Fast response applied research and development projects are focused on high priority education issues and are, by design, short term, lasting no longer than twelve months. Issues are identified through on-going regional needs assessments and requests for information received primarily from educators and policymakers at the state and local level. The regional educational laboratory looks for scientifically based evidence to respond to these requests by gathering up recent data, studies, reviews, or state or district resources to provide a careful examination of findings. They present those findings in a way that informs the decisionmaking process based on the best scientific evidence available. The results from fast response projects are published in two ongoing series of reports called Issues & Answers and Technical Briefs
Issues & Answers reports pull together high quality quantitative and qualitative research to inform non-researchers about the body of knowledge that exists on issues, or summarize and assess regional school data. The reports are reader-friendly, with the key conclusions up front, necessary definitions and explanations, and placement of more complicated details on methods and data in appendices. These reports often lead to future research on a topic. Oftentimes the conclusions provided in the report open the door for future investigations on a topic. All Issues & Answers reports undergo a rigorous external peer review to ensure that they meet the IES standards for scientifically valid research.
REL Technical Briefs are designed to provide quick, highly targeted evidence-based answers to specific requests for information on particular education issues of current interest, such as recently published education studies and student or teacher assessment tools, and short updates of previous Issues & Answers reports. Briefs are completed in a much shorter time than Issues & Answers reports because they do not require extensive literature reviews or pulling together data from different sources. REL Technical Briefs also undergo peer review to ensure that they meet IES standards.