courses. Credit recovery occurs when a student fails a course and then retakes the same course to earn high school credit. This research question was motivated by the high use of online learning in the Southeast, particularly as a method to help students engage in credit recovery. Read the report at:

Next Page »

The Rubric Theme. Blog at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,966 other followers