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About REL Midwest

Regional Educational Lab (REL) Midwest partners with key stakeholders in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin 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.

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Supporting Iowa middle school leaders in using data and culturally responsive practices with the goal of reducing racial/ethnic disparities in students’ sense of belonging, discipline referrals, and absenteeism. Learn more
Supporting Wisconsin grade 6 teachers in integrating computational thinking and student-focused practices into mathematics instruction, with the aim of improving students’ mathematics engagement and achievement. Learn more
Supporting Indiana district and school leaders in their efforts to plan for and meet the requirements of the Indiana Graduates Prepared to Succeed initiative.
Supporting Ohio high schools in identifying policies and practices misaligned with the needs of students of color and students receiving special education services as a way to improve school climates and reduce disparities in discipline referrals. Learn more
Supporting Michigan educators and school leaders in integrating evidence-based strategies and culturally responsive practices into K–1 literacy instruction, with a focus on phonological awareness and phonics. Learn more
Supporting Minnesota school leaders in promoting favorable working conditions and in retaining teachers of color and Indigenous teachers. Learn more
Supporting Illinois teachers in addressing gaps in students’ mathematics achievement with a focus on fractions. The partnership will draw on a What Works Clearinghouse practice guide to develop an educator toolkit. Learn more


REL Midwest is led by AIR with support from the following partners:

  • Civilytics Consulting
  • EDC
  • TRAC Research Group

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

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REL Midwest will provide grade 6 mathematics teachers with support and coaching to integrate computational thinking and student-focused practices into their mathematics teaching. Teachers will participate in a 3-day summer institute followed by a series of coaching sessions throughout the school year. Resources provided to teachers will include 15 videos modeling integration of computational thinking and student-focused practices into mathematics lessons, viewing guides to support teachers in interpreting the videos, lesson planning templates, and student exit tickets.
REL Midwest will develop a measure of teachers’ student-focused pedagogical content knowledge for computational thinking in middle school mathematics. Partnering districts will administer the measure to 200–300 teachers. REL Midwest will conduct analyses to determine the measure’s reliability and validity.
REL Midwest will test the usability and feasibility of the ENACT professional development provided by its coaching team on integrating computational thinking into grade 6 mathematics instruction. The team will conduct teacher surveys and interviews to learn which components of the professional development work best for teachers. REL Midwest also will examine student surveys, mathematics grades, and test scores to measure the relationship between ENACT, student perceptions, and achievement outcomes.
REL Midwest will provide coaching to staff in the Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) at the Illinois State Board of Education through structured opportunities for thought partnership. REL Midwest will provide subject-area expertise related to departmental needs and support ORE in developing quality assurance practices.
REL Midwest will work with Ohio school districts to develop, implement, test, and refine an approach designed to address inequities in school discipline. This approach will bring together school community members over 1 semester to examine data, openly discuss equity gaps, explore solutions, and develop a plan to promote equitable discipline. The research team will conduct interviews, stakeholder feedback surveys, and observations to address research questions related to the usability, feasibility, and acceptability of the components for the approach. The usability/feasibility study will provide information that improves the implementation of the MESA approach to improve student academic and social and emotional outcomes.
REL Midwest will support district and school staff to collect, analyze, and interpret data related to school disciplinary policies and practices. Over 1 semester, REL Midwest will facilitate an equity audit to examine data, discuss equity gaps, explore solutions, and develop a plan to promote equitable discipline. Following the equity audit, REL Midwest will provide 6 months of supportive coaching focused on discussing audit team recommendations, developing an implementation plan and timeline, and creating a plan to track implementation and results.
REL Midwest will coordinate with state and district staff to cultivate and sustain working conditions and school cultures that increase the retention of Indigenous educators and educators of color. This work will focus on areas of cultural proficiency training identified through REL Midwest–facilitated needs assessments and co-design planning meetings with state, district, and school personnel. Support will entail schoolwide training, leadership coaching, mentor coaching for Indigenous mentors and mentors of color, and affinity groups for Indigenous educators and educators of color. Each of these components will also incorporate resources focused on topics elevated by the schools.
REL Midwest will examine the usability, feasibility, and acceptability of SIDEE’s four intervention components designed to improve school climate for Indigenous educators and educators of color. REL Midwest will conduct surveys and interviews with participants in up to four schools during 2 academic years, with the data collection and reporting sequenced throughout the school years to inform continuous improvement. The purpose of the study is to ensure the final intervention is aligned with the needs of Minnesota districts and schools and can support the state’s educator diversification goals.
REL Midwest will test the usability, feasibility, and acceptability of a package of professional learning opportunities for kindergarten and grade 1 teachers called Strategies to Improve Reading (STIR). STIR has multiple components, including (a) a summer institute; (b) a facilitated professional learning community; and (c) on-site, job-embedded coaching. STIR is designed to support effective instruction in phonics and phonological awareness; data collection and use to inform literacy instruction and intervention; and effective leadership practices for literacy for kindergarten and grade 1 teachers and school leaders. To understand whether STIR is usable, feasible, and acceptable to educators, the research team will conduct surveys and interviews with teachers, school leaders, and district leaders; collect data from artifacts used during the professional learning opportunities; and collect student test scores. The research team will produce multiple deliverables, including a report, a blog post, an infographic, and presentations to district stakeholders.

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