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Regional Educational Laboratory Program


Appalachia
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 CNA 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 five regional educational cooperatives that serve 109 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. These state priorities, coupled with specific district goals, have brought dual enrollment programs and dual credit courses to the forefront for the KyCCRA.
  • Southwest Tennessee Rural Education Cooperative: The Southwest Tennessee Rural Education Cooperative (SWTREC) is a group of school districts across 12 rural southwestern Tennessee counties. The work between REL Appalachia and the SWTREC has coalesced around increasing educational achievement to improve student enrollment and persistence in post-secondary institutions. The member districts will eventually answer questions such as, to what extent does a better academic preparation close enrollment and persistence gaps, and how are high school characteristics associated with the likelihood of student completion of post-secondary degrees?

Improving Low Achieving Schools

  • Virginia Middle School Alliance: The Virginia Middle School Alliance (VMSA) is a group of representatives from Virginia's middle schools, local district offices, and the Virginia Department of Education's Office of School Improvement (OSI). These representatives share the broad goal of building the capacity of middle schools to use data to inform decision making 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 the appropriate interventions.
  • Metro Nashville Public Schools Data Use Alliance: The goal of the MNPS 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 (LEADS), 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.

Corporate Experience

CNA 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. Under support from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), CNA is implementing a randomized controlled trial examining the effectiveness of a professional development program aimed at helping teachers enhance their ability to use data. In 2012, CNA Education was awarded another multi-year grant from IES to conduct research evaluating the Florida College and Career Ready Initiative (FCCRI), a program to ensure students are prepared for college and careers across the state of Florida.

Lab Director:
Dr. Justin D. Baer
Governing Board


Contractor:
REL Appalachia at CNA
4825 Mark Center Drive
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone: (703) 824-2828
RELAppalachia@cna.org
www.RELAppalachia.org

REL Appalachia Partners:
  • American Institutes for Research
  • Hager Sharp
  • Levation
  • Magnolia Consulting
  • Quill Research Associates
  • University of Indiana—Center for Evaluation & Education Policy
  • University of Memphis—Center for Research in Educational Policy
  • University of North Florida
  • University of Virginia