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About REL West

Regional Educational Lab (REL) West partners with key stakeholders in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah 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 West is partnering with six higher education institutions within the northern region of California —Shasta College, Sierra College, College of the Siskiyous, the Yuba Community College District, California State University Chico, and California State University Sacramento—to advance their efforts to increase the number of individuals with “some college, no degree” or “near completers” who return to college and complete their credentials. Because this population is disproportionately composed of low-income, first-generation college students and people of color, improving degree completion can also help advance educational and workplace equity. Through coaching and applied research, REL West will support the partner institutions to identify and reengage adult learners, learn about evidence-based strategies, gather evidence about their progress, and identify ways to broaden the implementation of evidence-based adult reengagement and support strategies across the California State University and community college systems. Learn more
REL West and the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) are working to accelerate the necessary conditions for Black students to learn and succeed, and to address disparities in disciplinary treatment of Black students in the district. Through the partnership projects, REL West will help SFUSD create a systematic process for identifying, testing, and refining evidence-based practices to achieve equitable discipline outcomes for Black students. Learn more
The Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and REL West are partnering to reduce school mobility and absenteeism of K–12 students in foster care. The partnership uses data and evidence to improve education outcomes given that high rates of school mobility and chronic absence are related to disruptions in learning, relationships, and supportive services for these students. Partnership activities focus on examining and strengthening LACOE’s Educational Passport System (EPS), a data system that links information across child welfare and education agencies to better serve students. By building LACOE’s capacity to use the EPS, the partnership will increase its use of data for policy and practice decisionmaking and will generate new evidence to address school mobility and attendance challenges for students in foster care. Learn more
Teacher turnover is fiscally and academically costly, and attrition from the profession is highest in teachers’ initial years on the job. More than 40 percent of Utah teachers leave the profession within their first five years with patterns varying regionally across the state. This multi-year partnership between REL West and the Utah State Board of Education will engage a set of Utah school districts to understand and address the root causes of early career teacher attrition through new local data collection, and analysis and applied research. Learn more
REL West has partnered with Washoe County School District (WCSD), working with and through three of the districts’ departments: the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Department, the Intervention Department, and the Research and Evaluation Department. In the district’s Office of Strategies, REL West will launch its coaching work with leadership staff in the MTSS and SEL Department. This department is charged with developing the district’s capacity to create, support, and sustain school climates that are safe and engaging to optimize student learning, which starts with regular school attendance. Learn more
Supporting Integrated English Learner Instruction - In Development
REL West is partnering with the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) to decrease chronic absence rates among middle and high school students, by focusing on the district’s Expanded Learning programming as one of several strategies to achieve this goal. The partnership activities will help SAUSD to use data and evidence to understand the extent to which its Expanded Learning programs are meeting the district’s mission and vision, how programming might be improved, how to quantify the benefits of these programs for students and families, and how Expanded Learning programming is contributing – alongside other strategies – to the goal of reducing chronic absence rates. Learn more
Teacher Retention in Maricopa County - In Development
Middle School Multilingual Learners' Math and English Language Skills – In Development
This partnership addresses student underperformance in grade 3 literacy with a group of local education agencies in the Sacramento County Office of Education’s (SCOE’s) jurisdiction. The partnership will integrate evidence-based practices from What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guides through a “Joyful Literacy” approach that is grounded in culturally and linguistically sustaining, whole-child strategies. REL West will provide coaching and resources that incorporate practices from the WWC practice guides, and evidence-based social-emotional learning and creative expression strategies. This partnership will align with, complement, and amplify efforts already underway at SCOE to improve literacy performance across the county. Learn more


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

  • American Institutes for Research
  • Analytica
  • Basis Policy Research
  • Decision Information Resources (DIR)
  • Policy Studies Associates
  • RAND
  • Westat Insight

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

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The purpose of this coaching project is to design and conduct an inventory of K–12 student academic, attendance, behavioral, and mental health interventions used in schools across the district in order to obtain an accurate accounting of the district’s tiered interventions and description of implementation of its Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework. The inventory will help the district make decisions, specifically related to strengthening MTSS practices and using evidence-based interventions to reduce chronic absence.
This technical support project builds local capacity to use data to examine Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) referrals. The first phase focuses on co-analysis of the SARB referral forms to document the interventions used and requested to support chronically absent students referred to SARB. The second phase uses administrative data to produce a descriptive profile of referred students, reporting demographic characteristics and attendance outcomes in the years preceding the referral. This project lays the groundwork for a complementary research project that will rigorously investigate the relationship of attendance outcomes and student and school characteristics with SARB referral rates and possible disproportionalities.
The Los Angeles County Office of Education’s (LACOE’s) Educational Passport System (EPS) collects and links cross-sector data in education, child welfare, and juvenile justice across LACOE’s 80 school districts, This analytic technical assistance project is designed to (1) assess the data quality and comprehensiveness of the EPS for monitoring and reporting on school mobility and chronic absence; (2) improve the EPS so that it can be used effectively to address a co-developed research agenda on school mobility and chronic absence for students in foster care; and (3) develop a set of research questions that focus on examining school mobility and chronic absence for LACOE students in foster care.
This randomized controlled trial will test two promising strategies (Empathic Instruction and Self-Affirmation) for creating equitable discipline outcomes at grades 4 and 5. The goals of the project include testing evidence-based strategies designed to mitigate the effects of bias and stereotype threat on disciplinary practices and outcomes among Black students. This work is grounded in the guiding principles of the district’s African American Achievement and Leadership Initiative and was developed to help the district overcome persistent barriers to reducing disparities in disciplinary outcomes.

This project includes a series of training sessions focusing on orienting LEA leadership teams to the Joyful Reading and Creative Expression with Young Children Planning Guide. The goal of the trainings is to help participants understand the relevant research base and how the guide, which includes family engagement resources and activities, can be used in practical ways that are tailored to specific contexts.

During this six-month project with the California Department of Education (CDE), REL West provided technical support to the CDE in its work to serve English language (EL) students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The project helped CDE evaluate the state’s proficiency thresholds for the Alternate English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (Alternate ELPAC), with a specific focus on validating the state’s standards for exiting EL students with the most significant cognitive disabilities out of EL status. The coaching project led to CDE recommending new thresholds to the California State Board of Education that it ultimately adopted.
Through this technical assistance project, REL West provided training sessions on machine learning tailored for research staff in the Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) Department of Research, Assessment, and Data (RAD), in order for program staff to better understand when and how predictive analytics might benefit their decision making and resource allocation. Through this project, OUSD staff increased their knowledge of machine learning and increased the district’s capacity to use data and predictive analytic methods to inform district policies and practices that can be used to connect students to the most appropriate supportive services.
REL West provided technical assistance to Lyon County, Nevada in developing and implementing a robust new professional learning community (PLC) dedicated to expanding the effective use of local interim assessment data, particularly from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). Over the course of the project, participating school teams prioritized math domains and learning targets for specific student groups, selected evidence-based teaching strategies for improving algebra knowledge and/or problem solving to meet specified learning targets, and developed a professional learning plan to expand the use of the selected evidence-based teaching strategies among a group of teachers at the site and planned for implementation and formative evaluation of the professional learning. Participants agreed that, by the end of the project, they had a better understanding of evidence-based practices on secondary math instruction, that they had greater capacity to use research on mathematics instruction and professional learning to inform decisions about policies or practices in their school, and that the format of the PLC provided ample opportunity for participants to meaningfully interact.
REL West worked with the Grand County School District in Southeast Utah to provide coaching and support to help the district build a culture of local data use geared toward strengthening math instruction in grades K–5. The coaching initially helped district staff examine local RISE and Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) data to identify specific areas of need in math (for example, grade levels, student groups, and/or math domains with very low performance). The work then focused on developing and testing continuous improvement protocols for grade-level professional learning communities (PLCs) for using math data to drive changes in instruction. By fall 2022, every elementary grade level had administered at least one common formative assessment, accomplishing a longstanding goal of school and district leaders. Between fall 2022 and winter 2023, the percentage of grade 3 students tested at grade-level targets in math grew from 51 percent to 69 percent on the NWEA MAP in math.
REL West is providing technical assistance and coaching to the Tooele County School District (TCSD) in Utah to strengthen educator capacity for integrating language with content instruction and create systemic supports and learning climates with school leaders that foster the success of multilingual English learners. REL West is developing and facilitating professional learning and coaching for administrators and instructional coaches of schools identified for targeted support and improvement to better serve their multilingual English learners. The project will be completed by the end of 2023.

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