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College and Career Readiness Research Alliance

About the Alliance

The College and Career Readiness Research Alliance (CCR RA) is a cross-state group of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners who share a common goal of ensuring that all students graduate from high school prepared to enter the workforce or enroll in postsecondary degree or certification programs. To meet this goal, the alliance has two areas of focus: Postsecondary Success and Algebra I Readiness and Success. Specifically, the CCR RA aims to increase the capacity of educators in participating states to gather and use data to promote the postsecondary success of their students.

Focus Areas

Postsecondary Success Icon

Postsecondary Success: focuses on providing stakeholders with data that they can use to assess and support students’ postsecondary success.

Algebra 1 Readiness and Success Icon

Algebra I Readiness and Success: focuses on supporting the regional high-leverage need to improve student success in mathematics, including increasing access for underserved populations, with a focus on the middle school level.


Summary of Related Projects

Tools

 Infographic: Examining the Impact of Career and Technical Education
Explore the findings from our recent study which showed the positive impact of CTE programs in South Dakota and Nebraska in this REL Central infographic.

 Infographic: 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.

Research Reports

Examination of the Reliability and Validity of the Kansas Clinical Assessment Tool
Closed Project
This study examines the extent to which the locally built Kansas Clinical Assessment Tool demonstrates evidence of validity and reliability and meets requirements of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
Report: Examination of the Reliability and Validity of the Kansas Clinical Assessment Tool (2021)
Snapshot: View Study Snapshot
Study Brief: View Study Brief

The Impact of Career and Technical Education on Postsecondary Outcomes in Nebraska and South Dakota
Closed Project
As the demand for quality career and technical education (CTE) programs grows, research is needed to support state and local education agencies in making decisions regarding the implementation and improvement of such programs. Currently, while research examining CTE secondary and postsecondary outcomes exist, it is primarily composed of descriptive rather than causal studies. This impact study will examine the short- and long-term impacts associated with CTE course-taking in high school. Specifically, the study will compare the college and career outcomes of CTE and non-CTE students two and five years after high school. The results of the study will support SEA leadership and state legislators in better understanding the value of CTE to inform state policy or funding decisions.
Report: The Impact of Career and Technical Education on Postsecondary Outcomes in Nebraska and South Dakota (2021)
Snapshot: View Study Snapshot
Study Brief: View Study Brief

Steps to Develop a Model Estimating School and District Postsecondary Success
Closed Project
Given the importance of ensuring that students are prepared to succeed in life after high school, education leaders wish to accurately assess how effectively schools and districts are preparing students for college and careers. This report will describe steps education leaders can take to develop a statistical model that estimates school and district postsecondary success. Postsecondary success models estimate the influence schools or districts have on students’ postsecondary success, after controlling for external factors such as student demographics or community characteristics. The model development steps and key considerations discussed in the report will be informed by support that the Regional Educational Laboratory Central provided the Kansas State Department of Education to review and refine the Kansas Postsecondary Effectiveness Model.
Report: Steps to Develop a Model to Estimate School- and District-Level Postsecondary Success (2021)

Technical Support

Interpreting Research on Career and Technical Education
Open Project
REL Central partnered with the Nebraska Department of Education and South Dakota Department of Education to examine how becoming a career and technical education (CTE) concentrator in grades 9–12 affected students’ rates of on-time high school graduation and their rates of postsecondary education enrollment and completion. The results of this study were published in the REL Central report The Impact of Career and Technical Education on Postsecondary Outcomes in Nebraska and South Dakota. In this project, REL Central will convene CTE stakeholders from the state education agencies and local education agencies in Nebraska and South Dakota, as well as stakeholders in workforce development and postsecondary education, to interpret the study results, explore root causes, and identify implications for CTE policy and practice. REL Central will facilitate a series of state-specific and cross-state co-interpretation meetings that will result in recommendations, grounded in the study results, to improve CTE policy and practice at the state and local levels.

North Dakota Strategic Vision Metric Development
Open Project
The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) and the K–12 Education Coordinating Council developed a strategic vision that includes six long-term educational outcomes for North Dakota students. NDDPI and the council will select a working group of North Dakota educators to determine how to measure success of these outcomes. The working group will initially focus on three top-priority outcomes:

  • Increase students who graduate choice ready.
  • Increase students who demonstrate reading proficiency in third grade.
  • Reduce the disparity in achievement for students in poverty and for Native American students.

REL Central will assist the working group to first define the top-priority outcomes, then identify available data, and finally set measures of success. REL Central and the working group will then finalize recommendations for NDDPI and the K–12 Education Coordinating Council.

Strategies and Interventions for Kansas At-Risk Students
Open Project
Through the Kansas At-Risk Pupil Assistance Program, school districts receive funds to support at-risk students in order to move toward the ultimate goal of ensuring that Kansas high school graduates have the preparation and skills necessary to be successful in postsecondary education and the workforce. KSDE is required to identify and approve evidence-based practices, programs, and instruction for students receiving at-risk services. In response to this requirement, KSDE developed an evidence-based practices website. Through this project REL Central will support KSDE to update and reorganize the website to provide evidence-based practices and programs that are more aligned to KSDE’s at-risk student criteria and guidance to help build understanding of what it means for a practice to be evidence based. The project will provide KSDE partners and teachers across Kansas with evidence-based strategies and resources to support the success of students meeting identified at-risk criteria.

Using Program Evaluation to Support Continuous School Improvement
Open Project
The Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) model is designed to support school systems in systemic change efforts to produce successful high school graduates as defined by the state board of education. To achieve this, school systems in the state are required to implement a continuous improvement process that includes the use of data analysis and a quality, cyclical growth process composed of goal setting, action planning, measuring progress, and reflecting on growth. To support districts to meet this requirement, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) plans to provide training on program evaluation. The training will focus on developing logic models, evaluation questions, and data collection measures; analyzing and interpreting data; and disseminating findings. REL Central will collaborate with KSDE to create a training plan, develop training materials, and model the training for internal and external trainers. By the end of the project, KSDE will have a complete set of training materials and the capacity to deliver the training. As a result, KSDE will be able to provide comprehensive training on program evaluation in future accreditation cycles.

Kansas Postsecondary Model Review
Closed Project
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.

Evaluation of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project
Closed 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.

Review of Career and Technical Education in Three States
Closed Project
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.


Events

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

 Webinar: Using Questioning Strategies to Support Struggling Math Students

 Webinar: Teacher Qualifications Associated with Success in Algebra I

Tools

 Infographic: Foundational Knowledge and Skills for Success in Algebra I
This infographic shows the knowledge and skills associated with student achievement in Algebra I in grade 8.

 Infographic: Characteristics of Middle School Algebra I Teachers that Were Strongly Associated with Student Math Achievement

Research Reports

Associations Between Middle School Algebra I Teacher Qualifications and Student Achievement
Closed Project
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.
Report: Associations Between Middle School Algebra I Teacher Qualifications and Student Achievement (2019)
Snapshot: View Study Snapshot
Study Brief: View Study Brief

What Foundational Skills Matter for Algebra I Success?
Closed Project
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.
Report: What Foundational Skills Matter for Algebra I Success? (2020)
Snapshot: View Study Snapshot
Study Brief: View Study Brief
Appendices: View Study Appendices

Technical Support

Identifying Important Teacher Qualifications for Middle School Student Success in Algebra
Open Project
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
Closed Project
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.