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Works in Progress

REL Southwest conducts research to advance understanding of pressing education issues and support evidence-based decisionmaking in our region. We identify projects in collaboration with our research partnerships and other regional stakeholders, including our Governing Board. See also our training, coaching, and technical support projects.

American Indians

  • English Language Development Among American Indian English Learner Students in New Mexico
    This study was developed with members of the REL Southwest English Learners Research Partnership in New Mexico to better understand the progress toward English proficiency among American Indian English learner students, who comprise 17 percent of New Mexico’s English Learner students. This study will provide longitudinal evidence on progress toward English proficiency and grade-level readiness in English language arts and mathematics in the early grades among a population of American Indian English learner students in New Mexico. The study will examine two statewide cohorts of American Indian students classified as English learner students in kindergarten during the 2013/14 and 2014/15 school years in New Mexico public schools. The study will follow these students longitudinally for four years after the first kindergarten year. REL Southwest researchers will use descriptive statistics to examine students' English language development in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing; grade-level readiness based on the state achievement test; and the percentage of students who were reclassified as fluent English proficient within five years. The findings from this study will help REL Southwest partners identify language domains and grade levels in which American Indian English learner students may benefit from additional support and inform plans and guidelines for multicultural bilingual education programs serving American Indian students. Related research partnership: Southwest English Learner Students

College and Career Readiness

  • Alternative Career Readiness Measures for Small and Rural Districts in Texas
    In 2019, Texas House Bill 3 established a college, career, and military readiness outcomes bonus, with funding paid to public school districts for each annual high school graduate meeting college, career, or military readiness standards. In small and rural districts, limited resources can be obstacles to implementing high school career and technical education programs that culminate in the recognized postsecondary credentials necessary to meet the career readiness standards. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) wants to consider alternative career readiness standards that may be more attainable and as demonstrative of career readiness for students in small and rural districts. REL Southwest will examine the extent to which recent high school graduates in small and rural districts met career readiness standards as established by the outcomes bonus standards, and met potential alternative career readiness standards identified by TEA. The study will also examine whether students who met the established and alternative career readiness standards attained similar postsecondary college and career outcomes within one year of high school graduation. REL Southwest will use longitudinal data from a 2017/18 statewide cohort of graduates from Texas public high schools to conduct the study.

Early Childhood

  • Curricula Use Among State-funded Prekindergarten Teachers in Oklahoma
    REL Southwest is working with the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) and other partners to ensure that the free, state-funded prekindergarten (preK) education programs offered to 4-year-olds meet the needs of all students. The partnership’s focus includes supporting the use of evidence-based preK curricula that align to the Oklahoma Academic Standards. The selection and use of preK curricula is at the discretion of school districts, though OSDE endorses particular preK curricula to inform district decisions. This study will examine preK teachers’ reported use of curricula; perceptions and challenges related to use of curricula; and access to training on curricula, including an emphasis on state-endorsed curricula. REL Southwest will analyze teacher-reported data from a statewide survey of preK teachers, to be administered in the 2020/21 school year. Findings from the study will help guide OSDE’s efforts to target or revise resources and guidelines to support or expand the use of curricula within state-funded preK. Related research partnership: Southwest Early Childhood Education Research Partnership

English Learners

  • Characteristics and Outcomes Among Schools Granting and Students Receiving Biliteracy Seals in an Urban District
    New Mexico is one of 40 states currently offering a seal of biliteracy (or seal of bilingualism–biliteracy) to their graduating high school students. Quantitative research evidence is limited regarding the equitable allocation of seals of biliteracy across students and schools, and the benefits of earning a seal for students. This study will examine the characteristics of students in an urban district in New Mexico who earned biliteracy seals from school year 2017/18 through 2019/20 and the pathways students took to earn the seals. The study will provide insight into the composition of schools offering the seals, requirements that may serve as barriers to earning the seals, and the differences in postsecondary outcomes between students who earned and did not earn biliteracy seals. The New Mexico Public Education Department and the district can use study results as they review their biliteracy seal policies to expand the process of awarding seals, as well as to consider ways to reduce barriers to students obtaining seals. Related research partnership: Southwest English Learners
  • Effects of English Learner Student Reclassification on Student Achievement in New Mexico
    New Mexico requires English learner students to achieve a minimal score of 5.0 on the ACCESS for ELLs assessment, an English language proficiency assessment, to determine whether the students will be reclassified and exit English learner status. The New Mexico Public Education Department seeks to better understand whether the assessment threshold is appropriate for New Mexico students and the implications of reclassification for subsequent student outcomes. This study will examine two groups of similar English learner students: (1) students who attained an ACCESS for ELLs composite score at or above the 5.0 threshold and (2) students who attained a composite score just below 5.0 and remained classified as English learner students. The study will compare average achievement in English language arts and mathematics one year later between these two groups. The findings will help REL Southwest partners understand implications of the reclassification threshold and make decisions about requirements for reclassification. View the Data Management Plan. Related research partnership: Southwest English Learners
  • English Language Development Among American Indian English Learner Students in New Mexico
    This study was developed with members of the REL Southwest English Learners Research Partnership in New Mexico to better understand the progress toward English proficiency among American Indian English learner students, who comprise 17 percent of New Mexico’s English Learner students. This study will provide longitudinal evidence on progress toward English proficiency and grade-level readiness in English language arts and mathematics in the early grades among a population of American Indian English learner students in New Mexico. The study will examine two statewide cohorts of American Indian students classified as English learner students in kindergarten during the 2013/14 and 2014/15 school years in New Mexico public schools. The study will follow these students longitudinally for four years after the first kindergarten year. REL Southwest researchers will use descriptive statistics to examine students' English language development in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing; grade-level readiness based on the state achievement test; and the percentage of students who were reclassified as fluent English proficient within five years. The findings from this study will help REL Southwest partners identify language domains and grade levels in which American Indian English learner students may benefit from additional support and inform plans and guidelines for multicultural bilingual education programs serving American Indian students. Related research partnership: Southwest English Learner Students

School Improvement

  • Effects of a State-Defined Restart Strategy for Low-Performing Schools in Texas
    Beginning with the 2017/18 school year, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) established grant programs to provide applicant districts with financial support to design and implement strategic school improvement actions for Title I schools. School restart is one type of strategic action districts may implement with these grants. REL Southwest is using longitudinal administrative data, program records, and interviews with district and school leaders to study the school restart model and evaluate the effects on student, teacher, and principal outcomes. The study will provide evidence on whether school restart improved student and educator outcomes and whether the characteristics of students and staff changed after implementation. Results from this research will help TEA and school districts determine whether to continue expansion of the district-managed restart model as a strategy for improving schools. View the Data Management Plan. Related research partnership: Southwest School Improvement Research Partnership

Teacher Preparation

  • Outcomes of the Louisiana Believe and Prepare Educator Preparation Program
    The Louisiana Department of Education is seeking systematic evidence regarding the effects of the state’s Believe and Prepare teacher residency program. This initiative is designed to strengthen preservice teacher experiences by providing yearlong residencies under the guidance of a certified mentor teacher, emphasizing competency-based teacher preparation curricula, and setting standards for mentor development and certification. In this study, REL Southwest researchers will compare teacher and student outcomes for teacher candidates who were prepared before and after adoption of Believe and Prepare requirements. The study will include the 18 institutions of higher education that offered traditional undergraduate educator preparation programs in Louisiana in 2012/13 through 2019/20. The research team also will examine mechanisms through which the Believe and Prepare program may have influenced outcomes, including potential changes to teacher content knowledge, the school placement of early career teachers, and mentor attributes. Findings from this study will provide the Louisiana Department of Education and teacher preparation providers with evidence about whether Believe and Prepare is working as intended and more broadly, inform educators and policymakers about the benefits of teacher residencies and the types of preservice experiences encompassed in Believe and Prepare. View the Data Management Plan. Related research partnership: Southwest Teacher Preparation and Professional Development