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About REL Northwest

Regional Educational Lab (REL) Northwest partners with key stakeholders in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington 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.


REL Northwest is building the capacity of Alaska’s Department of Education & Early Development to evaluate key evidence-based reading activities for kindergarten through third grade (K-3) within its state Strategic Reading Plan, to revise a survey of districts about their instructional practices in K-3 reading, and to study district-level implementation of key reading activities in grades K-3 in selected districts. Learn more
Alaska educators and other youth service providers need strategies and systems to reduce the harmful effects of trauma and to increase the health and safety of children so they can better develop and learn. REL Northwest will support Alaska partners by conducting research, offering technical assistance, and creating dissemination materials. Learn more
The Idaho Early Childhood Education Partnership supports the goal of the West Central Mountains Early Learning Advisory Committee to improve early learning access and early literacy for kindergarten readiness by promoting implementation and evaluation of evidence-informed practices in its early childhood care and education initiative. Learn more
The Lower Kuskokwim School District is partnering with REL Northwest to implement evidence-based strategies to continuously monitor and improve working conditions toward increased teacher retention to ensure all students are consistently served by qualified educators. Learn more
To improve data use and the use of differentiated instruction to better serve students, REL Northwest will provide Laurel School District (Montana) with technical support and coaching related to data systems, multi-tiered systems of support for reading and culturally responsive family engagement. Learn more
Portland Public Schools is partnering with REL Northwest to develop instruments and processes to collect data to better understand how the 2022–26 High School Success plan activities are implemented. This will help inform resources, supports, and plans aimed to improve graduation rates of historically underserved students. Learn more
REL Northwest will support the critical need of Rural Alliance partners to increase administrator and educator capacity to design and facilitate online or blended learning opportunities for their students. Learn more
Seattle Equity-Focused Research
Oregon Department of Education (ODE) collaborated with community members to develop Student Success Plans designed to establish culturally responsive systems of academic and social support and improve outcomes for students from historically underserved communities. Each plan includes goals and strategies to address disparities, improve student and family engagement, build educator capacity to develop and implement culturally responsive pedagogy and curriculum, and improve student outcomes. REL Northwest is partnering with ODE to improve its ability to measure Success Plan implementation and assess the extent to which Student Success Plan activities are associated with changes in student outcomes. Learn more


REL Northwest is led by WestEd with support from the following partners:

  • Marzano Research
  • Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Analytica, Inc.

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The REL Governing Board helps REL Northwest 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 Northwest Governing Board members represent diverse expertise and experience.

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REL Northwest is conducting a research study to provide vital information to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (AK DEED) and key partners about the implementation of trauma-engaged practices and policies by districts as well as the use of Alaska's suite of trauma-engaged resources. AK DEED, the Association of Alaska School Boards, and the Alaska Division of Public Health within the Department of Health and Social Services will use insights from the study to bolster the suite of trauma-engaged resources for districts.

REL Northwest is helping Lower Kuskokwim School District use research and evidence to inform decisions and actions to strengthen teacher working conditions with the goal of improving retention. Through this technical support project, Lower Kuskokwim will develop an understanding of the research on teacher working conditions and develop tools to assess and monitor data to inform their teacher retention efforts and human resource decisions.

REL Northwest, in partnership with the Montana Office of Public Instruction, will conduct case studies involving Montana school districts regarding best practices in spending Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. REL Northwest will prepare brief, engaging communications materials that provide concrete examples of how districts can use data to identify core issues and focus ESSER funding on evidence-based activities that support student learning.

REL Northwest supports the work of Alaska’s Department of Education & Early Development (AK DEED) and its partners as they measure implementation related to activities in the state’s Strategic Reading Plan, aimed at raising students’ reading proficiency. In this project, REL Northwest provides technical support to AK DEED as it revises its district literacy survey related to implementation of evidence-based literacy strategies.

REL Northwest will train and support Portland Public Schools (PPS) in assessing the current state of equitable grading practices and work-based learning in the district. First, REL Northwest will assist PPS in developing surveys of educators and school counselors. The REL will also help PPS create focus group and interview protocols for students, school administrators, and district leaders. Finally, REL Northwest will support PPS in analyzing the data to inform the district's next steps for supporting its schools in implementing evidence-based practices aligned to a framework.

REL Northwest is providing technical support to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to refine its tools and processes so it can monitor progress toward the objectives and goals of its Student Success Plans. REL Northwest will support ODE to identify key indicators to measure, adapt survey scales and items, and develop a data analysis plan.

REL Northwest will train and support the West Central Mountains Early Learning Advisory Committee (WCM ELAC) in strategies for conducting a community needs assessment focused on early learning. REL Northwest will provide training and technical assistance to WCM ELAC as it updates its needs assessment strategies and tools. WCM ELAC will then implement the needs assessment to gather data to inform its early childhood programming efforts and to update its logic model, strategic plan, and evaluation plan.

REL Northwest will provide technical support to the Alaska Alternative Schools Coalition (AASC) schools to identify which trauma-engaged practices and conditions show promise for enhancing student outcomes in alternative school settings. The partnership brings together REL Northwest, thirteen alternative high schools, serving some of the most vulnerable students in Alaska, the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Behavioral Health, and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED). This work will inform future iterations of DEED’s Transforming Schools Toolkit, a resource for schools across Alaska that provides evidence-based strategies to help students that have experienced traumatic life events.

How are districts implementing recommendations from the Transforming Schools: A Framework for Trauma-Engaged Practice in Alaska? REL Northwest assisted AK DEED in developing a statewide survey tool and administration plan to assess the implementation of the framework and the use of a suite of related resources. The technical support project bolstered AK DEED's capacity to carry out similar survey development and dissemination tasks in the future.

Improving student literacy outcomes is a top priority for Alaska. REL Northwest is assisting the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (AK DEED) in developing an approach for measuring progress toward the goals outlined in its state Strategic Reading Plan. The project aims to develop evaluation questions, identify data sources for measurement, and create short- to mid-term evaluation agendas for selected activities.

REL Northwest delivered a series of trainings to Rural Alliance partners – mostly leaders from eastern Washington rural school districts – to increase understanding and inform decisions and actions to strengthen the region's online and blended programs. The Rural Alliance aims to improve student access to course offerings associated with college and career readiness and success.

Leaders from Montana's Laurel Public Schools seek to accelerate reading outcomes by helping educators more effectively interpret literacy data and respond to trends. REL Northwest is supporting Laurel to increase the capacity and knowledge of educators to use data – including screening, progress monitoring, and formative and summative assessments – to enhance their instruction and ensure appropriate interventions are selected to improve student outcomes.

The West Central Mountains Early Learning Advisory Committee (WCM ELAC) sought to enhance the quality of early care and education in its region to increase early literacy and the readiness of children entering kindergarten. To support this goal, REL Northwest guided ELAC leaders through a capacity-building process to develop a logic model and evaluation plan to guide the initiative's work and monitor its outcomes.

REL Northwest supported Portland Public Schools partners in developing an evaluation plan to help the district use data to monitor the implementation of strategies in its High School Success Plan. The ongoing evaluation plan will enable the district to adjust resources and supports for schools with the goal of improving high school graduation rates for Black and Alaska Native students.

REL Northwest is supporting the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) in developing a student success plan framework, logic model, and set of indicators that ODE can use to guide the development, monitoring, and evaluation of its statewide Student Success Plans. This will help ODE better partner with community-based organizations, districts, and other grantees to improve outcomes for the historically underserved student populations identified in the student success plans.

REL Northwest assisted staff from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (AK DEED) in analyzing, displaying, and discussing district survey data about reading curricular materials and assessments and publicly available statewide ELA data (e.g., early childhood data, National Assessment of Educational Progress, and Performance Evaluation for Alaska's School). AK DEED staff used what they learned to engage Alaskan leaders, educators, and parents in discussions about the strengths and areas needing improvement related to reading instruction practices, materials, and/or data-based decision-making.

REL Northwest supported the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) by ensuring its new state literacy framework (released May 31, 2023) included the most recent evidence on literacy instruction and insights from literacy leaders. Additionally, per ODE’s request, REL Northwest ensured the evidence and insights were easy to comprehend for stakeholders to help drive improved literacy instruction and increased student reading achievement across the state.

The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) is updating and revising Montana mathematics standards for all grade levels to include the latest evidence on how to best support students. REL Northwest supported OPI by conducting a literature scan of current research and coaching the standards writing team on how to apply the evidence base as they revise the standards.

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