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About REL Appalachia

Regional Educational Lab (REL) Appalachia partners with key stakeholders in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia to develop evidence that can inform consequential decisions about policy, programs, and practice. Key stakeholders include organizations with decision-making authority and the ability to influence education policy and practice, such as state and local education agencies, school boards, institutes of higher education, and student, family, and community organizations. RELs partner with these organizations on applied research and development; training, coaching and technical supports; and dissemination. Click here to learn more about the REL Program.

Learn more about REL Appalachia (234 KB)


Supporting regional and district leaders in western Kentucky to develop and implement a training series for school-based educators on effective practices to support students and educators experiencing trauma. Learn more
Supporting northeastern Tennessee district and school leaders in their monitoring and use of data to improve students’ college and career preparation. Learn more
This partnership supports the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to create a culture of care to improve retention, course completion, and degree and certificate completion for the nearly 200,000 students enrolled in 23 community colleges statewide. REL Appalachia staff are collaborating with VCCS leaders to examine and strengthen available data and linkages across systems so that VCCS can evaluate and improve Single Stop, an initiative to connect students with critical services and public benefits. REL AP staff are also supporting VCCS leaders’ efforts to create a more supportive instructional environment and increase students’ sense of belonging by ensuring that all faculty and staff use evidence-based, trauma-sensitive approaches when interacting with students in and outside of the classroom. Learn more
Partnering with district and school staff in West Virginia to increase mathematics achievement by promoting positive mathematics attitudes and supporting the development of mathematical habits of mind. Learn more
Building the capacity of partners in Kentucky to design and evaluate professional learning that helps educators bolster students’ mathematics learning. Learn more
This Community of Practice supports leaders across the REL Appalachia four-state region to collaborate in understanding the state of available research, including what is and is not available to address their needs, to support sharing of ideas and information to support students and families, to share practices being used in the region in the increasingly common experiences of grandfamilies and kinship care, and to consider ways to collect and monitor relevant data about implementation and outcomes. The COP is focused on how schools and districts can support students and families and how those supports facilitate student success in school.


REL Appalachia is led by SRI International with support from the following partners:

  • Education Development Center
  • Erikson
  • Insight Policy Research, Inc.
  • L-Evation, LLC
  • Magnolia Consulting, LLC
  • Plus Alpha Research & Consulting, LLC

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The REL Governing Board helps REL Appalachia prioritize the education needs of the region, provides strategic guidance on REL work to maximize local effectiveness, and leverages members’ regional networks to amplify and disseminate REL products. REL Appalachia Governing Board members represent diverse expertise and experience.

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This coaching project builds the knowledge and capacity of school-based teams to promote mathematical mindsets in Logan County, West Virginia. The professional learning opportunities that REL staff and district and Education Alliance partners co-design and implement include opportunities for participants to learn and reflect across schools as well as within their school-based teams. The coaching activities improve participants’ use of evidence-based instructional practices for building mathematical mindsets and inclusive family engagement strategies, integrating the use of such practices and strategies across multiple touchpoints—in middle school classrooms, in afterschool programs, and at home.
During the first phase of this TCTS project, REL staff support district and Niswonger Foundation partners to develop and prioritize research questions and document data available to monitor implementation of career and college preparation initiatives and student outcomes. Phase II will support Foundation partners to use available data to create user-friendly and replicable data reports to answer those questions identified in phase I. Phase II will also support district partners to properly interpret these data reports and use them to make decisions that impact student access to and success in relevant programs and interventions.
REL staff are supporting district and school staff in Marshall County, Kentucky to leverage existing evidence-based, trauma-sensitive practices and to help staff implement these practices in their everyday interactions with their students to respond sensitively to student and educator trauma. REL staff are providing the district with a recorded trauma-sensitive training that meets the annual training requirements of Kentucky’s School Safety and Resiliency Act and provides teachers with more concrete trauma-sensitive practices they can implement in their classrooms.
This TCTS project is building the capacity of Kentucky Department of Education staff to collect and use data to inform MAF program planning, support MAF coaches, and evaluate outcomes. The project also builds the capacity of MAF coaches to reflect on their practice and use data to improve their support for teachers. To accomplish these objectives, the project includes two interrelated phases: developing the MAF coaching rubric, and designing and implementing an evaluation of the MAF program.
To address the mathematics-related needs of early educators in Virginia, REL staff are developing a toolkit based on the WWC practice guide Teaching Math to Young Children. The toolkit will include three components: diagnostics and monitoring tools, professional development resources built on the foundation of a developmental understanding of early mathematics, and institutional supports for systematic and maintainable implementation of the practice guide recommendations. The toolkit materials will be suitable for preschool, prekindergarten, and kindergarten teachers and the instructional leaders who support them.
Project On-Track is a high-dosage early literacy tutoring program developed by the Niswonger Foundation and currently being implemented across 65 school-based sites in northeastern Tennessee. Beyond Project On-Track's minimum tutoring dosage requirements, schools have some flexibility in when they provide tutoring, who provides tutoring, which grade levels are tutored, and how they identify students within a grade level to be tutored. REL staff are conducting an applied research study to examine how schools are implementing the program across the region and which implementation characteristics are associated with the best outcomes for students.

The purpose of this training and coaching project is to provide Virginia Community College System (VCCS) faculty, staff, and administrators with evidence-based resources they can use to implement trauma-informed practices, and to establish a continuous improvement process to strengthen implementation of these practices over time. In Phase I, REL staff will identify existing resources and co-develop new resources, as needed, to support implementation of trauma-informed practices in postsecondary settings. In Phase II, we will co-develop data-collection protocols and templates that project partners can use to reflect on and improve their implementation of trauma-informed practices. REL staff will also support the project partners to disseminate these resources and data-collection protocols and templates to other VCCS staff interested in implementing trauma-informed practices.

The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is partnering with national nonprofit organization Single Stop to help eligible students at all 23 of its colleges connect with critical services and public benefits to address food and housing insecurity as well as other potential barriers to success. REL staff are partnering with VCCS leaders to understand the quality of existing Single Stop data for VCCS students and to collect additional data that VCCS can use to support program planning and inform the design of a future evaluation study.

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