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College and Career Readiness Research Alliance

About the Alliance

State education agencies (SEAs) in the central region understand that the educational demand for employment has grown and will continue to grow. In Kansas, for example, an estimated 71 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary degree by 2020. The mission of the College and Career Readiness Research Alliance is to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared to enter the workforce or enroll in postsecondary degree or certification programs.

The alliance currently focuses on finding ways to determine what factors are related to elementary and middle school students' readiness to take advanced high school courses that are necessary for postsecondary success, and on discovering how SEAs can determine whether students are successful after graduation.

Summary of Related Projects

Technical Support

Associations Between Middle School Algebra I Teacher Qualifications and Student Achievement
Recognizing that Algebra I is a gateway course for more advanced math, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MO DESE) partnered with REL Central to conduct a study that resulted in the report Associations Between Middle School Algebra I Teacher Qualifications and Student Achievement. The study focused on identifying which teacher qualifications were associated with middle school student success in Algebra I. The purpose of this training is to review the results of the completed study with MO DESE partners, build their capacity to interpret the study results, and consider potential implications of the results.

Identifying Factors Associated with Student Success in Algebra I
A South Dakota Department of Education (SD DOE) goal is to ensure that students entering grade 9 are proficient in math. However, student proficiency in math is lower than desired across the state, and SD DOE seeks to uncover the root causes of this issue. This project supports SD DOE partners in identifying potential root causes and in developing plans to examine those causes in order to support the improvement of middle school math education.

Kansas Postsecondary Model Review
The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) is exploring a school/district postsecondary effectiveness model that predicts postsecondary performance rates while controlling for factors beyond the schools' or districts' influence (such as student demographics, poverty rates, percentage of students with disabilities, and percentage of chronically absent students). Under this model, schools or districts whose actual effectiveness rates are higher than their predicted rates are considered to be effective. REL Central is partnering with KSDE to conduct a technical review of the postsecondary effectiveness model and in identifying possible model variations to help ensure the highest possible statistical rigor in the final version.

Measuring Civic Readiness: A Review of Instruments
As state education agencies reform their accountability systems, interest in identifying instruments to measure civic readiness has grown. This study will identify and review instruments measuring civic readiness. The study report will summarize the content and format of the instruments as well as the associated evidence of the reliability and validity of the instruments. SEAs and LEAs will be able to use the report generated by this study to identify, compare, and contrast multiple civic readiness instruments. Such a comparison will help these agencies make informed decisions about the instruments they wish to incorporate into their accountability systems.

Review of Career and Technical Education in Four States
This project addresses the need of state education agency (SEA) leaders in Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota to understand relationships between career and technical education (CTE) course-taking and both secondary and postsecondary (college and career) outcomes. In particular, leaders are focused on examining how high school CTE course-taking is associated with higher education and post-graduation employment outcomes. REL Central is partnering with the SEA leaders to identify existing data that could be used to examine these relationships, and to determine whether the necessary data can be linked between relevant state entities (such as departments of higher education). This project involves three primary activities: conducting a review of research that examines student outcomes associated with CTE course-taking; creating an inventory of existing data that may be used to address the research questions; and developing a research plan to use available data to examine the relationships between CTE course-taking and both secondary and postsecondary outcomes. The project will increase the SEA leaders’ understanding of the content and limits of their current data systems, which will in turn allow them to design potential CTE studies and make recommendations for future data system improvements. SEAs will also use the information gathered during the project to inform CTE policy and program improvement.

Research Studies

Exploring Associations Between Middle School Algebra I Teacher Qualifications and Student Achievement
Educators in Missouri are seeking to better understand which teacher qualifications (such as certification type, college coursework, and mathematical content knowledge) are associated with student achievement in Algebra I at the middle school level. REL Central is partnering with stakeholders in the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MO DESE) to conduct a study to describe the qualifications of Algebra I teachers of middle school students in grades 7–8, and to examine the relationship between these teacher qualifications and student achievement. MO DESE staff will be able to use the study findings to target professional development opportunities that support and develop the mathematical content knowledge of middle school Algebra I teachers.

Measuring Civic Readiness: A Review of Instruments
As state education agencies reform their accountability systems, interest in identifying instruments to measure civic readiness has grown. This study will identify and review instruments measuring civic readiness. The study report will summarize the content and format of the instruments as well as the associated evidence of the reliability and validity of the instruments. SEAs and LEAs will be able to use the report generated by this study to identify, compare, and contrast multiple civic readiness instruments. Such a comparison will help these agencies make informed decisions about the instruments they wish to incorporate into their accountability systems.

What Foundational Skills Matter for Algebra I Success?
Educators in Missouri are seeking to understand which foundational mathematics skills are associated with success in Algebra I. REL Central is partnering with stakeholders in the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MO DESE) to conduct a study to examine the association between students' performance on the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) grade 7 assessments and their performance on the Algebra I end-of-course (EOC) assessment in grade 8, and to identify common patterns across the five MAP concept scores for distinct groups of students. MO DESE staff will be able to use the study findings to develop processes that districts can use to differentiate students who are ready to take Algebra I in middle school from those who need additional supports to be successful.


Webinars

 Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: What Works for Tiered Interventions in Elementary and Middle Schools

 Using Questioning Strategies to Support Struggling Math Students


Infographics

 South Dakota Department of Education Snapshot: 2017/2018 Academic Year Statewide Data
This infographic provides statewide data on the total number of students and districts in South Dakota, as well as information on student demographics and achievement.


Technical Support

Supporting an Evaluation of the Kansas Can School Redesign Project
This project addresses the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) need to design an evaluation of the Kansas Can School Redesign Project (KCSRP). The KCSRP aims to redesign schools in order to better prepare students for postsecondary education and careers. In August 2017, seven Kansas districts were selected to serve as demonstration sites, and the new school designs will be launched during the 2018/19 school year. REL Central is partnering with KSDE to design an evaluation plan aligned with the KCSRP goal of promoting innovative features of school design. We will help KSDE develop a program logic model and evaluation design for the KCSRP, including creating and prioritizing evaluation questions, identifying data sources, developing data collection and analysis plans, and establishing strategies for using the evaluation findings to refine the program. This project will enhance KSDE capacity to systematically collect and analyze data on the implementation and outcomes of the KCSRP.