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Knowing where to look or what exactly to look for can sometimes prove challenging for teachers, principals, school administrators, educators, and staff when it comes to research questions they might have. The solution? Ask A REL!


Ask A REL is a collaborative reference desk service provided by the Institute of Education Science’s 10 Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) and functions in the same manner as a technical reference library. It provides references, referrals, and brief responses in the form of citations on research-based education questions.

No matter what the question might be, our educational research experts will work with you to find a way to answer it. Within about a month of submitting your question, you’ll receive several high-quality annotated resources that have been vetted and edited by professionals.

With all 10 RELs pooling their resources, you’ll be receiving the expertise of dozens of veteran researchers who know the exact keywords to search for in databases such as the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) and the What Works Clearinghouse.

Ask A REL users’ questions have ranged from teacher induction mentoring programs to the ideal classroom temperature. We welcome questions from parents, educators, administrators, policymakers–anyone who’s interested in what works for students and learning systems.

Ask A REL Topic: Data-driven Instruction

One topic that we’ve received multiple questions about is the value of data-driven instruction (DDI). Data-driven instruction is an approach to education that relies on research-based information to offer guidance to a given teaching-learning dynamic. Taking place largely within the classroom, DDI is meant to provide teachers the ability to be more responsive to students’ needs as well as allow students to be in charge of their own learning.

Questions we’ve received on this hot-button topic include:

These are just a few examples of education-related questions we receive via our online form. REL Central generally provides 7–10 resources for every question we receive. Click HERE to view the complete responses to both of the above questions as well as several others as organized by topic. Some additional resources regarding DDI can be found below:

Additional Reports and Resources on Data-Driven Instruction

The Correlation of Data-Driven Instruction to Teacher-Effectiveness, Teacher-Collaboration, and Teacher-Satisfaction
This mixed model research project was designed to show how implementing data-driven instruction improves teacher effectiveness and teacher collaboration. The expressed purpose of the study was to stimulate positive organizational and systemic change using data-driven instruction.

Evaluation of Support for Using Student Data to Inform Teachers’ Instruction
This report assesses an intensive approach to supporting teachers’ use of student data to tailor their instruction. The report found that this specific approach to DDI did not improve students’ achievement.

Using Student Achievement Data to Support Instructional Decision Making
This guide offers five recommendations to help educators effectively use data to monitor students’ academic progress and evaluate instructional practices. The guide recommends that schools set a clear vision for schoolwide data use, develop a data-driven culture, and make data part of an ongoing cycle of instructional improvement.