Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwes
REL Southwest Spotlight // Vol. 1, No. 2 // Fall 2013
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We are pleased to present the second edition of the REL Southwest Spotlight e-bulletin. We have many exciting developments to share.

Governing Board Meeting
In July, we held our first REL Southwest Governing Board meeting. Board members from our five-state region met in Austin, Texas, and shared ideas for future work, which we are now proposing. Our Governing Board advises us on regional priorities and provides guidance and oversight. The Board next meets on September 30.

Focus on Rural Schools
In this e-bulletin, we focus on rural schools, which is the theme of our first Bridge Event—an event that "bridges" research and practice. Read more below about our Aspirations of Rural Youth Bridge Event, to be held via webinar on October 3. We invite you to register for the event—it's free and open to the public.

Thank you for your interest in our work. We are delighted you are part of the research community working to improve education and student outcomes in the Southwest.

Best Wishes,
Vicki Dimock, REL Southwest Director

Join Us
Interested in joining our work? Contact us to learn more.

REL SW Alliance

Ask REL Southwest

If you reside in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, or Texas, you may send us your research-based questions about education policies, programs, and practices by completing our Ask REL Southwest form.

Ask Us

// FEATURED event//

October 3, 2013 (1:30–3:00 p.m. CT)
Bridge Event Webinar: Aspirations of Rural Youth
Rural youth often have high education and career aspirations, but research suggests they are less likely than urban youth to attain them. This webinar will explore the challenges and successes of rural schools and communities in supporting students in the transition to college, career, and adult life.

Award-winning professor Dr. Judith L. Meece will present findings from the Rural High School Aspirations Study (2007–11) and discuss the implications for educators. In addition, two assistant superintendents from rural schools in Oklahoma and Texas will share their successes and challenges in supporting high school students in attaining their college and career goals.

View the webinar archive


Rural High School Aspirations Study
In this nationwide study, a team at the National Research Center on Rural Education Support gathered information from students, parents, teachers, and school administrators at 73 rural high schools across 34 states. In all, more than 8,500 students participated. The initial survey took place during the 2007–08 school year, with follow-up interviews in 2009. Analysis was completed in 2010 and 2011. Key findings include the following:

  • A majority of the rural students planned to continue their education after high school and desired careers that required a college degree.
  • Fewer rural youth attain their postsecondary goals than urban youth.
  • Rural youth have limited access to advanced coursework, college and career counseling, and other postsecondary preparation programs.
  • For college and career counseling, students in rural, low-income schools reported turning to teachers more often than did students in higher-income, small-town schools.

Learn more

// OUR WORK //
Our research alliances meet regularly via webinar and asynchronous online forums to discuss research topics and studies, the recruitment of new members, and other work. For the past 3 months, alliance members have been focusing on narrowing and refining the high-priority research topics they had identified as well as potential research studies.

Cross-Alliance Webinar
To support this work, REL Southwest hosted a cross-alliance webinar, Framing Your Research Agenda Using a Research Continuum, on September 11 to provide alliance members with guidance and tools for developing a research agenda. Topics included how to formulate research questions and determine the most appropriate research designs to address them.

Follow-Up Work Sessions
During October and November, each alliance will hold a follow-up work session to apply the information covered in the September webinar. Members will develop research questions for each topic of interest and determine the methods and feasibility of potential research studies. Each alliance's work session will result in the development of an initial research agenda, complete with topics, subtopics, research questions, and appropriate research designs. These research agendas will guide the alliances' work for the next 2 to 4 years.

Alliance Research Focus
Select a research alliance below to learn more about the research topics, questions, and studies being considered.


What Works Clearinghouse Reviewer Certification Training
REL Southwest alliance researchers Brenda Arellano and Verónica Ruiz de Castilla attended the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Reviewer Certification Training in Washington, DC, on July 31–August 1. This 2-day training reviewed WWC evidence standards for various types of research and how to apply these standards to assess the rigor of a study's design and implementation. The staff members are now in the process of getting certified, which involves passing an exam and developing an approved study review guide. Alliance researcher Ginger Stoker is already a WWC-certified reviewer.

Rural Schools Alliance Staff Attend Conference
Vicki Dimock, REL Southwest director, and Haidee Williams, Oklahoma Rural Schools alliance liaison, attended the Aurora Learning Community Association (ALCA) Summer Conference on July 22–23, 2013, in Oklahoma City, OK. Dimock and Williams networked and recruited new members. In addition, they discussed how the alliance is focusing on expanding the federal definitions of rural to differentiate the state's rural schools and provide additional contextual insight on the challenges different school types face (e.g., the difficulty of providing professional development when no providers are located in the area). Several alliance members, which include ALCA staff and president Gary Sacket, attended the session.


September 30, 2013: REL Southwest Governing Board Meeting
Governing Board members from our five-state region will convene at SEDL Headquarters in Austin, Texas, to provide guidance on regional priorities and share ideas for future work.

October 3, 2013: Bridge Event Webinar: Aspirations of Rural Youth
This webinar will explore the challenges and successes that rural schools and communities experience in supporting students in the transition to college and careers. The event is free and open to the public.
Event Archive

October–November 2013: Alliance Work Sessions: Framing Your Research Agenda Using a Research Continuum
These alliance-specific work sessions will build on the information covered at the September 11 webinar. Each alliance will begin drafting a research agenda. Learn more.

View all REL Southwest events
View related regional and national events
REL Southwest staff will attend or present at the following conferences.
  • October 16–19, 2013
    American Evaluation Association 2013 Convention
    Washington, DC
    Think Tank session by REL Southwest researchers on evaluating the effectiveness of teacher evaluation systems.
  • October 18–20, 2013
    National Rural Education Association Convention: A New Generation of Learning in Rural Schools
    Branson, MO
    Panel presentation by OK Rural Schools Research Alliance staff.
  • October 21–23, 2013
    Indian Education Summit, American Indian Institute
    Norman, OK
    Presentation by OK Rural Schools Research Alliance staff.
  • November 20–23, 2013
    National Association for the Education of Young Children Annual Conference & Expo
    Washington, DC
    Attendance by AR and NM PreK Research Alliance staff.

About REL Southwest
REL Southwest is one of 10 Regional Educational Laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. These labs provide applied research and evaluation, analytic technical support, and services and products to address pressing regional education needs, inform practice and policy, and improve student outcomes.

About SEDL
SEDL (formerly Southwest Educational Development Laboratory) is a nonprofit corporation based in Austin, Texas. SEDL is dedicated to solving significant education problems and improving teaching and learning through research, research-based resources, and professional development. Visit SEDL’s website for more information.

Our Partners
  • American Institutes for Research (AIR)
  • Berkeley Policy Associates (BPA)
  • Chesapeake Research Associates LLC
  • Decision Information Resources Inc.
  • Empirical Education Inc.
  • Gibson Consulting Group
  • RAND Education

About REL SW Contact REL SW

The REL Southwest Spotlight e-bulletin was developed under Contract ED-IES-12-C-0012 from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. The content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

Questions or comments should be directed to:
REL Southwest at SEDL
4700 Mueller Blvd.
Austin, TX 78723
Tel: 800-476-6861

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