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.

quote

The narrowing down process [in choosing research topics] has led us to the heart of what is doable, and it makes a lot of sense to come out with something concrete that can be used to inform practice.”
Lucy Trautman alliance member



Goal

  • Understand the factors that contribute to or impede progress related to school performance and student college and career readiness in Oklahoma’s rural areas

Research Focus

The alliance has identified the following topics as priorities:

  • Teacher recruitment and retention
  • Access to high-quality professional development
  • Educators and data use
  • Native family and community engagement

Alliance Flyer

screen cap of alliance flyer

Alliance Contact

Haidee Williams, Alliance Liaison
hkwilliams@air.org

Work Updates

2017

Spring

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.

Winter

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 Standards 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.

2016

Fall

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.

Summer

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

In June 2016, the alliance's Native American Indian Working Group held an informal meet and greet at the 2016 Indian Education Summit, hosted by the University of Oklahoma. In addition, the alliance liaison facilitated calls with members to plan presentations for sessions at the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) Convention on October 5–8 in Reno, Nevada, and the 108th National Rural Education Association (NREA) Convention and Research Symposium on October 13–5 in Columbus, Ohio. Planning began as well for an alliance-sponsored October bridge event on strengthening Native family and community partnerships.

Also in this quarter, staff working on the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) Technical Assistance Evaluation Designs project conducted the final technical assistance session with OSDE and the state's Mathematics and Science Partnerships grantees. Staff also began 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.

Spring

During this quarter, REL Southwest staff and alliance members continued to engage actively in the alliance's various projects. Collaboration also continued with members of the Native American Working Group to share information from a recent workshop designed to increase Native American family and community engagement in children's education.

REL Southwest staff working on the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) Technical Assistance Evaluation Designs project held training sessions with OSDE and the Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) grantees in March, April, and May. The team also collaborated with OSDE to identify the date and focus of the final training session.

Data collection was completed for the Oklahoma Teacher Professional Development Survey, described in more detail in our Focus: Oklahoma article. The team then began analysis of the survey data and drafting the final report, as part of the follow-up Measuring Teachers' Access to Professional Development Practices in Oklahoma by School Locale: A Descriptive Analysis. In addition, data analysis began on the Indicator Study to Identify Promising Predictors of Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Oklahoma Rural Schools.

In related news, alliance planning team member Todd Crabtree, superintendent of Byng Schools in Ada, Oklahoma, was proud to share that Byng's Homer Elementary won the grand prize of $50,000 in the Collaboration Nation video contest. Congratulations, Homer!

Winter

In November 2015, REL Southwest provided interested applicants for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) Mathematics and Science Partnerships (MSP) grants with training on logic models and how they relate to evaluation plans. This technical assistance is part of a newly approved alliance project, Oklahoma State Department of Education Technical Assistance Evaluation Designs, and is being conducted in collaboration with the OSDE Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) team.

Later in the month, REL Southwest facilitated a workshop on increasing Native American family and community engagement in children's education. Attendees learned how to design or improve a program to increase engagement for Native American families.

In February 2016, the Alliance Planning-Leadership Team met to review and provide recommendations on 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 descriptive analysis project. The planning team also discussed scheduling alliance meetings and workshops for the remainder of the year.

2015

Fall

In September 2015, the alliance's Native American Indian Working Group met at the Absentee Shawnee Tribe Board Room in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The working group provided targeted feedback on the planning for an upcoming workshop on family and community engagement and other possible workshop topics. Feedback included additional context for the content of the workshop and the best time to provide it to the entire alliance and potential guests. The working group also discussed the possibility of developing a plan to identify how many tribally enrolled teachers, administrators, and education directors work in each school in Oklahoma.

Also in September, an alliance working group met virtually to discuss the proposed Study of Predictors of Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Rural Oklahoma Schools. Group members noted that this study relates to the new Teacher Shortage Task Force formed by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Discussion followed on how the research could inform the work of the task force. In addition, members discussed the status of the development of the survey to measure teachers' access to professional development practices in Oklahoma by school locale. REL Southwest researchers asked for suggestions on the best time to administer this survey.

During this quarter, researchers also conducted the teacher survey and cognitive interviews for the Promising Practices in Professional Development study. The findings will be shared with the alliance in future meetings.

Summer

During this quarter, the Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance held several meetings and work sessions to plan and participate in alliance activities. In May 2015, the alliance’s Native American Indian Working Group met at the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes offices in Concho, Oklahoma, to review changes to the alliance’s research agenda and to gather ideas for workshops and other technical assistance to meet the needs of rural Native American Indian students. Identified topics for technical assistance included improving family and community involvement, and examining school demographic composition. The working group also toured some of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal and community outreach programs, including the CATV47 television station. In June 2015, the working group met by webinar to finalize its proposed research agenda revisions and technical assistance topics.

Also in June, the alliance liaison conducted two site visits to the Oklahoma Department of Education to recruit members and increase state agency participation in the alliance. In addition, the liaison shared updates about two alliance studies: the proposed study of Predictors of Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Rural Oklahoma Schools and the survey to measure Oklahoma teachers’ access to promising professional development practices by school locale.

In July 2015, the entire alliance met in a blended meeting at Rose State College in Midwest City, Oklahoma, to review, discuss, and prioritize the Native American Indian Working Group’s proposed revisions to the alliance’s research agenda and to provide feedback on the two alliance projects mentioned above.

Work also continued on the alliance’s Educators and Data Use technical assistance pilot. In May, REL Southwest staff provided two teacher training sessions by webinar and, later in the month, conducted focus group sessions at each of the two pilot schools.

Spring

During this quarter, the alliance held several meetings and work sessions to plan and participate in alliance activities. In February 2015, the full alliance met via webinar to provide feedback on two proposed projects: a study of Predictors of Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Rural Oklahoma Schools and a survey to measure teachers' access to Promising Professional Development Practices in Oklahoma by school locale. The proposed survey was approved during this quarter.

In March, members met via webinar to share their expertise on the topic of equipping K–12 rural administrators to build data-literate environments for school improvement. Also, the Alliance Planning-Leadership Team met face-to-face to discuss and provide feedback on projects in progress and to plan how to share project results with the full alliance.

In April, the alliance's Native American Indian Working Group convened a face-to-face meeting to review and provide feedback on the proposed additions to the alliance's research agenda, with a focus on the research topics and questions related to Native American Indian educators and students. In addition, the working group toured the Iowa Tribe's horse, buffalo, and eagle facilities and programs in Perkins, Oklahoma.

Also in April, the full alliance met in Norman, Oklahoma, to review and discuss the results of the Literature Review of Promising Professional Development Practices for rural schools, which was completed during this quarter. Members then participated in a survey development workshop in preparation for assisting with the Promising Professional Development Practices teacher survey, mentioned above. In addition, work continued on the Educators and Data Use technical assistance pilot.

Winter

In November 2014, the alliance met via webinar to review the research agenda and the status of current and new projects. Alliance members provided feedback and additional considerations for new projects on promising professional development practices for rural educators and predictors of teacher recruitment and retention in rural schools. The alliance also received information about two resources in response to a request for information on assessing the educational needs of Native American Indian students.

In December 2014, the alliance's Native American Indian Workgroup convened a hybrid face-to-face meeting, with a webinar component for members to participate remotely. The workgroup reviewed the alliance's research agenda, with a focus on research topics and questions related to Native American Indian educators and students. The workgroup also suggested using one of the statewide conferences as a way to share information about the unique needs of the state's Native American students with Oklahoma education leaders.

Also in December, the whole alliance met via webinar to discuss the participation of rural students in postsecondary education. Presenters from Texas Tech University and the University of Oklahoma discussed current trends in research on rural populations and higher education as well as how a culture of discourse at one remote rural high school in Oklahoma supports postsecondary education. Alliance members gained practical applications they can implement locally.

In January 2015, work continued on the Educators and Data Use Pilot technical assistance, the Literature Review of Promising Practices in Professional Development in Rural Schools, and the new projects listed above.

2014

October

In October, alliance members continued to work with REL Southwest staff on the Educators and Data Use Pilot project through teleconferences and a webinar. Through the project, participating alliance members and schools continue to receive technical assistance on data use. The use of the following data tools was discussed during the October meetings: Student Performance Summary table, Task Deconstruction Matrix, and Short Cycle Instructional Plan table.

Work continues on developing the American Indian Family Involvement and Career Aspirations workshop for the alliance and on the Literature Review of Promising Practices in Professional Development in Rural Schools .

August–September

In August, the alliance liaison conducted site visits to meet with alliance members in Oklahoma. Topics of discussion included year 3 project ideas and how the members could collect the data needed to answer the alliance research questions. On September 15, the alliance held its quarterly meeting via webinar. Members reviewed the status of current and proposed projects, upcoming milestones, and the alliance research agenda.

REL Southwest staff also conducted two Educators and Data Use workshops—the first in August and the second in September—in Seminole, Oklahoma. Alliance members and the educators who are participating in the project attended the workshop sessions.

The Oklahoma Data Inventory was approved by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in August. In addition, work continues on the Literature Review of Promising Practices in Professional Development in rural schools.

July

The Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance met at the Renaissance Convention Center and Hotel, Oklahoma City, to review the status of current year 2 projects, the alliance research agenda, and upcoming alliance milestones. The alliance also provided feedback on the year 3 project ideas generated by REL Southwest staff to address additional topics on the research agenda.

REL Southwest staff continued work on the Oklahoma Data Inventory and the Literature Review of Promising Practices in Professional Development. Work also continued on the development of the two Educators and Data Use workshops, which are scheduled for August and September 2014 in Seminole, Oklahoma.

June

The Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance met at Seminole State College, Seminole, OK, to share data use processes used in Seminole Public Schools as well as to discuss and provide input on current and future alliance project ideas. During the meeting, members noted the importance of including both elementary and secondary school representation in the Educators and Data Use Pilot project. Technology and data use resources also were shared with and among the members. In addition, principals from Seminole Public Schools provided a presentation and facilitated a conversation on how to use paraprofessionals to provide intensive interventions to identified students during the regular school day without pulling the students from the same classes each time.

Regarding alliance projects, work continued on the Literature Review of Promising Practices in Professional Development and the Educators and Data Use Pilot.

May

The Oklahoma Rural Schools Planning Team, which consists of a smaller group of volunteer core members who help guide the alliance’s work, convened its initial meeting via webinar. Attendees established processes and procedures for the team and then provided input and feedback on the alliance's activities and projects. Discussions included the need to ensure the focus remains on the rural influence as projects move forward.

REL Southwest researchers continued to work on the Literature Review of Promising Practices in Professional Development, and the proposal for the Educators and Data Use Pilot was approved.

April

Members of the alliance formed the Oklahoma Rural Schools Planning Team, which will provide input and feedback on the alliance's activities and current and emerging projects. The team's first meeting is scheduled for May to establish processes and procedures. In addition, REL Southwest staff and the Institute of Education Sciences continued to refine the Educators and Data Use pilot project and work began on the Literature Review of Promising Practices in Professional Development.

March

In March, alliance members and REL Southwest staff met virtually with the Oklahoma director of Learning Technology to discuss what learning in the digital age should look like in Oklahoma rural schools. Topics included the status of rural districts' capacity to utilize technology, how to obtain appropriate funding for technology, and how to help teachers effectively incorporate technology into student learning experiences. The alliance's meeting discussions also included research project updates and the formation of an alliance planning team. The Oklahoma Rural Schools Planning Team will include four to six alliance members who will meet more often with the REL Southwest alliance liaison and research staff to provide detailed feedback on the alliance's research and technical assistance projects.

Later in the month, the alliance liaison visited three alliance members' sites: Byng, Little Axe, and Seminole Public Schools. The purpose was to observe and learn how the districts are using data to make decisions about student interventions. As a result of the site visits, Byng and Little Axe volunteered to serve as pilot sites in the proposed Educators and Data Use technical assistance project. Collaboration with alliance members continues on this project as well as on American Indian parental involvement.

In addition, the proposal for the Oklahoma Literature Review of Promising Practices in Professional Development was approved.

February

In February, the Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance focused on the current status and needs of the state. The alliance liaison and researchers conducted a conference call with state representatives to discuss the current status of Oklahoma’s statewide longitudinal data system (SLDS), often referred to as the Wave. Other discussion topics included projects in development, the system’s linkage with other Oklahoma data systems, and predictive analytics.

In other data-related discussions, the alliance liaison held multiple phone conversations with alliance members from Byng, Little Axe, and Seminole school districts about participating in a proposed Educators and Data Use pilot study. The liaison spoke several times with the superintendent and junior high school principal of Byng Schools and the principal of Little Axe Elementary to consider criteria for identifying the best schools for the pilot. The various factors discussed included staff turnover, principal longevity, staff stress, and rural school locale. Also, the alliance liaison and alliance researcher had a phone conversation with the Seminole Public Schools superintendent and assistant superintendent about how their district uses data to inform ongoing reading interventions for targeted students. These initial discussions provided needs-sensing information for the proposed pilot study. In March, the alliance liaison will be conducting site visits to each of the potential pilot sites in Byng, Little Axe, and Seminole.

In addition, work continues on the proposals for the Oklahoma Literature Review of Promising Practices in Professional Development and the pilot study mentioned above.

January

Alliance members and REL Southwest staff met virtually in January to discuss the progress of proposed projects for addressing the research questions identified as most important to the alliance. These questions, as part of the research agenda, drive the alliance’s research studies and projects. Currently, the alliance’s research questions relate to the priorities of educators and data use, rural professional development, and American Indian parental involvement. Several members of the alliance requested to continue working in two smaller groups between the virtual whole-group meetings. These two working groups will focus on the priority topics of educators and data use, and American Indian parental involvement and career awareness. During the full alliance meetings, the working groups will provide progress updates to all the members.