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Resource roundup: A selection of REL tools for educators

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by Joni Wackwitz | June 1, 2021

For educators, the hazy days of summer include planning for the coming school year. To help, we rounded up a selection of tools from the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) network to provide guidance on topics ranging from assessing the health of research-practice partnerships to improving literacy coaching and supporting newcomer immigrant and refugee students.

Tools to support research, data use, and continuous improvement

Assessing the Health of Research-Practice Partnerships

Research-practice partnerships bring together stakeholders with multiple perspectives to address challenges, conduct research, test solutions, and ultimately improve student outcomes. This REL Southwest tool provides guidance on formatively assessing and continuously improving the health of research-practice partnerships and is designed so even individuals with limited partnership or evaluation experience can use it. A related infographic describing this tool is also available.

Using Logic Modeling for Statewide School Improvement Efforts

Logic models are visual roadmaps that help educators plan, implement, and evaluate programs and initiatives. This REL Southwest tool and training series, co-developed with the Texas Education Agency to support district school improvement efforts, can help educators develop and use logic models to guide a range of programs and initiatives.

Toolkit for Assessing Learning Changes After Spring 2020 COVID-19 School Closures

As more students return to the classroom, districts can use this REL Midwest toolkit to help identify learning changes related to the pandemic and take action to address students’ learning needs. A recorded training session on using the toolkit is available as well.

Continuous Improvement in Education: A Toolkit for Schools and Districts

REL Northeast & Islands’ toolkit assists school- and district-based practitioners in engaging in a continuous improvement process that involves identifying a problem of practice and testing changes or interventions through a series of iterative Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles. The kit includes tools and resources that practitioners can use to implement a continuous improvement effort in their own schools, districts, or agencies.

Early Childhood Data Use Assessment Tool

This REL Central tool is designed to assess and build data use skills among early childhood education program staff so they can better use data to inform, plan, monitor, and make decisions for instruction and program improvement.

Creating and Using Performance Assessment: An Online Course for Practitioners

This self-paced online course from REL Northeast & Islands provides practitioners, instructional leaders, and administrators with detailed information on creating and using performance assessments. The five 30-minute modules cover foundational concepts of assessment literacy; how to develop, score, and use performance assessments; and the role of performance assessment within a comprehensive assessment system.

Tools to support college, career, and civic readiness

Self-Study Guide for Career Readiness in Secondary Schools

State and local education agencies can use this REL Southeast self-study guide to assess the implementation of career readiness practices across a district or secondary school. Through a process of ongoing discussion, evidence use, and self-assessment, the tool helps states, districts, and secondary schools improve the effectiveness of career readiness practices.

Steps to Develop a Model to Estimate School- and District-Level Postsecondary Success

This REL Central tool assists state and local education agencies in developing a statistical model for estimating student postsecondary success at the school or district level. Agencies can use the information generated by the model to help meet federal and state reporting requirements and to inform their own efforts to improve students’ postsecondary success.

Developing a Survey Instrument to Measure Civic Readiness

Another REL Central tool supports education agencies in identifying, comparing, and contrasting survey scales that measure a variety of civic readiness categories. The tool describes the format and structure of survey scales, details the civic readiness categories measured by the scales, and summarizes the reliability and validity evidence associated with the scales.

Tools to support instruction for early childhood, literacy, and English learner students

Supporting Young Children's Learning and Development at Home: Resources for Early Childhood Educators and Caregivers 

This REL Southwest tool, developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, includes two searchable spreadsheets of resources that educators and caregivers can use to support young children's learning and development at home. A related webinar, “Supporting Families in Promoting Early Learning at Home,” discusses how to use the tool.

Teacher’s Guides to Supporting Family Involvement in Foundational Reading Skills

To support early literacy at home, this series of teacher’s guides from REL Southeast and the Georgia Department of Education provide grade-specific guidance that teachers can use with families to encourage and facilitate literacy support for children in the home. Guides are available for kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, and grade 3. A suite of related family activities and videos are available as well.

Self-Study Guide for Evidence-Based Coaching for Literacy: PreK–Grade 12

Also from REL Southeast, this self-study guide is designed to improve the effectiveness of literacy coaching and thereby increase the knowledge and ability of teachers to implement evidence-based instructional practices. Using the guide, administrators, teacher leaders, and coaches can collect data to determine which components of literacy coaching to prioritize.

Integrating Reading Foundations: A Tool for College Instructors of Pre‑Service Teachers

Designed for teacher preparation programs, this REL Southeast tool helps build pre-service teachers’ knowledge of evidence-based strategies that help students in kindergarten through grade 3 acquire the language and literacy skills to succeed academically. The tool is intended for use in conjunction with the What Works ClearinghouseTM (WWC) practice guide Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade.

Professional Learning Communities Facilitator's Guide for the Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School Practice Guide 
This REL Southwest toolkit includes a facilitator's guide, activities, handouts, and a video series designed to assist teachers who are participating in professional learning communities in applying the evidence-based recommendations in the WWC practice guide Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School.

Tools to support newcomer immigrant and refugee students

Welcoming, Registering, and Supporting Newcomer Students: A Toolkit for Educators of Immigrant and Refugee Students in Secondary Schools

Immigrant and refugee students arrive in the United States with a variety of experiences, strengths, and assets. REL Northwest developed this toolkit to help educators identify and use research-based policies, practices, and procedures to welcome, register, and support newcomer immigrant and refugee students who are attending U.S. secondary schools.

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Author Information

Joni Wackwitz photo

Joni Wackwitz

Senior Communications Specialist | REL Southwest

jwackwitz@air.org