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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2019011 The postsecondary education and employment pathways of Minnesota public high school graduates: Investigating opportunity gaps
In Minnesota, as in many other states, not all students have access to the types of educational experiences in high school that are likely to lead to high-paying jobs. If Minnesota policymakers and practitioners are to be well positioned to reduce achievement gaps that lead to different career and college outcomes, they must have reliable data on the postsecondary pathways Minnesota public high school graduates take, as well as information about differences in pathways and outcomes for different groups of students. Members of the Midwest Career Readiness Research Alliance collaborated with Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest to conduct a study that describes the postsecondary pathways of Minnesota public high school graduates, including the pathways graduates take within one year of high school graduation and their degree attainment and employment outcomes six years later. The study also examined differences in initial pathways, degree attainment, and employment outcomes for students with different characteristics. Using data from the Minnesota Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System, the study examined the initial postsecondary pathways of Minnesota public high school students who graduated from high school between 2008 and 2015. The study also examined the college certificate and degree attainment and employment outcomes of Minnesota public high school students who graduated from high school between 2008 and 2010. The study describes differences in initial postsecondary pathways, college certificate and degree attainment, and employment for students from different groups. The study found that within one year of high school graduation, nearly all Minnesota public high school graduates were enrolled in college or employed. There were differences in initial postsecondary pathway by student characteristics but not by rurality. Graduates who had disabilities, graduates who had limited English proficiency, Hispanic graduates, and American Indian/Alaska Native graduates were the most likely to be neither employed nor enrolled in college within one year of high school graduation. Six years after high school graduation, 48 percent of graduates had not earned a college certificate or degree. Thirty-seven percent of graduates had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, 11 percent of graduates had earned an associate’s degree, and 4 percent of graduates had earned a college certificate. In addition, six years after high school graduation, 71 percent of graduates were employed, and their median annual earnings were $22,717. Finally, there were differences in college certificate and degree attainment, employment, and earnings by student characteristics. These differences remained when comparing graduates who participated in the same initial postsecondary pathway.
9/9/2019
REL 2019009 Past and projected trends in teacher demand and supply in Michigan
State and district leaders in Michigan have described a need for better and more comprehensive information on the existence and extent of teacher shortages within the state of Michigan in recent years and projected into the near future. Michigan has experienced challenges matching the active supply of teachers to the demand for the kinds of teachers that districts need. This study aims to provide a systematic understanding of teacher supply, demand, and shortages in Michigan. This study used data from the 2013/14 to 2017/18 school years to examine trends in teacher supply and demand in Michigan, and make projections for the next five years. Data used include personnel, certification, and substitute permit data from the Michigan Department of Education as well as publicly available data from the MI School Data portal and the federal Title II website. Methods used include descriptive statistics and regression analysis to project teacher supply and demand. The study found that total student enrollment in Michigan public schools declined by 2.8 percent between 2013/14 and 2017/18, while the enrollment of English learner students increased by 27.1 percent over the five-year period. The size of the teacher workforce, as measured by teacher full-time equivalents, decreased by 2.1 percent between 2013/14 and 2017/18. The number of newly certified, active teachers decreased by 23.4 percent between 2013/14 and 2017/18. Although the overall active supply of teachers in Michigan public schools is projected to meet the demand over the next five years, shortages are expected in a few subject areas (for example, business education and career and technical education) and regions (for example, the Northwest and Upper Peninsula). Study findings suggest leverage points in teacher retention and certification to address potential teacher shortages. Moreover, efforts to increase the supply of qualified teachers should be focused on those subject areas, regions, and locales where shortages are projected.
8/26/2019
REL 2019008 Factors related to teacher mobility and attrition in Colorado, Missouri, and South Dakota
This report describes teacher and school characteristics related to teacher movement within and out of public school systems in Colorado, Missouri, and South Dakota. Stakeholders in each of these states expressed interest in better understanding teacher mobility and attrition and related factors. The authors used administrative data provided by state education agencies to examine the characteristics related to the likelihood that teachers would move to different schools or leave state public school systems from 2015/16 to 2016/17. Results suggest that the likelihood of teachers either moving or leaving was most strongly related to age, years of experience in their schools or districts, special education teaching assignments, average salaries, school demographics and performance, and school state accountability designation. Information about factors that contribute to moving and leaving may help decision-makers improve the policy and practices aimed at attracting and keeping teachers.
8/19/2019
REL 2019007 Math course sequences in grades 6–11 and math achievement in Mississippi
The purpose of this study was to examine how students in Mississippi met their mathematics requirements and the extent to which their mathematics sequence is related to student performance and demographic characteristics such as race and ethnicity. The study used data from the Mississippi Department of Education over a six-year period, beginning in 2011/12 and ending in 2016/17. The sample includes all students enrolled in grade 11 in Mississippi public high schools during the 2016/17 school year who had scores on the ACT Mathematics in grade 11 and recorded coursework in grade 6. Sequence analysis was used to summarize and then cluster the mathematics course-taking experience, or mathematics sequence, of these students in grades 6-11. Classification and regression tree analysis facilitated the identification of associations between mathematics sequence, student demographic characteristics, and college-ready performance on the ACT Mathematics in grade 11. Results indicate that membership in a particular mathematics sequence cluster did not improve the classification accuracy of the decision tree predicting risk status over and above the use of student achievement in grade 5 and student race. That these differences have less association with college-ready performance than student grade 5 mathematics achievement suggests a need to focus on prevention efforts before grade 6. Algebra I is often viewed as the gatekeeper course, but it is also possible that mathematics preparation at the elementary level sets a student on the path to taking Algebra I earlier in their mathematics sequence. While this study did not explore the quality of mathematics curriculum and instruction at the secondary level, the results of this study underscore the importance of mathematics instruction at the elementary level.
8/9/2019
REL 2019004 Technology use in instruction and teacher perceptions of school support for technology use in Iowa high schools
A growing national consensus shows the need for educational systems to prepare students to succeed in working environments and society of the 21st century. Recognizing this need, Iowa school districts have invested in technology to assist in addressing the expectations of the Iowa Core Standards related to 21st century skills. The rural districts served by the Central Rivers Area Education Agency (Central Rivers AEA) and three high schools formed the Iowa Learning and Technology Networked Improvement Community (Iowa NIC) to promote effective use of these technology resources. To inform these improvement efforts, the Iowa NIC requested that REL Midwest conduct a descriptive research study to describe the extent to which teachers are using technology to support the development of 21st century skills and describe teacher perceptions and school supports related to technology integration. The study team obtained teacher survey data and school data from Central Rivers AEA. The study examined proportion of teachers emphasizing each of the four 21st century skills (that is, collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking). In addition, the study performed tests to determine which groups of teachers (for example, by subject area taught) differed in their responses for a given topic area. The proportions of teachers asking students to use technology to support the development of 21st century skills differed across the four skills, as well as across subject areas taught and teacher experience. Specifically, half or nearly half of the teachers emphasized the use of technology for collaboration or critical thinking at least monthly. By contrast, less than a fourth of the teachers emphasized the use of technology for communication or creativity at least monthly.
6/24/2019
REL 2019003 Student and school characteristics associated with academic performance and English language proficiency among English learner students in grades 3–8 in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) has witnessed an increase in the number of English learner students in grades K–12 over recent years, with students coming from more diverse backgrounds in race/ethnicity, countries of origin, and native language. This requires more support from the district to meet diverse needs in terms of languages, cultures, and educational supports. The Cleveland Partnership for English Learner Success—a partnership among CMSD's Multilingual Multicultural Education office, the research office and researchers from Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest—has prioritized identifying English learner student and school characteristics associated with student achievement and language proficiency. This will provide a step toward improving district and school supports for English learner students. Student and school data from 2011/12 through 2016/17 were obtained from the district administrative records. The study examined means and percentages of student and school characteristics and student achievement of English learner students in grades 3–8 from school years 2011/12 through 2016/17. The study team examined these characteristics for English learner students in grades 3–8 each year separately, enabling the team to identify stable patterns while helping to uncover changes over time.
6/11/2019
REL 2019002 Professional Learning Community: Improving Mathematical Problem Solving for Students in Grades 4 Through 8 Facilitator's Guide
REL Southeast developed this facilitator's guide on the topic of mathematical problem solving for use in professional learning community (PLC) settings. The facilitator's guide is a set of professional development materials designed to supplement the What Works Clearinghouse practice guide, Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4 Through 8 (Woodward et al., 2012). The practice guide provides research-based recommendations for teachers to incorporate into their classroom practice. The facilitator's guide is designed to complement and extend the practice guide by providing teachers in a PLC setting with additional, step-by-step guidance for the best ways to implement some of these evidence-based recommendations.

The facilitator's guide focuses on three of the five recommendations from the mathematics problem solving practice guide to ensure in-depth coverage of the topics and to provide ample practice opportunities and time for reflection. The three practice guide recommendations on which the facilitator's guide is based are: teach students how to use visual representations (Recommendation 3), expose students to multiple problem-solving strategies (Recommendation 4), and help students recognize and articulate mathematical concepts and notation (Recommendation 5). REL Southeast chose these three recommendations because they are interrelated and include critical content to address the two high-leverage regional needs communicated by the Improving Mathematics Instruction Research Alliance which include improving classroom discourse in mathematics and enhancing students' mathematical problem-solving skills.
6/10/2019
REL 2019001 Teacher retention, mobility, and attrition in Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota
This report describes rural and nonrural teacher movement within and out of public school systems in Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota. All four states have high proportions of rural districts and schools. The authors used administrative data provided by state education agencies to examine the percentages of teachers who stayed in the same school, moved to a different school or district, or left a teaching position. Results suggest that the proportions of stayers, movers, and leavers in these states were similar to national statistics and varied substantially across districts within states.
3/11/2019
REL 2018290 Impact of providing information to parents in Texas about the role of Algebra II in college admission
This study examines the impact of providing parents with an informational brochure about the role of algebra II in college access on students’ grade 11 algebra II completion rates in Texas. One hundred nine schools, covering all 20 Educational Service Center regions in Texas, participated in the study. Parents in the 54 treatment schools were mailed brochures containing information about the role of algebra II in college access and success, as well as information about the new high school graduation options, while parents in the 55 control schools received brochures only about changes in the high school graduation requirements. The study used data from the Texas Education Agency’s Public Education Information Management System, statewide assessment files, and Texas Academic Performance Report files. A multilevel regression model was used to compare algebra II completion rates during grade 11 for students in participating schools that received information about the role of algebra II in college access and students in participating schools that received the alternate brochure. Interaction terms were included in the model in order to look for differential impacts for high-minority or low-income schools. The study found no statistically significant differences in algebra II completion rates during grade 11 between students in treatment in control schools. However, the study did find a statistically significant interaction between school-level treatment and low-income status. While the estimated impacts of the treatment were not statistically significant for students in low-income schools or for students in non-low-income schools, the interaction suggested a less positive impact in the low-income schools. Additional research could help to parse this out. If parents and guardians of students in schools with and without high percentages of low-income students do respond differently to the two types of brochures, this could help TEA to better design and target informational materials for parents and guardians.
3/1/2018
REL 2018291 Regional Educational Laboratory researcher-practitioner partnerships: Documenting the research alliance experience
This report provides a detailed account of the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Program's experience establishing and supporting research-practice partnerships (called "research alliances") during its 2012–17 contract cycle. The report adds to the growing literature base on researcher-practitioner partnerships by sharing how the RELs reported creating, engaging, and maintaining multiple partnerships, with the purpose of informing future collaborative efforts for researchers and practitioners and for those who wish to support research-practice partnerships. It addresses questions about: how REL research alliances fit within the broader context of research-practice partnerships; what characteristics existed among REL research alliances and how they evolved over time; and what challenges RELs reported experiencing while establishing and supporting research alliances and the strategies RELs employed to address those challenges. Finally, the paper discusses the implications of the REL research alliance experience for other networks of research-practice partnerships.
2/27/2018
REL 2018284 Teacher certification and academic growth among English learner students in the Houston Independent School District
This study assesses whether a teacher’s certification type (that is, being a certified bilingual teacher or a certified English as a second language [ESL] teacher) and route to certification—alternative, postbaccalaureate, traditional, or additional exam—correlate with academic growth and growth in English proficiency among English learner students in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). The student sample consisted of HISD students in grades 4 or 5 during the 2005/06–2014/15 school years who were classified as English learner students, participated in HISD's bilingual or ESL program in grades 4 or 5, and had Spanish as their home language. Data from the four most recent cohorts (2011/12–2014/15) were used for the analyses of mathematics and reading outcomes using the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) assessment program. All cohorts were used for the analyses of the English proficiency outcomes using the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System assessment. The corresponding teacher sample consisted of HISD teachers who taught mathematics or reading to the student sample described. The study used student achievement models, sometimes called value-added specifications, to examine whether specific teacher certification types and routes were associated with larger achievement gains.

For math, having a teacher with bilingual certification was associated with higher student growth in achievement in grade 4 but lower growth in achievement in grade 5 compared with having a teacher without bilingual or English as a second language certification. Having a teacher with bilingual certification through the alternative route was associated with the highest growth in achievement in grade 4 math. For reading, having a teacher with bilingual certification was associated with higher student growth in achievement in grade 4 compared with having a teacher without bilingual or English as a second language certification. Having a teacher with bilingual certification through the traditional route was associated with the highest growth in achievement in grade 4 reading. For English proficiency, having a teacher with bilingual certification through the postbaccalaureate route was associated with the highest student growth in grade 4. Having a teacher with bilingual certification through the alternative route was associated with the highest growth in English proficiency in grade 5.

Given the inconsistent results, there are no clear implications for practice. Additional research might investigate alternate methods for identifying which teachers are effective.
2/13/2018
REL 2018289 Trends in Algebra II completion and failure rates for students entering Texas public high schools
The purpose of this study was to examine Algebra II completion and failure rates in Texas for high school students in the grade 9 cohorts of 2007/08 through 2014/15. This period spans (1) the point at which Texas began implementing the 4x4 curriculum that required four courses each in English, math (including Algebra II), science, and social studies and (2) when the state moved to the new Foundation High School Program—which eliminates Algebra II as a math requirement—with the 2014/15 cohort. Using longitudinal student- and district-level administrative data from the Texas Education Agency and district-level responses to a statewide online survey administered during spring 2015, the research team examined Algebra II completion and failure rates, and determined how districts were communicating with parents about the new graduation requirements and whether they would be offering the new Algebra II replacement courses during the first year of implementation. Results indicate that approximately 37 percent of districts reported requiring students to complete Algebra II to graduate from high school. Fewer than half of districts reported that they planned to offer the alternative math courses in the first year of implementing the new graduation requirements. Overall, Algebra II completion and failure rates for the 2014/15 cohort followed the same trend as seen for the seven cohorts graduating under the previous graduation requirements. This study suggests that the third high school math course students took was not immediately influenced by the new graduation requirements. Future research could continue to track additional cohorts of students to determine if student change their course-taking in response to additional changes districts may make in implementing the new graduation requirements or if the increased flexibility in course selection is related to other student outcomes such as dropout rates.
2/6/2018
REL 2018288 Special education enrollment and classification in Louisiana charter schools and traditional schools
This study is an exploratory analysis of the enrollment rates of students with individualized education programs (IEPs) in the charter school and traditional school sectors. It also examines factors associated with variation in classification and enrollment rates of students with IEPs across these school sectors in the four educational regions of Louisiana with three or more charter schools. Those areas are Region 1, which includes New Orleans; Region 3, which includes Jefferson and five other parishes near New Orleans; Region 5, which includes Ouachita and five surrounding parishes in the northeast corner of the state; and Region 8, which includes Baton Rouge. In the 2013/14 school year, 77 percent of charter students in Louisiana attended school in one of these four regions.

The study found that the enrollment rate of students with IEPs was lower in public charter schools than traditional public schools in the four Louisiana educational regions in the study from 2010/11 through 2013/14. This gap, however, declined from 2.5 percentage points in 2010/11 to 0.5 percentage points in 2013/14. For three of the four study years the gap was largest in schools serving grades K–5, and for all four study years it was smallest in schools serving grades 9–12. In 2013/14 the special education enrollment rate was higher for charter schools than traditional schools at the high school level (a 2.0 percentage point difference). The gap varied by disability type, as enrollments were higher in charter schools for students with emotional disturbance but higher in traditional schools for students with most other disabilities. Charter school enrollment was not clearly associated with the likelihood of being newly classified as requiring an IEP. However, charter school enrollment was associated with an increased likelihood of being declassified as requiring an IEP, though less than 1 percent of students with an IEP in both charter schools and traditional schools were declassified over the study period. The gap in the declassification rate of 0.04 percentage points favoring charter school declassifications over the four years of the study was too small to explain the 2 percentage point reduction in the charter school special education enrollment gap.

The exploratory results signal that, by the 2013/14 school year, charter schools in Louisiana were serving students with IEPs in the high school grades at rates similar to or higher than traditional schools in the state. The findings suggest that public charter schools are less successful at attracting and enrolling students with IEPs into their schools in the early elementary grades. Finally, these findings confirm those of prior studies that charter schools declassify students as no longer requiring special education services at higher rates than do traditional schools, but those rates of declassification remain less than 1 percent over a four-year period.
1/23/2018
REL 2018286 Initial Spanish proficiency and English language development among Spanish-speaking English learner students in New Mexico
The purpose of this study was to understand whether differences in initial kindergarten Spanish proficiency for English learner students were linked to disparities in attaining English proficiency and academic achievement in reading and math by grades 4 and 5. The study followed two cohorts of Spanish-speaking English learner students from four districts in New Mexico from kindergarten through grades 4 and 5. The 2010 cohort included students enrolled in kindergarten in 2009/10 and followed through grade 5, and represented 25 percent of the Spanish-speaking English learner students enrolled in bilingual programs in the state. The 2011 cohort included students enrolled in kindergarten in 2010/11 and followed through grade 4, and represented 35 percent of the Spanish-speaking English learner students enrolled in bilingual programs in the state. The descriptive study examined cumulative rates of English learner students progressing toward fluent English proficiency. The study also examined students’ demonstration of grade-level readiness on standardized academic assessments in math and English language arts in grades 4 and 5, particularly for those students who were successfully reclassified to fluent English proficient, and how they compared to state averages at the same grade level. Results were reported out according to three different levels of initial kindergarten Spanish proficiency: low, medium and high. The study found that a considerable portion of English learner students in both cohorts started kindergarten at the lowest English proficiency level, but that results favored students who started kindergarten with high Spanish proficiency. Results also indicated that grade-level readiness for grades 4 and 5 on NMPARCC English language arts and math scores for students who achieved English proficiency in grades 4 and 5 were generally lower than statewide averages for all students. However, students with high kindergarten Spanish proficiency were more likely to have higher English proficiency in kindergarten, to be reclassified to fluent English proficient by grades 4 or 5, and to be demonstrate grade-level readiness in English language arts and math in grades 4 and 5 compared to students with low or medium kindergarten Spanish proficiency levels. Results suggest that differentiated annual targets for English language proficiency progress based on results from the kindergarten Spanish proficiency assessment might produce more accurate annual growth targets for English learner students, and that those Spanish proficiency assessments could serve as a flag for targeting students with a higher risk of struggling to gain English and academic proficiency in elementary school.
1/23/2018
REL 2018285 Impact of a checklist on principal–teacher feedback conferences following classroom observations
In partnership with the New Mexico Public Education Department, Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest researchers conducted a statewide experiment in school year 2015/16 to test impacts of a checklist on the feedback conferences principals had with teachers after formal classroom observations. Of the 336 participating schools in New Mexico, the REL Southwest researchers selected half at random in fall 2015 as the treatment group. All school leaders in the treatment group received the checklist as an email attachment, plus a hyperlink to a three-minute principal testimonial video. School leaders in the control group received an email attachment with a guide that reprised the five tips about feedback included in the mandatory New Mexico Public Education Department-sponsored professional development. As of one year later, the checklist had few clear impacts on the quality of feedback, professional development outcomes, instructional practice, and student achievement. The exceptions are that teachers who received the checklist reported that their principals were less likely to dominate the feedback conferences, and reported that they were more likely to follow their principals’ professional development recommendation. The overall usage of the feedback checklist was moderate, with about three-quarters of principals who were encouraged to use the checklist reporting that they saw it, and 58 percent reported using it in post-observation feedback sessions with at least a few teachers. This study suggests that if school districts or state departments of education wish to change school leaders’ feedback conferences with teachers, they need to invest in more substantial training for their school leaders.
1/23/2018
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