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Viewpoints and Findings from the REL Mid-Atlantic

Ask a REL: We're Here to Answer Your Questions
By Julia Lyskawa

The education field is full of challenges that we all want to solve. Teachers look for the best ways to help their students achieve their academic goals and social-emotional milestones. Principals want to know how they can be effective leaders. Curriculum directors want to select the best courses to challenge and prepare students for college and the future workforce. Whatever the question may be, finding the answer may seem daunting. Where should you start looking for an answer? Who has enough time to do a thorough search for information? Does an answer to your question even exist?  

The Ask A REL service can help. Ask A REL is a collaborative, free reference desk service provided by the 10 Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) that functions like a librarian. Members of the public can submit research-related questions about education policies, programs, and practices. Ask A REL provides annotated references, links to free, relevant research articles, and referrals as a one-stop, user-friendly answer to those questions.

How Does It Work?
After you submit a question, it is routed to a REL to begin preparing a response. REL staff consult with experts and search databases, including the National Library of Education and ERIC, to answer your question. Ask A REL may connect you to:

  • Relevant, peer-reviewed research reports sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences
  • Existing peer-reviewed education research, policy reports, and literature reviews
  • Websites of relevant, federally funded education organizations
  • Regionally specific information

Submit question

REL staff confirm and clarify question if needed

REL staff consult experts, search databases

REL prepares response

Requestor receives emailed response

Response posted on REL website

You can count on Ask A REL to connect you with the most recent, rigorous research and resources to answer your question. Because the summaries Ask A REL sends in response to your question are from publicly available research, you can explore each reference on your own for more detailed information. We may also refer you to other organizations that may be able to further assist you.

How Do I Submit a Question?
Submitting a question to Ask A REL is free and easy! Simply visit our website, provide your name, email, and state, and type your question. The REL that serves your state will review your question and follow up with you, if needed, to clarify your request. You can expect to receive an answer in as little as three weeks.  

Check Out the Ask A REL Archive
The Ask A REL archive gives everyone the opportunity to learn from the questions people submit to the Ask A REL service. You can search the archive by keyword or topic to see questions that have been submitted, along with the Ask A REL answers. Here are a few examples of recent Ask A REL inquiries. We look forward to hearing your questions!

Examples of Recent Ask A REL Inquiries

  • What does the recent research say about leadership coaching in K-12 education settings? What are the key features and characteristics of effective coaching models?
  • Are there any relatively current statistics on the percentage of students who graduate from high school with no college or career plan?
  • Are 90-minute classes effective for students in alternative education settings?
  • What does the research say about the use of incentives to promote independent reading in grades K-3?
  • Is there evidence on the importance of differentiated instruction to meet the needs of visual learners?