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Midwest Alliance to Improve Knowledge Utilization

Contact

Jill Bowdon
jbowdon@air.org

Partnership Objective

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) calls on practitioners and policymakers in education to use rigorous evidence when deciding how to invest their resources. As a result, many education stakeholders across the Midwest are grappling with how to successfully equip state and local education agency staff to access, use, and disseminate research results.

The REL Midwest Alliance to Improve Knowledge Utilization (MAIKU) examines and shares effective strategies for increasing the uptake of research results by state and local education agency staff. MAIKU focuses on knowledge utilization in a variety of states across the Midwest region.

Educators based in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin are working with REL Midwest on projects in this area, ranging from research methods trainings to coaching on developing surveys and identifying evidence-based practices.

Members

  • Jon Bales, Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators
  • Heather Boughton, Ohio Department of Education
  • Kirk Hamilton, Buckeye Association of School Administrators
  • Venessa Keesler, Michigan Department of Education
  • Kurt Kiefer, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
  • Chris Wigent, Michigan Association of School Administrators

Training, Coaching, and Technical Support Projects

Wisconsin Technical College System Research Methods Training

REL Midwest is providing two training sessions for institutional researchers from the 16 colleges in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) to build participants’ data literacy, knowledge of research methods, and capacity to use data and research to improve their programs. The project includes two sessions: The first session provides an overview of research methodology, and the second covers strategies for communicating research findings. The sessions are tailored to align to the data sources and career and technical education programming of interest to WTCS participants.

Research Methods Training for Illinois State Board of Education Staff

REL Midwest is facilitating a five-part, in-person training series to build staff capacity at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to understand and apply research to support ISBE’s continued efforts to focus on evidence-based decision making. The trainings build on a previous series of trainings for Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction staff and have been tailored for ISBE.

Leadership Coaching for Organizational Learning

State education agencies face changing expectations from state and federal legislation, as well as public pressure to improve education for all students. In order to cope with this shifting landscape and improve student achievement, these agencies need to operate more strategically and efficiently. To help states navigate this transition, REL Midwest offers leadership coaching for state education agencies, including projects with the Ohio and Michigan departments of education.

Developing Plans for a Teacher Exit Survey

As part of the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE’s) work to understand teacher mobility and improve retention, ODE wants to provide districts with an instrument to collect data from teachers who are leaving their teaching positions. In December 2017, REL Midwest conducted a workshop on the topic that helped ODE staff clarify the project’s goals, create a timeline for survey development, and begin to define the survey content and administration guidance. Now, REL Midwest is supporting ODE staff as they develop the survey and plan for its use by districts through a nine-phase coaching project.

Evidence-based Intervention Clearinghouse Coaching

While states previously provided direct support to low-performing schools, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) now places more responsibility on districts by requiring them to select evidence-based interventions to help these schools improve. But how will districts know which programs meet this standard? With help from researchers at REL Midwest, ODE is working to fill this knowledge gap by creating tools to help districts identify evidence-based interventions. REL Midwest provided coaching to ODE staff and developed a crosswalk that allows practitioners and policymakers to determine the ESSA tier of evidence achieved by an intervention if it meets a particular research clearinghouse’s evidence standard.

Research Methods Training for Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Staff

REL Midwest provided a six-part training series for staff at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The sessions covered the fundamentals of research and evidence; the use and development of data collection methods, including surveys, focus groups, and rubrics; basic statistics; and communication of research findings. Workshop participants came from a variety of divisions across the department. The workshop content was developed in collaboration with DPI staff to ensure that the presentations and activities related to their work. The workshop agenda, presentation slides, and activity handouts will be made available on a rolling basis; the following are now online:

Costing Out an Appropriate Education for Ohio’s Gifted and Talented Students

REL Midwest partnered with ODE to develop and conduct a one-day, in-person training on best practices surrounding educational cost analysis. This helped inform the design of a study to measure the cost of providing adequate services for Ohio’s gifted and talented children. Training participants included ODE research staff, gifted and talented program leadership, and external researchers supporting ODE’s analysis.