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|REL 2017264||Establishing and sustaining networked improvement communities: Lessons from Michigan and Minnesota
The purpose of this report is to share lessons learned by Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest researchers as they worked with educators in Michigan and Minnesota to establish and sustain two networked improvement communities (NICs). A NIC is a type of collaborative research partnership that uses principles of improvement science within networks to learn from variation across contexts. At the request of the Michigan Department of Education, REL Midwest worked with educators at the school, district, intermediate school district, and state levels to establish the Michigan Focus NIC, with the goal of reducing disparities in student achievement within schools. At the request of the Minnesota Department of Education, REL Midwest worked with educators at the state and regional levels to establish the Minnesota Statewide System of Support NIC. This NIC aimed to improve the supports that the Minnesota Department of Education provides to its six Regional Centers of Excellence, which implement school improvement strategies in the schools in the state with the lowest performance and largest achievement gaps. Although there is practical guidance for how NICs should structure their work, few published accounts describe the process of forming a NIC. Through its experience working with educators to form two NICs, REL Midwest learned that it is important to: build a cohesive team with members representing different types of expertise; reduce uncertainty by clarifying what participation would entail; build engagement by aligning work with ongoing efforts; use activities that are grounded in daily practice to narrow the problem of practice to one that is high leverage and actionable; and embed capacity building into NICs to build additional expertise for using continuous improvement research to address problems of practice. This report offers guidance to researchers and educators as they work to establish and sustain NICs. The lessons learned come from efforts to establish NICs in two specific contexts and therefore may not be generalizable to other contexts.
|REL 2016218||Self-study guide for implementing high school academic interventions
This Self-study Guide for Implementing High School Academic Interventions was developed to help district- and school-based practitioners plan and implement high school academic interventions. It is intended to promote reflection about current district and school strengths and challenges in planning for implementation of high school academic interventions, spark conversations among staff, and identify areas for improvement. The guide provides a template for data collection and guiding questions for discussion that may improve the implementation of high school academic interventions and decrease the number of students failing to graduate from high school on time.
|REL 2016143||Development and implementation of quality rating and improvement systems in Midwest Region states
Recent federal and state policies that recognize the benefits of high-quality early childhood education and care, such as the Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge and the Preschool for All initiative, have led to a rapid expansion of quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs). Although 49 states implement a QRIS in some form, each system differs in its approach to defining, rating, supporting, and communicating program quality. This study examined QRISs in use across the Midwest Region to describe approaches that states use in developing and implementing a QRIS. The purpose was to create a resource for QRIS administrators to use as they refine their systems over time. Researchers used qualitative techniques, including a review of existing documents and semistructured interviews with state officials in the Midwest Region to document the unique and common approaches to QRIS implementation. Findings suggest that the process of applying for a Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge grant helped advance the development of a QRIS system, even in states that were not awarded funding. Also, all seven states in the Midwest Region use a variety of direct observations in classrooms to measure quality within each QRIS, despite the logistical and financial burdens associated with observational assessment. Five of the states in the Midwest Region use alternate pathways to rate certain early childhood education programs in their QRIS, most commonly for accredited or state prekindergarten programs. Finally, linking state subsidies and other early childhood education funding to QRIS participation encouraged early childhood education providers to participate in a QRIS. Developing and refining a QRIS is an ongoing process for all states in the Midwest Region and systems are continually evolving. Ongoing changes require policymakers, researchers, providers, and families to periodically relearn the exact requirements of their QRISs, but if changes are based on evidence in the field of changing needs of children and families, revised QRISs may better measure quality and better serve the public. Findings from this report can help inform the decisions of state QRIS administrators as they expand and refine their systems.
|REL 2015080||Instructional improvement cycle: A teacher's toolkit for collecting and analyzing data on instructional strategies
This toolkit, developed by REL Central in collaboration with York Public Schools in Nebraska, provides a process and tools to help teachers use data from their classroom assessments to evaluate promising practices. The toolkit provides teachers with guidance on how to deliberately apply and study one classroom strategy over the course of one unit and systematically document and compare results to consider the effects of a given instructional strategy on student learning. The process for testing the strategy uses a scientific approach by comparing the performance of students who receive the strategy to the performance of a similar group of students who do not receive the strategy. Teachers can use this information to reflect on their practice and consider adjustments to their instruction to increase student learning.
|NCEE 20144008||Operational Authority, Support, and Monitoring of School Turnaround
The federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) program, to which $3 billion were allocated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), supports schools attempting to turn around a history of low performance. School turnaround also is a focus of Race to the Top (RTT), another ARRA-supported initiative, which involved a roughly $4 billion comprehensive education reform grant competition for states. Given the size of these federal investments, in 2010 the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), began to conduct a large-scale evaluation of RTT and SIG to better understand the implementation and impacts of these programs. The SIG component, in particular, focuses on a purposive sample of SIG-eligible schools, including (1) a group of schools that received SIG to implement one of four intervention models specified by the U.S. Department of Education and (2) a comparison group of schools from the same districts that were not implementing one of these four intervention models with SIG support. Though the results from this evaluation of SIG are not necessarily generalizable to SIG schools nationwide, they are nonetheless important because they add to the limited knowledge base about the implementation and impacts of SIG-funded school turnaround efforts.
|NCEE 20124060||School Improvement Grants: Analyses of State Applications and Eligible and Awarded Schools
School Improvement Grants (SIG) are authorized under Title I section 1003(g) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and provide funds to assist with turning around the nation’s persistently lowest-achieving schools. Using publicly-available data, "School Improvement Grants: Analyses of State Applications and Eligible and Awarded Schools" examines (1) the SIG policies and practices states intend to implement based on their Cohort 2 applications for federal SIG funds, (2) the characteristics of schools eligible for and awarded SIG in Cohort 2, and (3) how these intended policies, practices, and school characteristics compare between Cohort 1 and Cohort 2. The first cohort of grantees began implementing reforms in the 2010–11 school year, with a second cohort of grantees beginning reforms in the 2011–12 school year.
|REL 2012121||Characteristics of Midwest Region School Districts Identified for Improvement
Like other states across the country, the seven REL Midwest Region states have been striving to meet the performance targets established under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Under the act, districts are identified as "in improvement" and schools as "in need of improvement" after two successive years of not meeting adequate yearly progress performance targets. The report, Characteristics of Midwest Region school districts identified for improvement, presents statistical profiles of school districts designated as in improvement in the Midwest Region states as of 2009/10. It compares the prevalence and characteristics of these districts and those of districts not in improvement. It also reports the prevalence of districts in improvement under three states’ own accountability systems.
|NFES 2011807||Forum Guide to Ensuring Equal Access to Education Websites—
Introduction to Electronic Information Accessibility Standards
This guide is designed for use by information technology administrators, data specialists, and program staff responsible for the “content” in data reports, as well as education leaders (e.g., administrators who prioritize tasks for technical and data staff), and other stakeholders who have an interest in seeing that our schools, school districts, and state education agencies operate in an effective and equitable manner for all constituents, regardless of disability status. It is intended to raise awareness in nontechnical audiences and suggest best practices for complying with Section 508 goals at an operational level in schools, school districts, and state education agencies. It is not intended to recreate technical resources that already exist to facilitate Section 508 compliance.
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