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Works in Progress

REL Midwest conducts research studies and offers training, coaching, and technical support to address our partners’ research questions, provide policymakers and practitioners with information they need to make decisions, and build individual and organizational capacity to understand and use research in education policy and practice. We invite you to learn about our projects that are currently underway.

Works in Progress are posted after project proposals have gone through a rigorous peer review process.

College and Career Readiness

Examining the Association Between Attending Different Types of High Schools in Indiana and Success in High School and Early College

This study is examining the high school and college outcomes of four consecutive cohorts of Indiana students. The findings will provide new information on high school quality by examining the association between attending high schools of different types—traditional public high schools, public charter high schools, and private high schools that participate in the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program—and factors associated with students’ high school completion, college and career readiness, and early college success.

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.

Early Childhood

Analysis of Illinois District-Level Reading Achievement Outcomes in Kindergarten and Grade 1 by Student Characteristics

This descriptive study is examining whether reading achievement gaps observed in two districts in Illinois are present in kindergarten. If so, the study will examine whether those gaps widen for some subgroups of students more than others as they move across kindergarten into grade 1.

Children’s Knowledge and Skills at Kindergarten Entry in Illinois: Results From the First Statewide Administration of the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is implementing a new, statewide kindergarten entry assessment titled Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS). Researchers in REL Midwest’s Midwest Early Childhood Education Research Alliance (MECERA) will use quantitative data collected from KIDS to answer research questions about the psychometric properties of the data, the levels of skills children in Illinois have at kindergarten entry, and variations in these skills levels across subgroups and schools. In addition, researchers will collect information on barriers or obstacles that teachers and principals face during data collection to inform revisions to state-provided guidance or training.

Educator Effectiveness

Initial Findings on a Culturally Responsive Practices Professional Development Training Program in Wisconsin

Improving educational outcomes among Black students is a priority in Wisconsin, and stakeholders formed the Midwest Achievement Gap Research Alliance to address this issue. One topic that the alliance prioritized is understanding how culturally responsive practices are related to student and school outcomes. This study will examine a culturally responsive practices professional development training program to determine whether completing this program is related to school outcomes.

Research Tools

Assessing the Implementation of the Iowa Learning and Technology Networked Improvement Community: An Applied Research Methods Report

This study is evaluating the Iowa Learning and Technology Networked Improvement Community and sharing a methodology for evaluating the implementation of networked improvement communities (NICs). The first part of this two-part project is a formative evaluation that assesses the functioning of the NIC. The second is an applied research methods report that describes a methodology for conducting a formative evaluation of the implementation of NICs.

Teacher Preparation

Characteristics of and Outcomes for Students who Pursued an Education Major in Indiana’s Teacher Preparation Programs

The study is describing the characteristics of students who enrolled in Indiana’s teacher preparation institutions and examining the extent to which they persisted in and graduated from a teacher preparation program, entered into teaching, and succeeded in Indiana’s public schools.

Teacher Workforce

Teachers Who Do Not Teach: Who Are They and What Would Motivate Their Return to Teaching?

In Michigan, public school students’ access to effective teachers is hindered by teacher shortages in rural and urban regions of the state and in certain subjects. Yet the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) estimates that approximately 105,000 teacher certificate holders who currently reside in Michigan do not teach. This study is providing MDE with information about the characteristics of nonteaching certificate holders, their reasons for leaving or never entering the teaching profession, and the incentives that could encourage them to enter or reenter the profession.

Examining Teacher Shortage and Surplus in Michigan

This study will examine existing teacher-, school-, and district-level data from school years 2008/09 to 2015/16 to describe patterns and trends in the supply and demand of teachers and teacher shortage and surplus in public schools in Michigan. In addition, the study will project teacher shortage and surplus in Michigan during the next five years.