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Informed by district-level experience: Spotlight on Matt Linick

Informed by district-level experience: Matt Linick

By Cora Goldston
June 25, 2020

The work we do at Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest is informed by the needs of our state and local education partners. Understanding those needs is crucial to ensuring that our work is relevant and timely, and many of REL Midwest’s staff have firsthand experience working at districts or schools.

One example is Matt Linick, Ph.D., who came to REL Midwest from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), where he was executive director of research and evaluation. Dr. Linick brings a strong understanding of district priorities and resources to his role as a senior researcher for REL Midwest.

Partnership building was a key part of Dr. Linick’s job at CMSD. “We built relationships with the Metro Hospital System and worked closely with Case Western Reserve University to support the needs of Cleveland students … and to administer and apply data from the Youth Behavior Risk Survey,” he notes.

>> Watch REL Midwest’s documentary Healthy Students = Strong Learners to find out more about Ohio’s efforts to coordinate health and education supports for all students.

In addition to working with Cleveland-based partners while at CMSD, Dr. Linick developed relationships with the REL network, including both REL Central and REL Midwest. He recalls how the initial partnership with REL Midwest formed: “I began working with Lyzz Davis, a principal researcher at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), which administers REL Midwest, on the Conditions for Learning Survey. After that, CMSD, AIR, and Cleveland State University formed a research-practice partnership, the Cleveland Alliance for Education Research, to support each other and pursue other research projects.”

The connection with this alliance opened up opportunities for CMSD and REL Midwest to collaborate on district efforts to serve all students. “CMSD and REL Midwest worked together to support the district’s expanding English learner population through the Cleveland Collaboration for English Learner Success,” Dr. Linick relates. “The CMSD Multicultural Multilingual Education Office is very passionate about meeting the needs of the district’s diverse English learner students and families.”

>> To learn more about the CMSD Multicultural Multilingual Education Office, watch REL Midwest’s documentary Learning English: Diverse Students in American Classrooms.

Dr. Linick also worked with REL Midwest to strengthen CMSD’s overall research capacity as a district. “REL Midwest hosted a train-the-trainer session for the CMSD research and accountability teams,” he notes, adding that he also shared REL Midwest resources to support ongoing work. “The Ask a REL reference desk responses are very valuable resources. When I was at CMSD, I referred people to the Ask a REL to find education research on various topics,” Dr. Linick says.

After partnering on the Cleveland Collaboration and serving as a member of REL Midwest’s governing board, Dr. Linick decided to join the REL Midwest team in 2019. He now works on a variety of REL Midwest projects with state and district partners, including the following:

  • Equitable school discipline. Dr. Linick is working with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to explore statewide discipline outcomes, with the goal of mitigating discipline disparities. “There’s a lot of subjectivity in how school discipline occurs and how it’s reported,” he explains, “so there is a need to work with schools and districts to help dig into and respond to the data.”
  • Research agenda setting. Dr. Linick is providing coaching for the Illinois State Board of Education’s new research and evaluation group. REL Midwest hosted a brown bag session on project management and worked with the agency to prioritize topics for coaching sessions. In the near future, Dr. Linick will lead a train-the-trainer session on setting a research agenda.
  • Evidence use. Dr. Linick is working with the Ohio Department of Education to review and apply research evidence from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC). He also works on other WWC projects. For REL Midwest, he has conducted trainings about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the ESSA tiers of evidence for the Michigan Data Hub. Dr. Linick also represents REL Midwest on the cross-REL ESSA workgroup.

>> Watch this video to learn how CMSD used WWC resources to help school principals make research-based decisions about implementing programs and practices.

Dr. Linick’s district leadership experience has helped REL Midwest expand and strengthen our reach and communication with state and local education leaders. “Getting evidence in front of decisionmakers and making it understandable and actionable is the most important part of our work,” he concludes.

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Author Information

Cora Goldston Staff Picture

Cora Goldston

Communications Specialist | REL Midwest


Beating the odds (2)

Charter Schools (2)

College and Career Readiness (42)

Data Use (32)

Discipline (4)

Early Childhood (31)

Educator Effectiveness (36)

English Learners (10)

Literacy (11)

Math (1)

Online Courses (7)

Research Tools (2)

Rural (14)

Teacher Preparation (24)

Teacher Recruitment (2)

Teacher Retention (2)

Teacher Workforce (14)

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