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Training, Coaching, & Technical Support

REL Southwest provides training, coaching, and technical support to build regional capacity in using data and research evidence to inform education policy, programs, and practice—with the ultimate goal of improving student outcomes. We identify projects in collaboration with our research partnerships and other regional stakeholders, including our Governing Board. See also our research works in progress.

American Indians

  • Teacher and Principal Evaluations for Schools Serving American Indians
    REL Southwest is supporting the design process of a teacher and principal evaluation system for schools that serve American Indian students—one large school in New Mexico with 100 percent American Indian student enrollment and two districts in Oklahoma with large American Indian student populations. With REL Southwest’s support, the partners are developing their teacher and principal evaluation systems that are research-informed and reflective of local school district priorities, particularly with respect to culturally relevant practices for their American Indian communities. The teams are working on developing definitions of effective teachers and principals in their local context, refining standards and developing rubrics describing levels of performance in alignment with the refined standards, selecting measures (for example, observation tools) that gather relevant data on performance quality, and are considering student outcomes measures that may be used in the evaluation systems. In addition, the team is developing guidebooks that describe the evaluation procedures and business rules. The short-term outcomes of this work will be the completion of the evaluation system designs ready to pilot, and REL Southwest anticipates the longer-term outcomes will include the adoption of principal and teacher evaluation systems that will promote effective teaching and school leadership that is responsive and appropriate to the local American Indian communities.
  • Evidence Review and Training on Instructional Practices for American Indian English Learner Students
    REL Southwest is engaging New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) staff and New Mexico educators in a two-phase process to develop a suite of instructional resources that support American Indian English learners. During phase one, REL Southwest completed an evidence review for methods specific to American Indian students that are effective in incorporating relevant American Indian cultural traditions and pedagogy. During phase two, REL Southwest and NMPED will collaborate on resources that merge understandings from the evidence review with components of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Facilitator’s Guidewhich is aligned with the Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School educator’s practice guide from the What Works ClearinghouseThe resources will be used in a pilot training for educators. This project addresses a need for high-quality instructional resources specific to American Indian English learners. The results of this project will be improved understanding of instructional practices to improve academic English for American Indian English learners. Related research partnership: Southwest English Learners
  • Coaching to Support a Focus Group Study of Biliteracy Seal Implementation
    The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) offers a state Biliteracy-Bilingualism Seal, which students can earn with their high school diploma. To qualify, students must demonstrate biliteracy proficiency through one of four pathways (including a pathway for Native American tribal language certification by an individual tribe). Through a series of coaching sessions, REL Southwest is assisting NMPED in conducting a focus group study to better understand the approaches and challenges districts and schools face as they promote and implement the Biliteracy-Bilingualism Seal. Coaching support includes helping NMPED partners design the study, develop focus group protocols, learn moderator techniques, conduct the focus groups, and analyze the qualitative results. Last, REL Southwest staff will coach NMPED in using the findings from their study to inform guidance and resource supports for districts and schools implementing the Biliteracy-Bilingualism Seal program that will address common challenges in implementation. Improving these supports is expected to improve the quality of the Seal program, and increase the number of students who pursue and earn the Seal in the state. Related research partnership: Southwest English Learners

College and Career Readiness

  • Understanding the Alignment of Arkansas College and Career Readiness Indicators with the Employability Skills Framework
    The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) is committed to ensuring that every student graduates ready for college, career, and community engagement. To enhance ADE’s understanding of the skills a student must master to demonstrate readiness and use this information to help ADE consider which of their indicators to prioritize as they support districts, REL Southwest led three training sessions to guide ADE staff in assessing the alignment of their college and career readiness indicators to the research-based Employability Skills Framework (ESF). In the first session, REL Southwest staff introduced participants to the ESF and a matrix for documenting evidence to determine whether students are mastering specific skills outlined in the ESF. In the second session, REL Southwest staff aided participants in completing the matrix and facilitated a group discussion of alignment and gaps between state indicators and skills from the ESF. During the final session, ADE participants reviewed the results of the alignment activities, reflected on what they had learned from those activities, and identified implications for their college and career readiness work internally and with external partners. View archived resources. Related research partnership: Southwest College and Career Readiness

Data Use

  • Believe and Prepare Principal and Mentor Teacher Survey Data Analysis and Use Coaching: Louisiana Department of Education
    In 2016, in response to a long-standing teacher shortage in the state, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) established the Believe and Prepare teacher residency program. In summer 2019, REL Southwest worked with LDOE to develop and pilot surveys of resident teachers, mentor teachers, and principals participating in the Believe and Prepare program. To help LDOE evaluate the results of the 2019 pilot of the Believe and Prepare surveys, REL Southwest is conducting a quality review of the survey item data and a psychometric analysis of the proposed scales during a three-session coaching project. The coaching sessions have three main goals: (1) evaluate and revise items in the three Believe and Prepare survey instruments, if necessary, based on the REL-provided scale validation and single-item review; (2) help LDOE plan for the 2020 survey administration based on LDOE pilot experiences; and (3) work with LDOE on the analysis plan of the 2020 data, including variables or links to existing data to support nonresponse bias analysis and subgroup comparisons. Related research partnership: Southwest Teacher Preparation and Professional Development
  • In-Depth Coaching and Consultation to Build the Capacity of the Oklahoma State Department of Education to Establish, Manage, and Support Networked Improvement Communities
    REL Southwest conducted a series of seven coaching sessions for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to build the capacity of staff to establish, manage, and sustain districts’ continuous improvement efforts within Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) to support local education agencies in developing effective practices aligned with Oklahoma Programs of Excellence rubrics. Local education agencies use the OSDE-developed Programs of Excellence rubrics for school programs in six content areas: fine arts, mathematics, science, social studies and civics, world languages, and safe and healthy schools. REL Southwest worked with OSDE to develop their understanding of continuous improvement principals and processes including root cause analysis, theory of action, aim statements, drivers, outcome measures, plan-do-study-act cycles, and key considerations for establishing and managing successful NICs. The goals of the project were to support OSDE’s work to create and run NICs that will help districts improve instructional practices which in turn will improve student learning. Related research partnership: Southwest Networked Improvement Communities
  • In-Depth Coaching and Consultation to Support Oklahoma State Department of Education in Planning, Implementing, and Measuring the Success of Pilot Networked Improvement Communities
    REL Southwest conducted four coaching activities and provided continuing consultation for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to support the implementation of pilot networked improvement communities (NICs) among districts participating in the Oklahoma Champions of Excellence program. REL Southwest built capacity within OSDE to develop measurement tools and strategies for NIC aims in the pilot and to refine and improve NIC supports as a result of lessons learned from the pilot. Specifically, districts participating in this pilot engaged in plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles to implement and test change ideas related to creating trusting, positive relationships between students and staff and integrating driving question boards and modeling as practices in elementary science instruction. The goal of this coaching was to support OSDE as they managed the pilot NICs and then collaboratively reflect on lessons learned to understand the strengths, areas for improvement, and develop plans to scale the pilot to make NICs available to all Champions of Excellence grantees in the 2019/20 school year. The coaching project helped OSDE expand their efforts to support more districts and schools to use continuous improvement processes within NICs aimed at improving instructional practices which in turn are expected to improve student outcomes. Related research partnership: Southwest Networked Improvement Communities
  • In-Depth Coaching and Consultation to Support Oklahoma State Department of Education: Spreading Innovation Through Improvement Science
    Through coaching and consultation, REL Southwest is supporting the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in developing content-area networked improvement communities (NICs) as part of the Oklahoma Excel initiative and assembling a team to support those NICs. This project builds off of the progress made in prior coaching with OSDE Curriculum and Instruction Division staff to learn about continuous improvement processes and to pilot NICs. REL Southwest staff is assisting the Oklahoma Excel team in leveraging people and products from the 2019 NIC pilot to conduct the work with a larger set of schools. In addition, REL Southwest will assist the team in developing a measurement strategy to assess the Division’s theory of improvement to better understand if the NICs are achieving their goal to improve instruction and student outcomes. Related research partnership: Southwest Networked Improvement Communities

Early Childhood

  • Coaching to Support the Selection of an Early Learning Inventory
    This coaching project is part of a larger effort to support the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in using an early learning inventory (ELI) to assess children’s knowledge and skills at kindergarten entry and to provide data to improve state-funded early learning programs. The project had two primary goals: (1) to build OSDE capacity to identify and apply evidence about the validity and feasibility of early learning assessments to support planning for an ELI pilot study; and (2) to build OSDE capacity to communicate and disseminate information to teachers, principals, early childhood education advocates, and policymakers about the scientific rationale for piloting an ELI. The coaching sessions equipped OSDE staff with information to make an evidence-based decision about selecting an ELI for a pilot study. Related research partnership: Southwest Early Childhood Education Research Partnership
  • Coaching to Build State Capacity to Develop and Administer a Prekindergarten Teacher Survey About Curricula and Instructional Practices
    This coaching project is intended to build the capacity of the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to develop and administer a survey to prekindergarten teachers about their curriculum use, curriculum training, and instructional practices. Through a series of workshops, REL Southwest coached OSDE on best practices for survey development, administration, data analysis, and data use. OSDE and REL Southwest then collaborated to develop and pretest a survey for administration in fall 2019. REL Southwest will analyze the results in spring 2020 and then coach OSDE on using the findings about the prekindergarten curricula landscape to inform professional development strategies and policy. In addition, OSDE plans to apply the skills that staff gain through this project to develop and administer annual surveys to continue to study the state’s universal prekindergarten programs. Related research partnership: Southwest Early Childhood Education Research Partnership
  • Strengthening Assessment Review Processes, Rubrics, and Reliability to Support the Implementation of the Reading Sufficiency Act
    The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) requested support to conduct a review of high-quality, evidence-based measures for inclusion in an approved list of screening instruments for early literacy skills in kindergarten through grade 3 to support the implementation of the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA). Specifically, OSDE wanted to increase its capacity to implement reliably a coding rubric to evaluate the quality (reliability and validity) of submitted RSA assessments and their evidence base (predictive validity) so as to finalize a list of approved measures to guide districts and schools. In this coaching project, REL Southwest and OSDE staff worked collaboratively to review and establish a rating rubric, review screening assessments submitted for consideration, and finalize a list of RSA screening instruments for review by the Oklahoma State Board of Education.
  • Planning for an Early Learning Inventory Pilot Study
    This coaching project is part of a larger effort to support the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) in using an early learning inventory (ELI) to assess children’s knowledge and skills at kindergarten entry and to provide data to improve state-funded early learning programs. Through a series of coaching sessions, REL Southwest and OSDE staff adapted an existing ELI for use in a pilot study, developed resources and training materials to support teachers in implementing the ELI for the pilot study, recruited local education agencies to participate in the pilot study, and developed data collection measures to learn about implementation challenges and teacher outcomes from the ELI pilot study. The goals of the coaching project were to help OSDE create a pilot study of ELI implementation that would provide data to inform the training resources and guidance necessary to promote a successful state roll-out of the voluntary ELI. View archived resources. Related research partnership: Southwest Early Childhood Education

English Learners

  • Establishing a User Guide for the Enhanced Serving English Learners Monitoring Checklist
    This coaching project continues REL Southwest’s collaboration with the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) to strengthen their programs for English learners. Scheduled to begin in December 2020, the project consists of a series of coaching sessions to cocreate with NMPED staff a user guide for the Enhanced Serving English Learners Monitoring Checklist. The user guide will be designed for teachers, site administrators, and district administrators to support implementation of research-based practices in the enhanced checklist. This project will support educators with identifying effective instructional practices for English learner students and increase the use of these practices in New Mexico classrooms. Additionally, the project will increase NMPED’s understanding of research-based English learner instructional practices by developing a process map and resources including a how-to page on using the Enhanced Serving English Learners Monitoring Checklist. Related research partnership: Southwest English Learners
  • Implementing the Enhanced Serving English Learners Monitoring Checklist
    This project trains and supports staff from the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) and three districts, Albuquerque Public Schools, Clovis Municipal Schools, and Central Consolidated School District, to use research-based practices for English learner students. REL Southwest is training teams from the districts to use continuous improvement principles and tools for implementing practices in the Enhanced Serving English Learners Monitoring Checklist, a tool developed by REL Southwest and NMPED. The enhanced checklist includes research-based practices drawn from two What Works Clearinghouse practice guides: Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School and Effective Literacy and English Language Instruction for English Learners in the Elementary Grades. The project supports NMPED’s goals of strengthening programs that help English learners meet academic and English language proficiency growth targets. Project results will guide NMPED and educators in New Mexico with learning and applying continuous improvement tools to test and implement research-based practices for English learner students. Related research partnership: Southwest English Learners
  • Evidence Review and Training on Instructional Practices for American Indian English Learner Students
    REL Southwest is engaging New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) staff and New Mexico educators in a two-phase process to develop a suite of instructional resources that support American Indian English learners. During phase one, REL Southwest completed an evidence review for methods specific to American Indian students that are effective in incorporating relevant American Indian cultural traditions and pedagogy. During phase two, REL Southwest and NMPED will collaborate on resources that merge understandings from the evidence review with components of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Facilitator’s Guidewhich is aligned with the Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School educator’s practice guide from the What Works ClearinghouseThe resources will be used in a pilot training for educators. This project addresses a need for high-quality instructional resources specific to American Indian English learners. The results of this project will be improved understanding of instructional practices to improve academic English for American Indian English learners. Related research partnership: Southwest English Learners
  • Coaching to Support a Focus Group Study of Biliteracy Seal Implementation
    The New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) offers a state Biliteracy-Bilingualism Seal, which students can earn with their high school diploma. To qualify, students must demonstrate biliteracy proficiency through one of four pathways (including a pathway for Native American tribal language certification by an individual tribe). Through a series of coaching sessions, REL Southwest is assisting NMPED in conducting a focus group study to better understand the approaches and challenges districts and schools face as they promote and implement the Biliteracy-Bilingualism Seal. Coaching support includes helping NMPED partners design the study, develop focus group protocols, learn moderator techniques, conduct the focus groups, and analyze the qualitative results. Last, REL Southwest staff will coach NMPED in using the findings from their study to inform guidance and resource supports for districts and schools implementing the Biliteracy-Bilingualism Seal program that will address common challenges in implementation. Improving these supports is expected to improve the quality of the Seal program, and increase the number of students who pursue and earn the Seal in the state. Related research partnership: Southwest English Learners

ESSA

  • Evidence-Based Practices Coaching: Oklahoma State Department of Education
    Evidence-based practices (EBPs) are informed and supported by rigorous research that demonstrates consistent, positive impacts on student outcomes. As of the 2018/19 school year, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that education leaders include EBPs in improvement plans for low-performing schools. Under ESSA, schools receiving federal funding must use EBPs for specific programs as indicated in Title I, Title II, and Title IV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. To support ESSA compliance, this REL Southwest coaching project built the capacity of staff at the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to identify and select EBPs and apply the knowledge to the OSDE school improvement process. The project included the co-development of a set of sessions and resources for OSDE, local education service providers, and districts and schools to highlight the alignment of ESSA requirements for EBPs with the Oklahoma 9 Essential Elements of Effective Schools. View archived resources.

Literacy

  • Strengthening Assessment Review Processes, Rubrics, and Reliability to Support the Implementation of the Reading Sufficiency Act
    The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) requested support to conduct a review of high-quality, evidence-based measures for inclusion in an approved list of screening instruments for early literacy skills in kindergarten through grade 3 to support the implementation of the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA). Specifically, OSDE wanted to increase its capacity to implement reliably a coding rubric to evaluate the quality (reliability and validity) of submitted RSA assessments and their evidence base (predictive validity) so as to finalize a list of approved measures to guide districts and schools. In this coaching project, REL Southwest and OSDE staff worked collaboratively to review and establish a rating rubric, review screening assessments submitted for consideration, and finalize a list of RSA screening instruments for review by the Oklahoma State Board of Education.

Research Tools

  • Using Logic Modeling for Statewide School Improvement Efforts Training
    This REL Southwest project built the capacity of the Southwest School Improvement Research Partnership to develop and use logic models to conceptualize school improvement initiatives in a way that will enhance the state’s ability to support district implementation and monitoring of school actions for school reform. The project began with a general introduction to logic modeling and how logic models can be used to support program development, monitoring, and evaluation and was followed with a training on how to use logic models for three school actions: reassign, restart (partner- or district-managed), and new school (partner- or district-managed). By supporting our Texas Education Agency (TEA) partners’ understanding of the connections between system-level supports provided to districts, actions districts take, and the data needed to monitor implementation and effectiveness of school improvement initiatives, this project intended to help TEA use logic models to better understand school improvement efforts as well as communicate to districts how to plan for and implement school actions. View archived resources. Related research partnership: Southwest School Improvement

School Improvement

  • Inventorying Data Collected in Texas Districts Participating in the System of Great Schools
    The goal of this coaching project is to guide the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in developing a data inventory and effective data collection practices for the System of Great Schools (SGS) initiative. By taking these steps early in the initiative’s implementation, TEA staff can help ensure they collect the data from SGS districts needed to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the initiative and its related outcomes. As part of the project, REL Southwest, in consultation with TEA, will create an SGS Data Collection and Management Guide, which will outline data currently collected, additional data that could be collected, best practices for collecting each type of data, and what questions the various data sources can help answer. Related research partnership: Southwest School Improvement Research Partnership
  • Using Logic Modeling for Statewide School Improvement Efforts Training
    This REL Southwest project built the capacity of the Southwest School Improvement Research Partnership to develop and use logic models to conceptualize school improvement initiatives in a way that will enhance the state’s ability to support district implementation and monitoring of school actions for school reform. The project began with a general introduction to logic modeling and how logic models can be used to support program development, monitoring, and evaluation and was followed with a training on how to use logic models for three school actions: reassign, restart (partner- or district-managed), and new school (partner- or district-managed). By supporting our Texas Education Agency (TEA) partners’ understanding of the connections between system-level supports provided to districts, actions districts take, and the data needed to monitor implementation and effectiveness of school improvement initiatives, this project intended to help TEA use logic models to better understand school improvement efforts as well as communicate to districts how to plan for and implement school actions. View archived resources. Related research partnership: Southwest School Improvement

Teacher Preparation

  • Believe and Prepare Principal and Mentor Teacher Survey Data Analysis and Use Coaching: Louisiana Department of Education
    In 2016, in response to a long-standing teacher shortage in the state, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) established the Believe and Prepare teacher residency program. In summer 2019, REL Southwest worked with LDOE to develop and pilot surveys of resident teachers, mentor teachers, and principals participating in the Believe and Prepare program. To help LDOE evaluate the results of the 2019 pilot of the Believe and Prepare surveys, REL Southwest is conducting a quality review of the survey item data and a psychometric analysis of the proposed scales during a three-session coaching project. The coaching sessions have three main goals: (1) evaluate and revise items in the three Believe and Prepare survey instruments, if necessary, based on the REL-provided scale validation and single-item review; (2) help LDOE plan for the 2020 survey administration based on LDOE pilot experiences; and (3) work with LDOE on the analysis plan of the 2020 data, including variables or links to existing data to support nonresponse bias analysis and subgroup comparisons. Related research partnership: Southwest Teacher Preparation and Professional Development