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: Winter 2017

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

REL Southwest staff completed the GIS maps for the Arkansas PreK Participation Study and GIS Mapping analytic technical support project. The results of this work were shared with alliance members at a face-to-face meeting in Little Rock on April 27, 2017.

The alliance also began planning for a bridge event webinar, "Leading the Way: How States Are Addressing Early Learning Under ESSA," which was held March 21, 2017. 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. The Arkansas Prekindergarten Research Alliance liaison and one alliance member contributed to the planning and presentation of this bridge event.

REL Southwest also received approval for a new technical assistance project, Alignment of the Arkansas Teacher Excellence and Support System (TESS) to Other Measures of PreK Teacher Performance. The project team will compare and contrast TESS with two widely used preschool evaluation instruments: the Early Childhood Environment Rating System (ECERS-R) and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS™). The findings, to be shared at an alliance workshop, will be presented in the form of a crosswalk showing the alignment between the three instruments' domains, dimensions, and criteria. In addition, the workshop will facilitate discussions with alliance members about how best to use the crosswalk in their preK programs and to inform statewide discussions about the use of TESS and other performance evaluation instruments for preK teachers. The project team has begun developing the alignment crosswalk and planning the workshop.

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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: Winter 2017

During this quarter, the Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions, discuss alliance projects, and plan for upcoming alliance meetings and events.

Progress continued on alliance projects. Staff finalized the analysis for the Texas Teacher Supply and Demand technical assistance project and anticipate sharing the results with the alliance in spring 2017. Staff also began drafting the final report for the Descriptive Study of Teacher Mobility in Texas and continued work on the final report for the Analysis of Data From the Pilot Implementation of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) study.

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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: Winter 2017

During this quarter, the English Learners Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions, discuss alliance projects, and plan and hold events. In addition, REL Southwest staff explored potential collaborations with other RELs for a research-to-practice bridge event focused on supporting English learner students.

In February, the liaison coordinated with members to plan the alliance's next meeting, which was held virtually on March 2, 2017. Goals for this meeting were to obtain member input on possible topics for a bridge event, provide updates on alliance projects, and discuss the future of the alliance beyond the REL's five-year contract cycle, which runs through November 2017.

Progress also continued on alliance projects. REL Southwest staff completed the data analysis and began drafting the final report for the Trends in the Identification and Provision of Services to Gifted and Talented English Learner Students in Texas project. On the Early Warning and Risk Prevention for English Learner Students project, staff continued to support the community of practice and to provide individualized technical assistance to the participating districts, including site visits in February.

In addition, staff continued to make 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: Winter 2017

During this quarter, the Louisiana Charter Schools Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions, discuss alliance projects, and plan upcoming meetings and events. This planning included the alliance's next quarterly meeting, held March 29, 2017, at Lusher Charter School in New Orleans.

A face-to-face bridge event on charter school authorization, being conducted in collaboration with the Louisiana Department of Education and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, was approved and scheduled for May 10 in Baton Rouge.

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.

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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: Winter 2017

During this quarter, the New Mexico Achievement Gap Research Alliance liaison and members communicated regularly to address questions, discuss alliance projects, and plan events. This communication included planning for the alliance's next quarterly meeting, which was held April 26, 2017, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This meeting included training for alliance members and other staff from their organizations on the use of a tool for accessing available data and research publications to address the remaining questions in the alliance's research agenda.

Progress also continued on the alliance projects. On the Assessing the Role of Noncognitive and School Environmental Factors in New Mexico Students' Transitions to Grade 9 study, the project team continued data analysis for the 10 participating districts and began summarizing the results. On the Understanding Connections Between English and Spanish Proficiency for English Learner Students in New Mexico study, the project team finished data collection and analysis for the five participating districts and began drafting the final report. In addition, staff continued revising 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.

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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: Winter 2017

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

On February 27, the alliance convened via webinar for a quarterly meeting. Members received a presentation on the New Mexico PreK Participation for Special Populations project, which was completed in January. The presentation informed a follow-up discussion, as alliance members considered the factors affecting preK participation and potential ways to improve it.

Members also received updates on two other alliance projects. The New Mexico Kindergarten Readiness technical assistance project is supporting alliance members in analyzing differences in preK student performance on the state's new Kindergarten Observation Tool (KOT) and the Beginning of Year (BOY) Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) composite assessment. REL Southwest anticipates this project will run through April or May. Progress is also being made on the Kindergarten Observation Tool Validation study, which is assessing the tool's validity, reliability, and fairness. REL Southwest anticipates that a public report of the findings will be published later this year.

In addition, the alliance began planning for a bridge event webinar, "Leading the Way: How States Are Addressing Early Learning Under ESSA," which was held March 21, 2017. 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. The New Mexico Prekindergarten Research Alliance liaison contributed to the planning and presentation of this bridge event.

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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: Winter 2017

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

In February 2017, REL Southwest staff completed the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) Technical Assistance Evaluation Designs project. This technical assistance project provided OSDE staff and Mathematics and Science Partnerships (MSP) grantees with training and assistance in conducting rigorous evaluations.

Also in February, REL Southwest received approval for a new alliance project, Building Capacity to Improve Professional Learning. This technical assistance project will assist OSDE staff in leveraging the results of the survey analyses from another alliance project, Measuring Teachers' Access to Professional Development Practices in Oklahoma by School Locale: A Descriptive Analysis, to inform the statewide implementation of the Oklahoma Professional Learning Guidelines for educators. REL Southwest and OSDE staff have begun planning and developing the initial workshop.

In addition, staff continued drafting 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. Planning has also begun for disseminating these reports, which are expected to be published later this year.

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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: Winter 2017

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

In February, REL Southwest received approval for a new alliance project, Tracking Implementation of Strategies to Support Texas Hispanic STEM Students. This technical assistance project will incorporate the findings from the Literature Review to Identify Indicators Related to Hispanic STEM Postsecondary Education Outcomes to inform and support the implementation of the T-STEM (Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Blueprint Benchmarks. These benchmarks are used by 124 T-STEM Academies across the state. The project team has identified which benchmarks will be the focus and begun planning and developing the initial workshop, which was held in late March 2017.

Also this quarter, staff continued revising the final reports for the ongoing alliance projects: 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.

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