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 Pub Number  Title  Date
NCEE 20154018 Usage of Policies and Practices Promoted by Race to the Top and School Improvement Grants
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 injected $7 billion into two of the Obama administration's signature competitive education grant programs: Race to the Top (RTT) and School Improvement Grants (SIG). While RTT focused on state policies and SIG focused on school practices, both programs promoted related policies and practices, including an emphasis on turning around the nation's lowest-performing schools. Despite the sizable investment in both of these programs, comprehensive evidence on their implementation and impact has been limited to date.

This report focuses on two implementation questions: (1) Do states and schools that received grants actually use the policies and practices promoted by these two programs? (2) Does their usage of these policies and practices differ from states and schools that did not receive grants? Answers to these questions provide context for interpreting impact findings that will be presented in a future report.

The first volume of this report details our RTT findings, which are based on spring 2012 interviews with 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The second volume of this report details our SIG findings, which are based on spring 2012 surveys of approximately 470 schools in 60 districts and 22 states.
9/29/2015
REL 2015093 Alternative Student Growth Measures for Teacher Evaluation: Implementation Experiences of Early-Adopting Districts
State requirements to include student achievement growth in teacher evaluations are prompting the development of alternative ways to measure growth in grades and subjects not covered by state assessments. These alternative growth measures use two primary approaches: (1) value-added models (VAMs) applied to end-of-course and commercial assessments; and (2) student learning objectives (SLOs) selected by teachers with the approval of their principals. Information is limited, however, on how these alternative growth measures can be used to evaluate teachers and on their costs and benefits. REL Mid-Atlantic sought to develop new information by conducting case studies to examine the implementation experiences of eight districts that were early adopters of alternative measures of student growth. District administrators, principals, teachers, and teachers' union representatives were interviewed for the study.

The study found that alternative growth measures have been used for many purposes other than teacher evaluation, but SLOs are unique in their use to adapt and improve instruction. Although the alternative measures show a wider range of teacher performance relative to previous evaluation systems without measures of student growth, evidence on the reliability and validity of alternative measures--especially SLOs--is limited. Districts implementing SLOs most often reported increased collaboration as a benefit, while alternative assessment-based VAMs were perceived as fairer than SLOs for making comparisons among teachers. Both types of alternative growth measures come with costs and implementation challenges. SLOs are substantially more labor-intensive relative to alternative-assessment based VAMs. More research is needed on the statistical properties of the alternative measures, the approaches districts are taking to offset implementation costs, and innovative solutions to overcome implementation challenges.
7/21/2015
REL 2015105 Professional learning communities facilitator's guide for the What Works Clearinghouse practice guide: Teaching academic content and literacy to English learners in elementary and middle school
The Professional Learning Communities Facilitator's Guide is designed to assist teams of educators in applying the evidence-based strategies presented in the Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to English Learners in Elementary and Middle School educator's practice guide, produced by the What Works Clearinghouse. Through this collaborative learning experience, educators will expand their knowledge base as they read, discuss, share, and apply key ideas and strategies to help K–8 English learners acquire the language and literacy skills needed to succeed academically.

The facilitator's guide employs a five-step cycle that encourages professional learning communities to debrief, define, explore, experiment, and reflect and plan. This cycle is supplemented with activities, handouts, readings, and videos. Participants will develop a working knowledge of some of the best practices in the English learner practice guide through analysis of teaching vignettes and other interactive activities. Included in the toolkit of materials are activities along with 31 handouts and 23 videos. Four of the videos provide a narrative overview of each of the four recommendations in the practice guide, and the remaining videos show actual classrooms from three different grade levels putting the recommendations into practice.
7/7/2015
REL 2015057 Logic models for program design, implementation, and evaluation: Workshop toolkit
The Logic Model Workshop Toolkit is designed to help practitioners learn the purpose of logic models, the different elements of a logic model, and the appropriate steps for developing and using a logic model for program evaluation. Topics covered in the sessions include an overview of logic models, the elements of a logic model, an introduction to evaluation, uses of a logic model to develop evaluation questions and identify indicators of success, and strategies to determine the right evaluation design for your program or policy. The toolkit, which includes an agenda, slide deck, participant workbook and facilitator’s manual, was delivered to three REL-NEI research alliances: the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance, the Urban School Improvement Alliance, and the Puerto Rico Research Alliance for Dropout Prevention.
5/5/2015
REL 2015056 A Practitioner's Guide to Implementing Early Warning Systems
To stem the tide of students dropping out, many schools and districts are turning to early warning systems (EWS) that signal whether a student is at risk of not graduating from high school. While some research exists about establishing these systems, there is little information about the actual implementation strategies that are being used across the country. This report summarizes the experiences and recommendations of EWS users throughout the United States.
1/6/2015
REL 2015043 Practitioner Data Use in Schools: Workshop Toolkit
The Practitioner Data Use Workshop Toolkit is designed to help practitioners systematically and accurately use data to inform their teaching practice. The toolkit includes an agenda, slide deck, participant workbook, and facilitator’s guide and covers the following topics: developing data literacy, engaging in a cycle of inquiry, accessing and analyzing available data, identifying and creating student goals, and using data to make action plans about instructional decisions. The workshop was used with three REL-NEI research alliances: the Northeast Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance, the Urban School Improvement Alliance, and the Northeast Rural Districts Research Alliance, and can be customized for use in other contexts.
12/29/2014
REL 2014025 Logic Models: A Tool for Effective Program Planning, Collaboration, and Monitoring
This guide describes the role of logic models in effective program planning, collaboration, and monitoring. It explains how the four components of these models—resources, activities, outputs, and outcomes—relate to one another to provide a visual display of a program's mechanics and structure. An example is provided to demonstrate how the work of a program connects to intended student outcomes in order to chart a course toward improved policy and practice. This guide is one piece of a four-part series on program planning and monitoring released by REL Pacific at McREL.
3/26/2014
REL 2012136 Plans to Adopt and Implement Common Core State Standards in the Southeast Region States
Based on interviews with state officials in the six Southeast Region states, this study describes state processes for adopting the Common Core State Standards (a common set of expectations across states for what students are expected to know in English language arts and math) and plans for implementing the common standards and aligning state assessment systems to them.
1/31/2012
REL 2009077 The Status of State-level Response to Intervention Policies and Procedures in the West Region States and Five Other States
Response to intervention (RTI) can be both a system for providing early interventions to struggling students and a special education diagnostic tool for evaluating and identifying students with specific learning disabilities. Contributing to the very limited literature on state-level approaches, this report describes how nine states define and support RTI at the state level.
8/3/2009
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