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: Fall 2016

During this quarter, the Arkansas Prekindergarten Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions and concerns and to plan and hold events.

On September 14, REL Southwest and the Office for Education Policy at the University of Arkansas co-hosted a bridge event conference, titled "Unlocking Key Challenges Facing Arkansas' Schools," in Little Rock, Arkansas. Conference sessions focused on evidence-based practices related to high-quality prekindergarten programs, rural education, and instruction for diverse learners, with an emphasis on Arkansas.

In addition, staff continued revising the data summary and GIS maps for the Arkansas PreK Participation Study and GIS Mapping analytic technical support project.

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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: Fall 2016

On September 15, the Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance's Planning-Leadership Team met to review the status of alliance projects, discuss proposed projects, and plan for upcoming alliance meetings and events.

On October 19, REL Southwest and the alliance hosted a bridge event webinar titled "Student Learning Objectives: Lessons Learned and Next Steps." This event presented district, state, and national perspectives on the use of student learning objectives under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The archive for the webinar is available online.

Progress also continued on alliance projects. Staff began preliminary analysis for the Texas Teacher Supply and Demand technical assistance project, completed data analysis for the Descriptive Study of Teacher Mobility in Texas, and made revisions to the final report for the Analysis of Data from the Pilot Implementation of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) study to address IES feedback.

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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: Fall 2016

During this quarter, the English Learners Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions and concerns and to plan and hold events.

On November 14, alliance members participated in a blended meeting—attending virtually and in person—in Austin, Texas. Former alliance liaison, Linda Cavazos, and new liaison, Dalia Zabala, co-facilitated the meeting. Nine members and six REL Southwest staff participated. Veronica Ruiz de Castilla, principal investigator on the Correlational Study of Teachers Assigned to English Learner Students in Houston Independent School District, presented information about the study.

At the same meeting, Dr. Cavazos and Zabala presented information about three key Texas teacher preparation programs' admission and completion requirements for English learner (EL) teachers. Members then discussed the programs' commonalities and limitations in effectively preparing teacher candidates to meet the needs of EL students. Alliance members received additional project updates before the meeting adjourned.

With the school year well underway, district staffing changes led to some changes in the alliance membership. Three members moved on, while five new members joined: Karina Chapa, Chelsea Cornelius, Sonia Domingues, David Kauffman, and Aline Orr. Welcome new members!

Work continued on alliance projects as well. REL Southwest received approval to begin a new project, Trends in the Identification and Provision of Services to Gifted and Talented English Learner Students in Texas. This study will examine the identification of gifted/talented (GT) EL students in Texas public elementary schools over six school years. The study will also identify promising GT program models and interventions. The findings will inform ongoing state efforts to increase the representation of special populations in GT programs.

Staff moved forward with facilitating a Community of Practice (CoP) and providing individualized technical support to districts participating in the Early Warning and Risk Prevention for EL Students project. In addition, staff made revisions based on IES review to the final reports for 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.

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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: Fall 2016

During this quarter, the Louisiana Charter Schools Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions, discuss projects, and plan for future meetings and events.

On October 18, REL Southwest staff facilitated a policy and practice roundtable discussion at the 44th International Society for Educational Planning Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The focus of the discussion centered on the alliance's Louisiana Student Privacy Policy Technical Assistance project, which was completed this quarter.

In addition, REL Southwest staff made revisions based on IES review to the final report for the Key Indicator Study to Identify Promising Operational, Organizational, and Instructional Features of New Orleans Charter Schools and completed data analysis and began drafting the final report for the Special Education Longitudinal Enrollment Study for Louisiana Public Charter Schools.

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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: Fall 2016

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

Progress continued on the alliance projects. Staff working on the study Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in New Mexico Students' Transitions to Grade 9 received final outcome data for nine of the districts. Staff working on the study Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico continued to collect Spanish proficiency data from five districts that serve a majority of the state's Spanish-speaking English learner students. Staff also made revisions based on IES review to the final reports for the New Mexico Achievement Gap Course-Taking Patterns study and the Descriptive Study of New Mexico's New High School Graduation Assessment and Course Requirements.

On November 8, Carmen Martinez, the research alliance liaison, and Ada Muoneke, the research alliance manager, co-facilitated an alliance meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Brenda Arellano, alliance researcher, presented information about the alliance project Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico. In addition, alliance members received a presentation on a resource tool designed to help them access research publications and data to address questions in the alliance research agenda. After the presentation, members received hands-on practice using the tool.

Also on November 8, the alliance co-hosted the "Strengthening School Partnerships With Native Families and Communities" bridge event webinar in collaboration with REL Southwest's Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance and REL Pacific's Guam Alliance for Family and Community Engagement. The event described promising practices and a resource toolkit for engaging Native families and communities.

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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: Fall 2016

During this quarter, the New Mexico Prekindergarten Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions and concerns and to plan and hold events.

On November 9, the alliance convened for a combined meeting and workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Members received a presentation on the Using GIS Mapping to Understand PreK Availability and Need in New Mexico project, including how to use the ArcGIS website to produce interactive maps to examine topics such as poverty, educational attainment, and tribal boundaries. Members then received hands-on practice using a resource tool designed to help them access research publications and data to address questions in the alliance's research agenda.

Progress also continued on the alliance projects. Technical assistance and data analysis for the New Mexico PreK Participation for Special Populations project and the New Mexico PreK Kindergarten Readiness project were completed. In addition, staff completed initial data analysis for the Kindergarten Observation Tool Validation study.

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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: Fall 2016

During this quarter, the Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance met twice. The liaison, researchers, and members communicated regularly to address questions and provide updates on alliance projects.

In October, the alliance convened for a combined meeting and workshop. During the meeting, the principal investigator for the Oklahoma Teacher Professional Development Survey reviewed the survey items and facilitated a discussion about which questions were of particular interest to the alliance. In the workshop, members gained hands-on practice using a resource tool designed to help them access research publications and data to address questions in the alliance research agenda.

Also in October, the alliance liaison participated in two conference sessions: "Research-Based Tools and Resources for Family and Community Engagement" at the 47th Annual National Indian Education Association (NIEA) Convention and Trade Show and "Rounding Up Partnerships to Inform Statewide Policy and Practice" at the 108th National Rural Education Association (NREA) Convention and Research Symposium.

On November 8, the alliance co-hosted the "Strengthening School Partnerships With Native Families and Communities" bridge event webinar in collaboration with REL Southwest's New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance and REL Pacific's Guam Alliance for Family and Community Engagement. The event described promising practices and a resource toolkit for engaging Native families and communities.

Also in November, the alliance's Native American Indian Working Group held a meeting, titled "Tribal Transition: Culturally Respecting the Emerging Adult," to share the group's expertise in this area. In addition, the working group identified the areas of need and focus for 2017: diversity training for administrators, family and community engagement, increasing inclusiveness, and Native American persistence in higher education.

Staff also made revisions based on IES review to the final 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.

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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: Fall 2016

During this quarter, the Texas Hispanic STEM Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions, discuss projects, and plan and hold events.

In November 2016, REL Southwest staff conducted a presentation at the San Antonio STEM Council meeting. The principal investigator and alliance liaison presented an overview of the findings of two studies: Texas Hispanic STEM Advanced Course Supply and Enrollment and Key Indicators Related to Postsecondary STEM Outcomes for Hispanic Students in Texas. The liaison also met with members of the STEM Council to explore additional audiences for the findings of both studies.

In addition, during this quarter staff revised the final reports for the two studies to address IES feedback.

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