From the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE)
Easton Highlights RELs Work on College and Career Readiness at AERA Annual Meeting
The new Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) are up and running, and IES Director John Q. Easton highlighted the work of three of these labs in the area of college and career readiness at the recent AERA annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. As chair of the panel discussion "Re-Imagining Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships: The Regional Educational Laboratories," Easton stressed that the 2012–2017 RELs (awarded in January 2012) are tasked with conducting most of their work in the context of a research alliance. The vision for the alliances is one of long-term partnerships among practitioners, policymakers, and REL researchers and technical assistance providers that, over time, increase the quality, quantity, usability and relevance of the REL work. "It's exciting to watch the RELs form and nurture these alliances," Easton said. "They are really changing how the RELs plan and carry out their work."
Panelists included representatives from 3 of the 10 RELs.
- Julie Riordan, a researcher from REL Northeast and Islands (REL NEI), described the REL-NEI's work with the New England Secondary Schools Consortium. The consortium, which includes New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, has been developing a longitudinal data base containing student-level data on high school graduation, college enrollment, and labor market outcomes.
- Andrea Lash of REL West talked about a research alliance in Nevada focused on improving the prospects that students graduate from high school ready for careers and/or college enrollment. The work includes evaluating strategies used in teacher education programs to prepare teachers to identify and improve outcomes for students who are at risk of dropping out of high school.
- Akiemi Glen of REL Pacific presented on their experiences working with community members and educators to improve the appeal and relevance of college for students in the territories of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa. Students in these areas often have family commitments that dominate interest in college and careers. REL Pacific is working in partnership with the governments and schools in these territories to identify and develop career paths that are compatible with the strong family and community ties.
IES Director Easton also participated in AERA discussions on higher education research, innovative programs for district-level evaluation, and nurturing consortia in the maelstrom of education reform.