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Midwest Career Readiness Research Alliance

Click the link to see the full handout (in PDF format), which includes information about the alliance’s goals, members, and research agenda.

Download the alliance’s research agenda [422 KB PDF icon ]

Download the alliance’s overview handout [120 KB PDF icon ]

Partnership Facilitator

Dominique Bradley

Research Liaison

Amy Feygin

Partnership Objective

Ensuring that all students leave high school ready for careers is a high priority for education stakeholders across the Midwest. Navigating the labor market can be challenging for graduates as rapidly changing technology causes some jobs to disappear as others emerge. To ensure a competitive workforce, states are using research and data to understand how best to strengthen career readiness supports and align curricula and instruction with labor market needs.

The REL Midwest Career Readiness Research Alliance (MCRRA) brings together practitioners, policymakers, and researchers from the Midwest to increase the region’s capacity to access, conduct, interpret, and make sense of career readiness research, as well as to use this research in state- and local-level decisionmaking. Additionally, the alliance seeks to examine and address the opportunity gaps experienced by certain student groups. MCRRA’s primary focus is career readiness in Minnesota. In addition, a community of practice connects key stakeholders across the region and is an active partner in the research process.

The Minnesota Department of Education is seeking to improve students’ career readiness. In particular, the department is focusing on how to provide equitable access to career readiness opportunities, especially for students living in underserved communities.


  • Mary Barrie, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Brandon Brooks, Minnesota Alliance with Youth
  • Mimi Daniel, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
  • Thomas Delaney, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Kari-Ann Ediger, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Jane Harstad, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Troy Haugen, Lakes Country Service Cooperative
  • Michelle Kamenov, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Greg Keith, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Tim Lutz, Bemidji Area Schools
  • Paula Palmer, Minnesota Department of Education
  • JasRobyn Widley, Minnesota Department of Education
  • Leah Zimmerman, Minnesota School Counselors Association and Crookston High School

Training, Coaching, and Technical Support Projects

Environmental Scan of Minnesota Credit-Recovery Programs

REL Midwest is working with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to conduct an environmental scan that identifies the practices and programs used by Minnesota public school districts to support students’ credit-recovery efforts. In a series of coaching sessions, REL Midwest is supporting MDE through the process of using an environmental scan to gain a better understanding of existing programs and efforts in Minnesota that are targeted toward credit recovery for high school students. The coaching session materials will be made available on a rolling basis; the following are now online:

Iowa Department of Education College and Career Readiness Indicators Workgroup Coaching

In its Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan, the Iowa Department of Education identified postsecondary readiness as one of its school quality and student success indicators but did not specify how it would be measured. REL Midwest provided coaching to Iowa’s Postsecondary Readiness Indicator Workgroup to help the group develop the state’s postsecondary readiness indicator using a literature review of measures aligned to Iowa’s definition of postsecondary readiness and a scan of other states’ ESSA plans.

Networked Improvement Community Training

REL Midwest facilitated a one-day, in-person training to help the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Minnesota schools and districts understand the purposes and principles of networked improvement communities (NICs). Through this training, MDE and district and school staff explored the possibility of using NICs for continuous improvement efforts.

Supporting the Minnesota Department of Education to Strengthen Its Workforce

REL Midwest worked with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to better understand how state-level staff can support districts in implementing their World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) plans. REL Midwest conducted a review of WBWF plans from 200 districts and presented the information to MDE staff. With a better understanding of district WBWF plans, MDE staff and REL Midwest worked together to roll out training for districts to help them plan for implementing their WBWF plans. A memo summarizing the district scan and a recording of the webinar discussing the results will be published in 2018.

Works in Progress

The Postsecondary Pathways of Minnesota Public High School Graduates: Investigating Opportunity Gaps

In Minnesota, as in many other states, not all students have access to the types of educational experiences that are likely to lead to high-wage jobs. The Midwest Career Readiness Research Alliance is investigating the postsecondary pathways of Minnesota public high school graduates, focusing on opportunity gaps by high school locale and student characteristics. Drawing on data from Minnesota’s Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System, this study is examining students’ pathways immediately following high school graduation and labor market outcomes six years later.