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Regional Educational Laboratory Program

Appalachia: Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, & West Virginia

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The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia serves the applied education research needs of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. REL Appalachia has identified three priority research areas: ensuring college and career readiness, improving low-achieving schools, and supporting effective teachers and leaders. The REL Appalachia research team will focus on a targeted research agenda in these areas in partnership with research alliances of state and local school officials in our four states.

Research Alliances

The REL achieves its mission through a series of research alliances:

Ensuring College and Career Readiness

  • Kentucky College and Career Readiness Alliance: The Kentucky College and Career Readiness Alliance (KyCCRA) comprises seven regional educational cooperatives that serve 153 local school districts, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). The KyCCRA's focus reflects Kentucky's prioritization of college and career readiness in response to 2009 state legislation known as Senate Bill 1, which requires KDE and CPE to develop a unified strategy to reduce the college remediation rates and increase the college completion rates of Kentucky students.
  • West Virginia Workforce Readiness Alliance: West Virginia’s approach to preparing high school students for employment immerses them in real workplace environments while they are still in high school. The state’s Simulated Workplace initiative is one example, collaborating with businesses, post-secondary institutions, and educators to provide authentic learning experiences.

Improving Low Achieving Schools

  • Virginia Middle School Research Alliance: The Virginia Middle School Research Alliance is a group of representatives from Virginia's middle schools, local district offices, and the Virginia Department of Education's Office of School Improvement who share the broad goal of building middle schools' capacity to use data to inform decisionmaking and improve student outcomes. The alliance's most immediate priority is building on and expanding the state's early warning system (EWS) initiatives in order to identify potential high school dropouts as early as middle school. The middle school EWS would eventually inform decisions about matching at-risk students with appropriate interventions.
  • Metro Nashville Public Schools Data Use Research Alliance: The goal of the Metro Nashville Public Schools Data Use Research Alliance is to promote a data-based collaborative inquiry process aimed at improving adolescent literacy instruction and student outcomes in Metro Nashville middle schools. To address literacy achievement in middle schools, MNPS has developed a data warehouse, the MNPS Longitudinal Educational Analytics and Decision Support System, which provides extensive information and student-centric data so that educators may effectively deliver targeted instruction to meet the needs of their students. REL Appalachia's work aims to address the alliance's goal of building and sustaining a culture of collaborative inquiry to improve instructional practice and raise student literacy outcomes.

Supporting Effective Teachers and Leaders

  • West Virginia School Leadership Research Alliance: The goal of the West Virginia School Leadership Research Alliance is to help West Virginia schools meet their education reform goals, such as narrowing achievement gaps and exceeding state, national, and international curriculum standards. So far, participating school districts have identified two focus areas—school leadership and retention/recruitment of teachers and leaders—as priorities for future work.
  • Appalachia Higher Education Consortium: The Appalachia Higher Education Consortium (AHEC) provides a forum for leaders of teacher and administrator preparation programs, as well as state officials in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, to consider how data and evidence can be applied to strengthen the training provided to new educators. The consortium will identify the needs of preparation programs in the region and develop strategies for meeting these needs through evaluation and research-based practices.

Corporate Experience

CNA Corporation is a multi-disciplinary, non-profit research and analysis organization that provides solutions to a range of clients in the public sector. In addition to operating REL Appalachia, CNA Education serves as the lead evaluator for the Northeast Tennessee College and Career Ready Consortium (NETCO), funded by an Investing in Innovation (i3) validation grant. In 2012, CNA Education was awarded a multi-year grant from IES to conduct research evaluating the Florida College and Career Readiness Initiative, a program to ensure students are prepared for college and careers across the state of Florida.

Lab Director:
Dr. Patricia Kannapel
Governing Board

REL Appalachia at CNA
3003 Washington Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
Phone: (703) 824-2828

REL Appalachia Partners:
  • Edvance Research, Inc.
  • The EdVenture Group
  • FirePig Partners
  • The Herlihy Group
  • Indiana University—Center for Evaluation & Education Policy
  • Insight Policy Research
  • L-evation
  • Magnolia Consulting
  • Teacher Preparation Analytics
  • Wayman Services, LLC