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REL Southwest Roundup: Voices, Views, & News

Shared Insights on Using Knowledge to Improve Lives

Welcome to our blog, where we round up evidence, knowledge, and viewpoints from across the field of education, including insights from practitioners, administrators, and researchers. Have a story idea? Contact us!


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Louisiana launches statewide educator recruitment and retention recommendations

Em Cooper | March 23, 2022

Louisiana is launching its first statewide teacher recruitment and retention effort. This post highlights some new programs and strategies educators will see over the coming year.

A Texas school restart experience: Q&A with a Dallas Independent School District administrator

Q&A with Jolee Healey | March 9, 2022

Dallas Independent School District was the first district in Texas to implement the state’s district-managed school restart model in low-performing schools. Jolee Healey, deputy chief of priority schools and leadership development for the district, shares her perspective and advice on implementing this school turnaround strategy.

Resource roundup: Strategies to strengthen family outreach and engagement to support student learning

Joni Wackwitz | March 02, 2022

Ample research evidence suggests that developing strong partnerships among schools, families, and the community can benefit student learning, both in the classroom and at home. To support educators in using evidence-based family engagement practices, we rounded up recent research and resources on the topic from across the REL network.

Supporting state education agencies to design and implement Grow Your Own teacher programs

Elizabeth Barkowski | December 7, 2021

REL Southwest and the Texas Education Agency are working together to help school districts increase their teacher candidate pool and the diversity of their teacher workforce.

Examining CTE data: Insights from nine Texas districts

Jessica Giffin | November 30, 2021

REL Southwest supported Texas school districts in using data to inform their career and technical education programs’ comprehensive local needs assessments, as required by Perkins V, and to strengthen program design and implementation. This post shares participating districts’ insights and discoveries as they explored their programs’ data.

Resource roundup: Indicators of college and career readiness

Joni Wackwitz | November 30, 2021

We rounded up research and resources on indicators of college and career readiness from across the REL network. Knowing which indicators have strong predictive accuracy can help educators identify students who are off track and may need more support before it is too late.

Partnering with Arkansas to identify indicators that predict postsecondary readiness and success

Michelle Boyd | November 8, 2021

Our Southwest College and Career Readiness Research Partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education studied the state’s middle school and high school indicators of postsecondary readiness and success. Learn which indicators were strong predictors and read about our work underway to improve student outcomes and advance educational equity in the state.

Supporting American Indian English learner students

Traci Maday-Karageorge | September 15, 2021

As part of the work of our Southwest English Learners Research Partnership, REL Southwest developed a learning series to support New Mexico teachers’ implementation of culturally and linguistically responsive practices for American Indian English learners.

Mapping teacher workforce needs to strengthen the teacher pipeline: Using geographical information systems

Joni Wackwitz | September 15, 2021

In Louisiana, our Southwest Teacher Preparation and Professional Development Research Partnership is helping the state use GIS mapping technology to understand teacher workforce needs and strengthen the teacher pipeline.

How a REL Southwest research-practice partnership is addressing inequity in early childhood education

Katie Dahlke | June 1, 2021

REL Southwest and our partners in Oklahoma are working together to develop strategies for reducing inequity in early childhood education.

Resource roundup: A selection of REL tools for educators

Joni Wackwitz | June 1, 2021

This selection of REL tools provides guidance for educators on topics ranging from assessing the health of research-practice partnerships to improving literacy coaching and supporting newcomer immigrant and refugee students.

A new tool for assessing the health of research-practice partnerships

Elizabeth Barkowski | May 4, 2021

In research-practice partnerships, practitioners and researchers collaborate to address pressing education issues and improve student outcomes. This REL Southwest tool guides members in assessing partnership health and making adjustments as needed for success.

Seeking alternative career readiness options for Texas high school graduates

Susan Burkhauser | April 8, 2021

REL Southwest investigated college and career readiness among Texas graduates. The study focused on whether alternative career readiness measures helped small and rural districts support college and career outcomes.

Aligning high school career and technical education programs with top career pathways

Lynn Mellor | February 17, 2021

REL Southwest partnered with a Central Texas district to examine its career and technical education program offerings, their alignment with the local labor market, and how well they are preparing graduates for high-wage, in-demand careers or postsecondary education.

Resource roundup: Strengthening teacher preparation and support for new teachers

Joni Wackwitz | February 17, 2021

Many states face significant challenges ensuring all students have access to a high-quality teacher workforce. Browse this collection of REL resources for research and strategies to help strengthen teacher preparation and support new teachers.

Building a diverse educator workforce

Lisa Lachlan | January 28, 2021

Districts may lose—or fail to attract—teachers of color at multiple points in the educator pipeline. Lisa Lachlan, director of strategic partnerships for the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders, discusses actions for dismantling pipeline and workforce inequities.

Resource roundup: Career and technical education

Joni Wackwitz | November 16, 2020

These resources from the REL network highlight the growing research base on career and technical education (CTE), as well as federal guidance on CTE and ways to improve equity and school culture in CTE programs.

Creating a culture of continuous improvement through Oklahoma Excel

Marshal Conley | October 26, 2020

Two Oklahoma Excel improvement science champions reflect on why their districts decided to continue in the state program for a second year and expand their participation, in this final installment in our networked improvement communities series.

A principal’s perspective: Formative assessments in early childhood education and the impact of COVID-19 school closures

Jennifer McKay | September 29, 2020

Oklahoma principal Jennifer McKay shares her insights on formative assessments in early childhood settings and the effects of recent school shutdowns in this final post in our early learning blog series.

Walking in both worlds: How native language preservation benefits Native American English learners

Lacy Wood and Leslie Nail | August 28, 2020

We highlight our new mini-documentary, which explores strategies New Mexico educators are using to support Native American English learner students and preserve indigenous languages and culture.

Taking off our blindfolds, while we wear our masks

Tammie Causey-Konaté | August 3, 2020

Cultural trauma stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice is affecting many educators, students, and families. Tammie Causey-Konaté shares a four-step model to guide conversations and reflections for working through cultural trauma.

Teaming up to support New Mexico’s Seal of Bilingualism-Biliteracy

Leslie Nail | May 21, 2020

In New Mexico, high school graduates can earn a special State Seal of Bilingualism-Biliteracy along with their diplomas. REL Southwest and members of our Southwest English Learners Research Partnership are collaborating on a focus group study to support this New Mexico program.

View from the classroom: Formative assessments in early childhood education

Q&A with Rori Hodges | May 21, 2020

In the second installment of this series, Oklahoma practitioner Rori Hodges answers our questions about her experiences using formative assessments in prekindergarten classrooms.

A message from our director: REL Southwest’s COVID-19 response

Michael Vaden-Kiernan, Ph.D. | Apr. 1, 2020

The team at REL Southwest is working to support our partners’ and stakeholders’ evolving needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although our physical offices are temporarily closed, we continue to focus on our mission to promote meaningful improvements in outcomes for all learners.

Perkins V: Putting student futures first

Katherine Hughes | March 24, 2020

Perkins V, formally known as the Strengthening Career and Technical Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act, helps provide students with worthwhile CTE learning opportunities in economically viable fields.

Celebrating 2019 and looking ahead to 2020

Joni Wackwitz | March 4, 2020

As REL Southwest heads into a new year, we wanted to pause to celebrate some of our 2019 accomplishments and highlight some of the exciting new work underway.

New video supports formative assessment in early childhood classrooms: Every child shines

Leslie Nail | Feb. 25, 2020

Formative assessment is an effective way to learn about and support each child’s knowledge, skills, and behaviors. As an introduction to the topic, our new video highlights the value of early childhood formative assessment.

Individual learning plans: Students creating their pathways to postsecondary success

Helen Duffy | Jan. 10, 2020

Individual learning plans (ILPs) have gained widespread use. Senior researcher Helen Duffy explores the research base on the implementation and impact of ILPs.

The benefits of a research-practice partnership for early childhood education and state agencies

Tiffany Neill | Nov. 18, 2019

Tiffany Neill, with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, reflects on the benefits of partnering with REL Southwest to advance early childhood education.

Resource roundup: Special education and inclusion

Laura Checovich | Nov. 18, 2019

What does the research say about students with special needs in inclusive classrooms? Check out our roundup of resources from across the REL network and the Institute of Education Sciences to learn more.

Helping students thrive through Oklahoma Excel: Stories from a networked improvement community

Marshal Conley and Lacie Davenport | Nov. 05, 2019

We asked a district participant in Oklahoma Excel’s pilot program to take a look back at the pilot year and her experience in this networked improvement community, which is supported by a partnership between the Oklahoma State Department of Education and REL Southwest.

Ensuring an equitable education for all students: Remembering the Little Rock Nine

Joni Wackwitz | Aug. 30, 2019

To mark the 65th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, our spring Governing Board meeting in Arkansas began with a tour of Little Rock Central High School. Learn how the event is inspiring our work.

Working toward student success: REL Southwest Governing Board meeting

Leslie Nail | Aug. 19, 2019

At our spring Governing Board meeting in Little Rock, board members and staff worked together to ensure our work is relevant and actionable for educators in our region.

The power of logic models

Angelica Herrera, Jenna Zacamy, and Robin Means | Aug. 7, 2019

REL Southwest designed hands-on logic model training to help guide a school improvement program underway in Texas, as well as to support the state’s school improvement strategy and future initiatives.

Research-based, trauma-responsive education practices

Shannon Lasserre-Cortez | May 29, 2019

Looking for research and strategies on creating a trauma-sensitive classroom? This post presents information from three research experts and a teacher experienced in trauma-responsive practices.

Resource roundup: Trauma-responsive practices

Joni Wackwitz | May 29, 2019

Understanding trauma and its effects is critical for supporting student success. To assist educators, we rounded up resources on trauma-responsive practices from across the REL Program.

All aboard: Improving English learner instruction

Renee Russ | May 29, 2019

Learn how Clovis Municipal School District has redefined its approach to serving English learner students, in this final series installment from our Southwest English Learners Research Partnership.

Demystifying ESSA tiers of evidence and the selection of evidence-based practices

David English | Apr. 23, 2019

REL Southwest and the Oklahoma State Department of Education are partnering to help local education service providers and districts understand and apply tiers of evidence.

Educators explore integrated and designated English language development instruction for English learners

Brenda Arellano | Apr. 15, 2019

The latest post in the blog series from our Southwest English Learners research partnership highlights key learnings from a REL Southwest event on English language development.

Resource roundup: Social and emotional learning and school climate

Cora Goldston | Mar. 15, 2019

What does the research say about strategies to support students’ social and emotional development and sense of belonging? Check out our roundup of REL network resources on social and emotional learning and school climate.

Farmington Municipal Schools’ journey: Implementing an English language development program

Karen Garcia Brown | Mar. 15, 2019

A new series from our Southwest English Learners partnership explores English Language Development (ELD) models and implementation.

Working together: Building a foundation for college and career readiness in Arkansas

Helen Duffy, Candace Hester, Stephen Plank, and Laura Stein | Jan. 9, 2019

Learn how REL Southwest and the Arkansas Department of Education are addressing the need for evidence-based and locally relevant support for improving students’ college and career readiness.

Richardson Independent School District: Where all means all

Jeannie Stone | Dec. 17, 2018

The blog series from our Southwest School Improvement Research Partnership wraps up with this post by a district superintendent. Read about her district’s approach to removing barriers to student learning.

How long does it take Hispanic English learner students to reach English proficiency?

Lacy Wood | Nov. 20, 2018

Our latest video highlights factors that influence the time it takes Hispanic English learner students to gain English language and academic proficiency. The video is the second in a two-part series.

Fostering the champion that students (and schools) deserve

Levi Patrick | Nov. 19, 2018

Levi Patrick, assistant executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, describes how the Southwest Networked Improvement Communities research partnership is supporting Oklahoma’s Champions of Excellence Program.

Using research to support a System of Great Schools strategy

Susan Bowles Therriault, Ph.D | Oct. 15, 2018

A REL Southwest researcher adds her voice and perspective to our Southwest School Improvement Research Partnership blog series on supporting district and school improvement.

Cultivating English learner students’ home language reaps benefits for learning English

Marguerite Huber | Sep. 11, 2018

We highlight the relationship between English learner students’ initial Spanish proficiency and English language development in this video, the first in a two-part series.

How Louisiana supports new teachers with hands-on residencies

Cora Goldston | Sep. 11, 2018

Sara DeLano, executive director of Education Workforce for the Louisiana Department of Education, describes the agency’s efforts to implement a statewide residency program to support new teachers.

Resource roundup: Accelerating improvement through networked improvement communities

Joni Wackwitz | Sep. 11, 2018

Explore how to quickly test, refine, and scale up promising interventions through networked improvement communities. Get started with these curated resources from the REL Program and the Carnegie Foundation.

Taking an innovative approach: A System of Great Schools

Paul Pastorek and Duncan Klussmann | Aug. 27, 2018

Learn how Texas is empowering schools by supporting district leaders in this second post in our series from the Southwest School Improvement Research Partnership.

Midland on the move: Call for quality schools

Orlando Riddick and Elise Kail | June 28, 2018

Midland Independent School District is on the forefront of school improvement in Texas. This post kicks off a series from the Southwest School Improvement Research Partnership.

Research with impact: The RELs' field-initiated and high-leverage approach

Michael Vaden-Kiernan | June 28, 2018

REL Southwest's work focuses on education issues that are field-initiated and high leverage. But what does that mean? Learn more as we unpack the REL approach to research with impact.

Meet research partnership member Jessica Villalobos

Leslie Nail | June 28, 2018

Jessica Villalobos, who leads English learner programs and services for Albuquerque Public Schools, describes why she values the collaborative environment of the Southwest English Learners Research Partnership.

Federal network of education support

Cora Goldston | June 28, 2018

Learn more about the federally funded support available through U.S. Department of Education centers, including research, training, and coaching for state and local education staff.

AERA annual meeting showcases REL Southwest research

Marguerite Huber | June 28, 2018

REL Southwest researchers presented the results of six studies at the AERA annual meeting in New York City in April 2018.

REL Southwest Roundup: Bridging the gap from research to practice and policy

Leslie Nail | June 28, 2018

Welcome to the REL Southwest Roundup! Learn more about our goals for this blog, which will feature diverse insights on using education research.