Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest at SEDL
REL Southwest Spotlight Vol. 2, No. 3: Fall 2014 // Vol. 2, No. 3 // Fall 2014
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Note from the Director
Research shows that high-quality teachers can have a significant impact on student achievement—and ensuring educator effectiveness has become a nationwide priority. Our fall issue focuses on this critical topic. We spotlight our new Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance, which seeks to inform state and local efforts to improve educator preparation and evaluation. Our featured resource, a report from Bellwether Education Partners, presents five lessons learned from an examination of educator evaluation systems in several states. The report's authors are also presenting their findings at one of our upcoming November webinars, which are listed below. Register now for these free events. In addition, we highlight our fast response service.

Thank you for your interest in our work to improve education and student outcomes in the Southwest.

Vicki Dimock, PhD, REL Southwest Director

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

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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

 // OUR WORK //

Working primarily through research alliances, we collaborate with educators, policymakers, researchers, and others to help states and schools use data and research to address high-priority education needs.

Spotlight on Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance
As states make dramatic changes to educator effectiveness policies, initiatives, and systems, there is a critical need for research to guide these efforts. Our new Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance is using data and research to inform state and local efforts to improve educator preparation and evaluation. The alliance, which is focusing initially on Texas, includes more than 35 members representing school districts, regional education service centers, state agencies, education associations, and universities. During the first two meetings, members established the alliance goals and discussed a range of potential research projects focused on educator evaluation systems.

To join the alliance or learn more: Contact Tammie Causey-Konate at or 800-644-8671.

Fast Response Data Support
Education agencies often lack the resources to analyze and summarize the extensive data they collect. We can help. Through our fast response service, we provide local and state agencies with a variety of data support, including data analysis, tool development, and briefings. To learn more: Contact Melissa Dodson at or 800-476-6861.

photo of REL Southwest's five-state region of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas

Research Alliance Overviews



New Research Alliances Launched
We have officially launched our two new Texas-based research alliances. At kickoff meetings in August and October, the new members of the Educator Effectiveness alliance and the English Learners alliance—already at more than 65 members strong—had a chance to meet, learn about the REL work, and discuss the proposed research agenda. Thanks to all who attended!

Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools Conference
Staff with our Louisiana Charter Schools Research Alliance hosted an exhibitor booth at the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools Annual Conference in Baton Rouge on October 21. The conference, titled "7th Inning Stretch: Charters, Choice, Change," enabled staff to network and share information with charter school educators from across the state.

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We encourage you to follow @relsouthwest on Twitter to keep abreast of our latest news, events, and resources. We look forward to connecting with you!

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Teacher Evaluations in an Era of Rapid Change: From "Unsatisfactory" to "Needs Improvement"

In this report from Bellwether Education Partners, Chad Aldeman and Carolyn Chuong examine the ongoing efforts across the nation to revamp educator evaluation systems. Looking at data from 17 states and the District of Columbia, the authors present five lessons learned:

  • Districts are starting to differentiate among poor, fair, and great educator performance.
  • Schools are using higher-quality classroom observation rubrics to provide teachers with better, timelier feedback.
  • Despite state policy changes, many districts still do not factor student growth into teacher evaluation ratings.
  • Districts have wide discretion, even under "statewide" evaluation systems.
  • Districts often ignore performance when making teacher personnel decisions.

Read the full report.

photo of a performance rating sheet

Related Webinar

Nov. 3: Implementation of New Educator Evaluation Systems: Lessons Learned
3:00–4:30 p.m. CT


Nov. 3: Bridge Event Webinar: Implementation of New Educator Evaluation Systems: Lessons Learned
Learn from the latest research and the experiences of other states in this free webinar on effectively implementing new educator evaluation systems. (3:00–4:30 p.m. CT)  Register

Nov. 3: Texas Hispanic STEM Research Alliance: Understanding Logic Models Workshop 2
This workshop, the second in a series, will review the basics of logic models and the research process and then provide practice utilizing logic models to develop research questions. Registration for this event has closed. For more information, contact Haidee Williams at or 800-476-6861. (9:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m. CT, Embassy Suites Hotel, San Marcos, TX)

Nov. 10: Bridge Event Webinar: Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School
This free interactive webinar will examine effective strategies for improving English language academic instruction, as recommended in the new What Works Clearinghouse practice guide Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School. (3:00–4:15 p.m. CT)  Register

Nov. 18: New Mexico PreK Research Alliance: Literature and Gaps Analysis Workshop
This event is open to alliance members and their colleagues. For more information, contact Janice Keizer at or 800-476-6861. (8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. MT, St. Francis Hotel, Santa Fe, NM)

Miss a Bridge Event?
Go to our archived bridge events online to access videos, presentations, handouts, and resources.

View all upcoming events
View archived event resources
View related regional and national events

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)
  • 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
Twitter: @relsouthwest

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