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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
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 continues to be a pressing educational issue nationwide and increased rates of turnover tend to negatively impact student outcomes. Strategic human capital management practices that target improvements in administrative support can be an important mechanism for retaining teachers in schools and districts. This multi-year partnership between REL West and Arizona’s Maricopa County School Superintendent’s office (MCSS) will refine and study MCSS’s Stay Interview strategy, a retention improvement strategy aimed at improving workplace conditions to help districts address teacher attrition. Learn more
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
The Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) and the English Language Development, Dual, and World Language teams at the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) have prioritized improving math achievement among multilingual learners (MLs) in middle school. This is due to the wide and persistent gaps in mathematics assessment scores between MLs and their non-ML peers in Santa Clara County. Through coaching and an applied research project, REL West and SCCOE are supporting districts in the county to strengthen local professional learning for middle school math teachers of MLs and, in turn, expand the local implementation of evidence-based instructional practices that will improve MLs’ language proficiency and math content understanding. 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.

This coaching project uses a continuous improvement model to help each of the partnering higher education institutions review and update their baseline data on the characteristics of adult students who are near degree completers (that is, with some college but no degree); review the adult reengagement and support strategies; implement the strategies; measure progress; and identify successful student reengagement strategies that can be scaled across the California State University and community college education systems.

This coaching project convenes a professional learning community of human resource and professional learning leaders from multiple Utah local education agencies (LEAs) to engage in review of local data and inquiry cycles around early career teacher support and retention. Each LEA will also pilot selected evidence-based strategies for teacher retention and share lessons learned with other LEAs.

REL West is partnering with the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) to plan and facilitate two concurrent sets of professional learning opportunities, one for educators across grades 6–12 and one for educators specifically in grade 6. The professional learning focuses on exploring evidence-based practices from the What Works Clearinghouse practice guides and helping educators understand the needs of secondary multilingual learner students. Educators will use the information to build a repertoire of evidence-based practices to help multilingual students build content and academic vocabulary, math knowledge, and problem-solving skills to improve their language development and math achievement.

REL West is collaborating with Santa Ana Unified School District’s (SAUSD) Expanded Learning programs and Research & Evaluation office to develop a set of descriptive data snapshots that will focus aspects of student participation and outcomes defined in the program’s logic model. The descriptive snapshots will help SAUSD understand the current state of their programs, inform the development of research questions for a follow-up study of program effectiveness, and develop capacity within the district to pose and answer questions about their programs.

Students in foster care have among the poorest education outcomes and are often highly mobile, changing home placements and schools multiple times during a school year, disrupting learning. REL West and Foster Youth Services staff at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) are examining how many students in foster care across the county’s 80 school districts are enrolled in traditional or one of the alternative school types. They are also examining the school mobility and transfer rates from traditional to alternative schools for students in foster care. This project uses existing data in new ways to look at the rates of students in foster care enrolled in alternative schools that typically have more limited curricular and student support offerings and higher dropout rates than traditional schools.

A Comprehensive Toolkit REL West is developing a toolkit to support K–3 reading comprehension in collaboration with educators in the Dysart Unified School District in Arizona. This toolkit is designed to help educators implement the recommendations in the Improving Reading Comprehension in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade practice guide from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC). The comprehensive toolkit will include resources and supports to help teachers implement the practice guide recommendations to improve student reading comprehension. After its usability is tested with a small group of educators, it will go through a peer review process to ensure it both represents the evidence-based recommendations in the practice guide and is practical for educators. Starting in fall 2024, the toolkit will undergo a rigorous study to test the impact of the toolkit on teacher practice and student literacy outcomes.

REL West is working with a design team from Grand County School District and San Juan County School District to help build the knowledge and capacity of district leaders to support evidence-based, culturally responsive math instruction for Native American and multilingual learner students. Participants will use data to better understand students’ strengths and challenges in secondary math classes as well as teachers’ current instructional practice and their concerns and questions about supporting Native American and multilingual learner students in math. They will also gain knowledge of evidence-based and culturally responsive instructional practices in math, and learn how to use this knowledge to support secondary math instructional improvement at their schools.

REL West is partnering with Washoe County School District to provide training and support for district middle schools to implement the Check-In/Check-Out (CICO) intervention adapted to address attendance challenges. The aim is to prepare the middle schools for a study that will examine the effectiveness of CICO at reducing absenteeism. This project will produce co- developed training materials for the district to use for professional development to ensure CICO implementation fidelity and consistency and data collection tools adapted from the best practices literature on CICO implementation

This applied research study examines district referral rates to its most intensive intervention for reducing chronic absence, the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB), and rigorously investigates possible disproportionalities in referral rates. The study will document if, and to what extent, there are student or school characteristics related to higher rates of SARB referrals. If disproportionalities are found to exist, the results can motivate the use of more equitable and non-punitive interventions for students with the most persistent attendance problems.

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.

REL West provided a series of trainings to SAUSD on the purpose and structure of logic models, how to draft a logic model, how to ensure alignment of data and measures with each component of the logic model, and how the use of the logic model can support continuous improvement toward program outcomes. REL West provided resources such as logic model templates, definitions, case examples, and strategies for developing logic models.

REL West provided technical assistance and support to the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG) as they developed a logic model and associated measures for their Head Start program.NACOG wanted to strengthen its processes for data-driven decision-making to help ensure they were effectively evaluating program needs and measuring progress toward program goals. This technical assistance project resulted in the development of a logic model that is being used by NACOG to monitor Head Start programs.

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