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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2021063 Virginia High School Graduates' Career and Technical Education Credentials: Top Credentials Over Time and Across Student Groups
In Virginia, all high school students can earn either a Standard diploma or an Advanced Studies diploma, the latter being a college preparatory diploma. Starting in 2017, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) began requiring students graduating with the Standard diploma to earn a career and technical education (CTE) credential to encourage them to pursue opportunities that enhance their career readiness. This is likely to be particularly important for students graduating with the Standard diploma, as they have been shown to have limited success in postsecondary education.

This study examined the CTE credentials Virginia high school graduates most commonly earned from 2011 through 2017. The five most commonly earned CTE credentials in Virginia remained the same during this time period, but the percentage of students earning the Workplace Readiness Skills (WRS) and W!se Financial Literacy Certification credentials increased. Both of these credentials cover broad skills relevant to a wide range of jobs, as opposed to a specific occupation or industry. Although the new CTE requirement applies only to Standard diploma graduates, there were few differences in the top 10 credentials by diploma type, both in terms of which credentials were most common as well as the rates at which students earned these credentials. Regardless of diploma type, in 2017, 9 of the top 10 credentials were broad credentials that were not narrowly aligned to a specific occupation or industry. This study also looked at the top 10 credentials earned by 2017 Standard diploma graduates across a variety of student subgroups, including English learner students, economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, and racial/ethnic subgroups. English learner students and students with disabilities earned the top 10 credentials at lower rates than other Standard diploma graduates. Student credential-earning rates differed the most by geographic region, both in terms of which credentials appeared in the top 10 and the percentage of students earning the top 10 credentials.

This study highlights the need for additional analyses to help CTE stakeholders and policymakers understand the value of different types of CTE credentials. In particular, Virginia and other states might explore the relative value of broad CTE credentials that apply to a wide range of jobs and have become increasingly prevalent in Virginia compared with CTE credentials that are more narrowly aligned with a specific occupation or industry.
1/11/2021
REL 2021056 Exploring Teachers’ Influence on Student Success in an Online Biology Course
This study of an online high school biology course offered by Florida Virtual School examined the amount of variation in course completion, students’ final exam scores, and time to completion that is attributable to the influence of teachers. This study examined three different student outcomes for segment 1 of the course: the rate of course completion, score on the final exam at the end of the course segment, and time taken to complete the segment. Students' end-of-segment exam varied only slightly across teachers, but teachers showed more influence on completion rates and time to completion. As a result, students with the highest- and lowest-performing teachers had notable differences in their time to completion and minor differences in course completion and exam scores.
1/6/2021
REL 2021051 District Changes in Student Achievement and Local Practice under Georgia’s District and School Flexibility Policy
Georgia instituted a flexibility policy in 2007 that provided districts with waivers from state education rules, provisions, and guidelines. Granted waivers and annual accountability targets are agreed upon in district performance contracts with the state. The performance contracts are meant to encourage districts to implement innovative practices to increase achievement for all students in Georgia. Between 2008/09 and 2016/17, 178 of Georgia’s 180 districts entered into performance contracts with the state. The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) asked Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast to analyze how districts’ achievement changed after the start of their performance contracts and factors related to those changes. GaDOE also requested information on districts’ implementation of and experiences with the state’s flexibility policy, focusing on how districts have used their performance contracts to prioritize local innovations in practice. Overall, the study found little evidence of that changes in academic achievement coincided with performance contract adoption but significant variation in changes in achievement across districts, after adjusting for other factors. Changes in achievement were largely unrelated to district characteristics, including urbanicity, timing of performance contract adoption, and district type, as well as features of the performance contract. District leaders indicated prioritizing innovations related to college and career readiness, teacher certification requirements, instructional spending, and funding for school improvement. Leaders perceived broad benefits from the priority innovations they identified, especially in relation to staff and school climate, but they also indicated that, in many cases, waivers were not required to implement the innovations they identified as priorities. Despite the perceived benefits, changes in achievement were largely unrelated to the academic, human resources, and financial innovations that districts indicated prioritizing after implementing their performance contracts.
12/17/2020
REL 2021044 Participation in State-Funded Prekindergarten in Oklahoma
Oklahoma offers state-funded prekindergarten (preK) to all 4-year-old children. The Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest Early Childhood Education Research Partnership members in Oklahoma requested more comprehensive evidence on disparities in student participation in state-funded preK by student characteristics and geographic locale. Such disparities in participation can indicate challenges in access to or use of the program. Using administrative records from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, REL Southwest calculated the percentages of first-time public school kindergarten students who participated in Oklahoma’s state-funded preK program in the prior year for five cohorts (2014/15 through 2018/19). In addition to describing unadjusted participation rates, the study also used multivariate statistical models to estimate relationships between student characteristics, the local availability of preK options (measured as estimated travel time), and students’ participation in state-funded preK. Across the five years examined, 74 percent of public school kindergarten students had attended state-funded preK in the prior year. Participation varied across the state, and a substantially greater percentage of students in rural districts participated than students in nonrural (that is, urban or suburban) districts. In addition, the study identified groups of students by student characteristics that participated less often, including students eligible for free lunch, Black/African American students, and Pacific Islander students. The study also examined relationships between participation and geographic measures of access to early learning and care. Students who lived further from a state-funded preK site were less likely to participate, and students who lived further from a Head Start Center were more likely to participate in state-funded preK. The differences in student participation across geographic areas and student characteristics indicate an opportunity for policies and strategies to promote greater awareness of, and enrollment in, state-funded preK or other early learning and care opportunities.
12/16/2020
REL 2021052 An Approach to Using Student and Teacher Data to Understand and Predict Teacher Shortages
Addressing teacher shortages has been a persistent concern among leaders in schools, districts, state education agencies, and the federal government. This report describes an approach to identifying patterns of teacher shortages that was collaboratively developed by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Regional Educational Laboratory Central. The approach is implemented using widely available software. It can be adopted or adapted by education agencies that wish to understand and predict teacher shortages, including shortage trends in content and certification areas, in their own contexts. Education agencies may also use teacher shortage predictions to inform efforts to address inequities in students’ access to excellent educators.
12/15/2020
NCEE 2021001 The Effects of Expanding Pell Grant Eligibility for Short Occupational Training Programs: Results from the Experimental Sites Initiative
Pell Grants are the cornerstone of federal financial aid for low-income students enrolled in postsecondary education. Between 2012 and 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) conducted pilots of two experimental expansions to Pell Grant eligibility. The first experiment allowed income-eligible students with a bachelor’s degree, not normally eligible for Pell Grants, to obtain them for short-term occupational training programs. The second experiment allowed income-eligible students to obtain Pell Grants for very short-term programs lasting as little as eight weeks, under the normal minimum of 15 weeks of instruction. This report presents the findings from a study that tested whether these experimental expansions to Pell Grant eligibility were effective. Both pilots improved enrollment in and completion of postsecondary programs, a first step toward improving individuals’ success in the labor market. However, the labor market returns from the two experiments and how these compare to the cost of expanding Pell Grant eligibility—about $1,800 per student in this study—remain important open questions for the future.
12/15/2020
REL 2021045 Professional Learning Community: Emergent Literacy
REL Southeast developed Professional Learning Community: Emergent Literacy to build the capacity of preschool educators to provide 3–5-year-old children evidence-based emergent literacy instruction. Early childhood teachers can help build the foundation to improve emergent literacy skills related to school readiness outcomes. The goal is to engage preschool teachers in collaborative learning experiences to support implementation of evidence-based language and literacy strategies that, in turn, can benefit children. A facilitator will use the Facilitator Guide and accompanying suite of materials to lead a team of preschool teachers through professional learning community sessions. The materials, developed in collaboration with the REL Southeast School Readiness Partnership, include four modules: 1) Print Knowledge; 2) Phonological Awareness; 3) Vocabulary; and 4) Oral Language. Each module is comprised of three resources:
  • A Facilitator Guide that includes a structured plan to deliver professional learning, slides, and speaker notes.
  • A PowerPoint Presentation that includes slides to project during each PLC session. Authentic Classroom Videos of preschool teachers implementing evidence-based language and literacy instructional practices are embedded in the slides of the PowerPoint presentation.
  • A Participant Guide that includes the emergent literacy content, activities, and resources for participating preschool teachers.
12/14/2020
NCEE 2021002 The Transition to ESSA: State and District Approaches to Implementing Title I and Title II-A in 2017-18
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) retained certain K-12 schooling federal requirements under prior law while shifting many decisions to states and districts. This report, based on national surveys administered in 2018, describes state and district policies and practices in the law’s core areas of content standards and assessments, identification of and support for low-performing schools, and educator effectiveness (Title I and II-A). The report also compares the policies and practices in 2018 to 2014, prior to ESSA. Between 2014 and 2018, most states made few substantive changes to their content standards while broadening the measures used to identify low-performing schools and increasingly using performance data to support effective teaching. Districts increasingly provided supports to implement state content standards, and a larger share of districts reported specific improvement activities in their low-performing schools in 2018 compared to 2014. Districts also increasingly used performance measures such as evaluation results to identify and support low-performing teachers.
12/8/2020
REL 2021047 Participation in a Professional Development Program on Culturally Responsive Practices in Wisconsin
State and school district leaders in Wisconsin are interested in improving educational outcomes among Black students across the state. Implementing culturally responsive practices aims to improve the academic achievement and behavioral outcomes of minority students. Through continued support from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, a professional development training program for culturally responsive practices, Building Culturally Responsive Systems, has been one of the primary models to inform culturally responsive practices. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and education stakeholders in Wisconsin have asked for more comprehensive information about schools’ participation in this program. Using data from the 2012/13–2018/19 school years, this study examined the program’s uptake and reach across the state and its relationship to school outcomes. The study used data on Wisconsin school characteristics from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data. Also, the study used data on attendance at the professional development training program for culturally responsive practices and data on implementation of culturally responsive practices from the Wisconsin Response to Intervention Center. The study team calculated descriptive statistics to examine the number and percentage of schools that participated in the program and to compare school characteristics between schools that participated in the program and schools that did not participate. The study team examined the relationship between participation in the program and school outcomes. The study found that 4 percent of schools in Wisconsin sent teachers and administrators to participate in the professional development program for culturally responsive practices. Among the schools that participated in the program, only 17.2 percent reported implementing culturally responsive practices in reading instruction. Schools that participated in the program had larger school enrollment, were more likely to be eligible for Title I funds, were more often from cities and suburbs, and had similar percentages of Black students than schools that did not participate in the program.
11/25/2020
REL 2021041 The Association between Teachers’ Use of Formative Assessment Practices and Students’ Use of Self-Regulated Learning Strategies
Three Arizona school districts surveyed more than 1,200 teachers and more than 24,000 students in grades 3–12 in spring 2019 to better understand the relationship between their teachers’ use of formative assessment practices and their students’ use of self-regulated learning strategies, to help shape related teacher development efforts moving forward. Descriptive results indicated that students regularly track their own progress but less frequently solicit feedback from teachers or peers. On the other hand, teachers regularly give students feedback but less frequently provide occasions for students to provide feedback to one another. There was only a small, positive association between the number of formative assessment practices teachers used and the average number of self-regulated learning strategies among their students. The correlation was stronger in elementary classrooms and in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) classrooms than in others. Some of teachers’ least-used formative assessment practices—facilitating student peer feedback and student self-assessment—had the strongest, positive associations with the average number of self-regulated learning strategies their students used. The more that teachers reported using these particular practices, the more self-regulated learning strategies their students reported using.
11/24/2020
REL 2021043 College Enrollment and Completion among Texas High School Graduates with a Disability
Higher education stakeholders often have limited information about the extent to which their institutions serve students with different types of disabilities and the pipeline of students with disabilities from high school to college entry and completion. This study used longitudinal administrative data from Texas to examine college enrollment and completion among four statewide cohorts of Texas public high school graduates (2006/07 through 2009/10) by disability status in high school, type of disability, and other student characteristics. The population included 106,736 high school graduates with disabilities and 902,672 graduates without disabilities. The findings demonstrate that 30.6 percent of graduates with designated disabilities in grade 12 enrolled in a Texas institution of higher education within two years. A large majority of the high school graduates with disabilities who enrolled in higher education (90.2 percent) initially enrolled in a public two-year institution. Enrollment in four-year institutions was substantially lower for graduates with disabilities than for graduates without disabilities. Within four years of initial enrollment in a two-year institution, 16.5 percent of the graduates with disabilities who enrolled had attained a certificate or associate degree, or transferred to a four-year university. Within seven years of initial enrollment in a two-year or four-year institution, 15.6 percent of the high school graduates with disabilities who enrolled had attained a baccalaureate degree. Attainment of college credentials and degrees was substantially lower for graduates with disabilities than for graduates without disabilities, particularly for baccalaureate degrees. College enrollment and attainment among high school graduates with disabilities was substantially lower for students eligible for the federal school lunch program and substantially lower for Hispanic and Black students compared to White students. College enrollment and attainment also varied by type of primary disability, higher for students with auditory, speech, visual, orthopedic and other health impairments than for students with intellectual and learning disabilities. These findings can inform efforts to identify students with disabilities in college and explore providing different services to support transition from high school and college success, particularly at two-year institutions, where most of the Texas students with disabilities enrolled.
11/23/2020
WWC 2021002 Single Stop USA's Community College Initiative Intervention Reports
This What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) intervention report summarizes the research on Single Stop USA's Community College Initiative, hereafter referred to as Single Stop. Single Stop is an intervention that supports community college students and their families by offering screening and application assistance to obtain public benefits. Single Stop also connects students and their families to wraparound services, such as tax preparation, child care, and immigration consultation through “one-stop shops” located within community colleges. Single Stop services are open to all students enrolled at the community colleges in which they are located. Site coordinators meet with students at the local Single Stop office on campus. Students may also choose to self-serve through the use of Single Stop software. Based on the research, the WWC found that Single Stop has potentially positive effects on progressing in college and potentially positive effects on academic achievement for community college students.
11/19/2020
REL 2021040 Supply and Demand for Middle‑Skill Occupations in Rural California in 2018–20
The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which the workforce supply in four rural California regions aligned with the occupational demand in "middle-skill" jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor's degree from 2017-2020. The study team used historical degrees and certificate awards to calculate the average annual number of credential completions between 2017 and 2020 and projected occupational demand during this period by using data from the Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) data system. The report includes analysis at the regional level and across all four regions. The report found that 83,756 middle-skill workers annually are needed to fill available jobs in the four rural regions, but education institutions granted credentials to meet only 24 percent of the employer demand. The study also found that most of the available "middle skill" jobs pay a living wage at the entry level, and that the demand for most middle-skill occupations in rural California are projected to increase over time. The authors recommend that educational institutions identify opportunities to prepare more students for credentials in the programs that are aligned with in-demand occupations, such as expanding existing programs or starting new ones. They also recommend that local government, workforce investment boards, and chambers of commerce identify alternate sources of qualified labor to fill open positions such as "overqualified" local workers or qualified workers from outside each region.
11/17/2020
REL 2021048 Creating and Using Performance Assessments: An Online Course for Practitioners
This self-paced, online course provides educators with detailed information on performance assessment. Through five modules, practitioners, instructional leaders, and administrators will learn foundational concepts of assessment literacy and how to develop, score, and use performance assessments. They will also learn about the role of performance assessment within a comprehensive assessment system. Each module will take approximately 30 minutes to complete, with additional time needed to complete the related tasks, such as creating a performance assessment and rubric. Participants will be provided with a certificate of completion upon finishing the course.
11/2/2020
REL 2021014 Continuous Improvement in Education: A Toolkit for Schools and Districts

Continuous improvement processes engage key players within a system to focus on a specific problem of practice and, through a series of iterative cycles, test changes, gather data about the changes, and study the potential influence of these changes on outcomes of interest (Bryk et al., 2015). This practitioner-friendly toolkit is designed to provide an overview of Continuous Improvement processes in education, with a focus on the use of Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycles (Langley, Moen, Nolan, Nolan & Norman, 2009). It also offers related tools and resources that educational practitioners can use to implement continuous improvement processes in their own schools, districts, or agencies.

The toolkit includes a customizable workbook, reproducible templates, and short informational videos. The toolkit begins with an introduction to continuous improvement, followed by customizable content for a series of meetings that guide a team of educators through the process of identifying a common problem, generating a series of evidence-based change practices to test and study, testing those change practices, collecting and analyzing data, and reflecting on and using evidence to identify next steps.

The toolkit leads educational practitioners through a series of PDSA cycles, designed explicitly for an educational setting. Real-world case examples illustrate the process in an educational context.

10/26/2020
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