Overviews

Arkansas Prekindergarten Research Alliance

This alliance seeks to examine factors related to improving the quality and effectiveness of the state's prekindergarten programs and their impact on children's school readiness and grade 3 success. Alliance work includes developing a research agenda, conducting research, and supporting the use of data and evidence to improve practice, policy, and student outcomes.

Latest Work Update: Spring 2017

During this quarter, the Arkansas Prekindergarten Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions and to plan and hold events. On March 21, the alliance sponsored a bridge event webinar titled "Leading the Way: How States Are Addressing Early Learning Under ESSA." Cohosted by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), this webinar provided resources and strategies for integrating early learning into state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including examples from state leaders in Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Washington.

On April 27, the alliance convened in Little Rock, Arkansas, for a quarterly meeting. The meeting included two workshops to build alliance members' capacity to access and use Arkansas and national resources to improve outcomes for preK students.

In the first workshop, REL Southwest staff demonstrated how to use GIS maps to visualize data and explore preK eligibility and availability in Arkansas. Members gained hands-on practice in specifying the timeframe and data elements (such as poverty, education attainment) to include in their maps. The GIS maps were developed as part of the alliance's PreK Participation and GIS Mapping project.

In the second workshop, alliance members learned how to use a custom resource tool to identify and access available data and research related to topics in the alliance's research agenda. Alliance members then discussed possible uses for the tool in their current work.

Members also received an update on the Alignment of the Arkansas Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) to Other Measures of PreK Teacher Performance technical assistance project. Staff are in the process of developing a matrix to compare and contrast TESS with two other widely used preschool evaluation instruments: the Early Childhood Environment Rating System (ECERS-R) and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS™).

Finally, members discussed networking opportunities and whether they will continue some or all aspects of the alliance's work after the current REL Southwest contract ends in November 2017.

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Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance

This alliance seeks to use data and evidence to examine and address important issues related to educator preparation and evaluation. Alliance work includes developing a research agenda, conducting research, and supporting the use of data and evidence to improve practice, policy, and student outcomes.

Latest Work Update: Spring 2017

During this quarter, the Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to discuss alliance projects and plan for upcoming meetings and events. Progress also continued on alliance projects. REL Southwest staff working on the Texas Teacher Supply and Demand technical assistance project began drafting a presentation to share the results with the alliance at an upcoming meeting. Staff also continued drafting the final reports for the Descriptive Study of Teacher Mobility in Texas and the Analysis of Data From the Pilot Implementation of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) study. Both reports are expected to be published later this year.

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English Learners Research Alliance

This alliance seeks to use data and evidence to understand problems of practice related to the diversity of English learners (ELs) and to explore the education programs and services that best meet EL students' needs. Alliance work includes developing a research agenda, conducting research, and supporting the use of data and evidence to improve education programs, practice, and policy related to English learners.

Latest Work Update: Spring 2017

During this quarter, the English Learners Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to discuss alliance projects and plan and hold events. The alliance is in the process of planning a virtual meeting for early August as well as an in-person meeting later in the year.

On March 2, the alliance convened via webinar for a quarterly meeting. The agenda included planning for an upcoming research-to-practice bridge event, updates on alliance projects, and whether members want to continue some or all aspects of the alliance's work after the current REL Southwest contract ends in November 2017.

On March 21, the alliance sponsored a bridge event webinar titled "Research Discussion: Studies on the Academic Progress of English Learners." The webinar spotlighted two recently released REL Northwest research studies on English learner students' time to reclassification and advanced course enrollment and performance.

During this quarter, staff also completed the Early Warning and Risk Prevention for English Learner Students project. This project provided three Texas school districts with individualized technical assistance on developing and using early warning systems to target English learner students at risk of falling behind academically or of dropping out. This assistance included building staff capacity in using longitudinal data and risk indicators to flag students early in the trajectory toward failing to meet specified benchmarks. At the next alliance meeting, the project team plans to share a presentation on this work, including speakers from one of the three districts involved.

In addition, staff continued drafting final reports for the Trends in the Identification and Provision of Services to Gifted and Talented English Learner Students in Texas technical assistance project, the Correlational Study of Teachers Assigned to English Learner Students in Houston Independent School District, and the Trajectories to Language Proficiency and Content-Area Mastery for Texas Hispanic Ever-English Learner Students study. These reports are expected to be published later this year.

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Louisiana Charter Schools Research Alliance

This alliance seeks to identify indicators of program quality and effectiveness among charter schools to inform charter school improvement in Louisiana. Alliance work includes developing a research agenda, conducting research, and supporting the use of data and evidence to improve practice, policy, and student outcomes.

Latest Work Update: Spring 2017

During this quarter, the Louisiana Charter Schools Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to discuss alliance projects and plan and hold meetings and events.

On March 29, the alliance convened at Lusher Charter School in New Orleans for a quarterly meeting. More than 25 participants from seven alliance member charter schools attended. Dr. Yvelyne Germain-McCarthy, an associate professor of mathematics education at the University of New Orleans, shared research on instructional strategies and best practices in mathematics, with a focus on reducing the state's mathematics achievement gap. Next, members learned how to use a custom resource tool to identify and access available data and research related to topics in the alliance's research agenda. Alliance members then engaged in three learning tasks to explore possible uses for the tool in their work.

On May 10, the alliance sponsored a research-to-practice bridge event in Baton Rouge on charter school authorization. Conducted in collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Education and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, the event included a presentation and workshop on research, policies, and practices to guide charter school authorization. An archived presentation from the event is available online.

Progress was also made on alliance projects, as REL Southwest staff continued to revise the final reports for the Key Indicator Study to Identify Promising Operational, Organizational, and Instructional Features of New Orleans Charter Schools and the Special Education Longitudinal Enrollment Study for Louisiana Public Charter Schools. Both reports are expected to be published later this year.

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New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance

This alliance seeks to use data and evidence to identify and understand factors that facilitate or impede progress in reducing achievement gaps among subpopulations of K–12 students in New Mexico. Alliance work includes developing a research agenda, conducting research, and supporting the use of data and evidence to improve practice, policy, and student outcomes.

Latest Work Update: Spring 2017

During this quarter, the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to discuss alliance projects and plan and hold events.

On April 26, the alliance convened in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a quarterly meeting. This meeting included training on the use of a custom tool for identifying and accessing available data and research related to topics in the alliance's research agenda. In addition, alliance members received presentations on two alliance studies:

REL Southwest staff are currently finalizing the reports for these studies, and alliance members from the New Mexico Legislative Education Study Committee and the New Mexico Public Education Department stated that the findings would be highly useful in their current work.

The meeting ended with progress updates on the final reports for the other two alliance studies: Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in New Mexico Students' Transitions to Grade 9 study and Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico study. Both reports are expected to be published later this year.

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New Mexico Prekindergarten Research Alliance

This alliance seeks to examine factors related to improving the quality and effectiveness of New Mexico’s prekindergarten programs and their impact on children’s school readiness and grade 3 success. Alliance work includes developing a research agenda, conducting research, and supporting the use of data and evidence to improve practice, policy, and student outcomes.

Latest Work Update: Spring 2017

During this quarter, the New Mexico Prekindergarten Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to discuss alliance projects and plan and hold events.

On March 21, the alliance sponsored a bridge event webinar titled "Leading the Way: How States Are Addressing Early Learning Under ESSA." Cohosted by the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), this webinar provided resources and strategies for integrating early learning into state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including examples from state leaders in Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Washington.

On May 31, the alliance convened via webinar for a quarterly meeting. The primary goal was to discuss the initial results of two alliance projects that analyzed the state's new kindergarten readiness assessment. The Kindergarten Observation Tool (KOT) Validation study assessed the validity and reliability of the new assessment. The New Mexico PreK Kindergarten Readiness technical assistance project compared the KOT to the Beginning of Year (BOY) Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) composite assessment. In addition, members discussed whether to continue some or all aspects of the alliance's work after the current REL Southwest contract ends in November 2017.

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Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance

This alliance seeks to investigate factors that affect rural school performance in Oklahoma. Alliance work includes developing a research agenda, conducting research, and supporting the use of data and evidence to improve practice, policy, and student outcomes.

Latest Work Update: Spring 2017

During this period, the Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance liaison and researchers communicated regularly with members to address questions and provide updates on alliance projects. In addition, staff continued finalizing the reports for the Indicator Study to Identify Promising Predictors of Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Oklahoma Rural Schools and the Measuring Teachers' Access to Professional Development Practices in Oklahoma by School Locale: A Descriptive Analysis. Both reports are expected to be published later this year.

REL Southwest staff, in collaboration with a team from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE), also collaboratively developed and delivered workshop materials for the
Building Capacity to Improve Professional Learning technical assistance project. This project is assisting OSDE staff in using the survey results from the Measuring Teachers' Access to Professional Development Practices analysis to inform the statewide implementation of new Oklahoma Professional Learning Standards for educators.

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Texas Hispanic STEM Research Alliance

This alliance seeks to examine and improve Texas Hispanic students’ participation, achievement, and advancement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses and careers. Alliance work includes developing a research agenda, conducting research, and supporting the use of data and evidence to improve practice, policy, and student outcomes.

Latest Work Update: Spring 2017

During this period, the alliance liaison and researchers communicated regularly with members to address questions and provide updates on alliance projects.

In March, staff held the first workshop for the Tracking Implementation of Strategies to Support Texas Hispanic STEM Students project. This workshop series is assisting alliance members in incorporating the findings from the Literature Review to Identify Indicators Related to Hispanic STEM Postsecondary Education Outcomes into the T-STEM (Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Blueprint Benchmarks. These benchmarks are used by 124 T-STEM Academies across the state.

In addition, staff continued finalizing the reports for the Texas Hispanic STEM Advanced Course Supply and Enrollment study and the Key Indicators Related to Postsecondary STEM Outcomes for Hispanic Students in Texas study. Both reports are expected to be published later this year.

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