REL Southwest's EL and PreK Work Showcased at National Principals Conference

REL Southwest hosted two sessions at the National Principals Conference in Philadelphia on July 9–10, 2017. The first highlighted our work assisting Texas districts in adapting early warning systems to identify at-risk English learner students. The second featured our work assisting Arkansas policymakers in developing a crosswalk to examine the alignment between three early childhood evaluation instruments.

Creating Early Warning System Indicators Specific to English Learners
July 9, 2017 | 9:00–10:15 a.m. ET

Early warning systems use readily available data and research-based indicators to identify students at risk of missing key education milestones. Standard indicators used to flag off-track students include attendance, behavior, course performance, and on-time promotion. But additional indicators are often needed to accurately monitor specific student populations, such as English learners (ELs).

60 percent of ELs are not reclassified after firve or mor years in U.S. schools (Olsen, 2010)

In this interactive session, REL Southwest researchers Ashley Simpson Baird, Ph.D., and Montrischa M. Williams, Ph.D., described how to build or adapt early warning systems to identify at-risk EL students. As a real-world example, the researchers drew on REL Southwest’s recent analytic technical support project assisting three Texas school districts in adapting their early warning systems, a project done in collaboration with our English Learners Research Alliance. Approximately 30 school leaders, including counselors and principals, attended the session.

Through a series of reflection exercises, participants considered indicators and outcomes that could help identify at-risk EL students in grades 1–12. After each exercise, the presenters shared relevant research as well as their experiences working with schools and districts. Using the Texas district data, the presenters then walked participants through the process of building or adapting an early warning system to target EL students. Participants received a template to guide this process. In closing, the group discussed how they might apply the process at their schools.

Alignment of the Arkansas Teacher Excellence and Support System to Other Measures of Prekindergarten Instructional and Classroom Quality
July 10, 2017 | 2:15–3:30 p.m. ET

School leaders often need to determine how different standards, curricula, or evaluation tools align. One effective method for doing so is a crosswalk analysis. In this interactive session, Angelica Herrera, Ph.D., REL Southwest researcher, and Janice Keizer, REL Southwest prekindergarten (preK) alliance liaison, described how to develop such a crosswalk.

As a real-world example, the presenters shared a crosswalk that REL Southwest created to show how Arkansas’s Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) aligns with two well-established preK evaluation tools: the Early Childhood Environment Rating System (ECERS-3) and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS™) PreK assessment. This project was done in collaboration with our Arkansas Prekindergarten Research Alliance.

To develop this crosswalk, REL Southwest reviewed the three instruments, comparing and contrasting their different elements. The team then created a matrix showing the alignment between TESS, ECERS‑3, and CLASS in terms of domains, dimensions, and criteria measured. The goal was to inform Arkansas policymakers about TESS’s potential as a measure of preK teacher performance.

The presenters walked participants through the process for developing a crosswalk, providing a series of examples. Participants then shared the preK evaluation tools their districts use and discussed their experiences with developing and using crosswalks. In closing, the presenters discussed the many types of documents and tools that can be compared using a crosswalk. For example, one participant shared how her district developed a crosswalk of special education curriculum and services.

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