REL West in the News

California Study Finds Harm for Some in Repeating Algebra, Questions Whether It Benefits Anyone

California Study Finds Harm for Some in Repeating Algebra, Questions Whether It Benefits Anyone

Education By the Numbers Blog Post
December 15, 2014 | Education by the Numbers


Education by the Numbers, a blog published by The Hechinger Report, recently featured an article about REL West's recent report, Who Repeats Algebra I, and How Does Initial Performance Relate to Improvement When the Course is Repeated?

The article was also published in U.S. News and World Report online.


Keep Students with Disabilities on Track to Graduate

Keep Students with Disabilities on Track to Graduate

Link to Education Daily
December 10, 2014 | Education Daily


REL West's recently published report, School Mobility, Dropout, and Graduation Rates across Student Disability Categories in Utah, was recently featured in Education Daily. Check out the article and then access the report


December 2014 REL West Research Digest Highlights Evaluating Educators in New Ways

December 2014 REL West Research Digest Highlights Evaluating Educators in New Ways

Alliance Helps States Map New Terrain in Educator Evaluation
December 4, 2014 | REL West at WestEd


After five years of focused effort, educator evaluation policies and practices are taking shape in Arizona and Utah, supported by data analysis and technical assistance from Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West) at WestEd, through state and regional stakeholder alliances.

In this issue of the REL West Research Digest, read about early lessons learned in implementing multiple measures of educator effectiveness in these two West Region states. And check out recent reports on what other RELs across the country are learning as they put their educator evaluation tools and systems into action.

The REL West Research Digest keeps educators and others abreast of research carried out by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) West at WestEd. In addition, this twice-yearly digest may include descriptions of upcoming REL West work, services, and events, and, as relevant to the West region, of publications developed by other researchers.


Three New REL Reports Focus on Incorporating Multiple Measures into Teacher and Principal Evaluation Models

Three New REL Reports Focus on Incorporating Multiple Measures into Teacher and Principal Evaluation Models

December 2, 2014 | Institute of Education Sciences


 Three new reports from the Regional Education Laboratories (RELs) West and Midwest examine a new multiple-measure teacher evaluation system in Arizona and investigate whether student and teacher survey measures should be added to a principal evaluation model in the Midwest.

Principal and teacher perceptions of implementation of multiple measure teacher evaluation systems in Arizona
In this study by REL West, Arizona teachers and principals in 10 volunteer pilot and partner districts reflect on their first year of implementing a multiple-measure teacher evaluation system. The study, conducted in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Education, describes challenges from the first year of implementation, teacher perceptions of the accuracy and usefulness of the piloted evaluation measures, and perceived changes in teachers' instructional practices and in collaboration among teachers and administrators. The report identifies key issues for developers and implementers of new multi-measure teacher evaluation systems to consider.

Properties of the multiple measures in Arizona's teacher evaluation model
This study by REL West investigates how well Arizona's pilot teacher evaluation model differentiated between higher and lower performing teachers. The study also explores the relationships among the model's component measures—classroom observations, stakeholder surveys, and student academic progress. The findings suggest that the model's observation measure might be improved through further calibration and evaluator training and that aggregating observation ratings into a single composite score may not adequately represent teacher effectiveness. The study findings and methodology may also interest other state education agencies that are developing or implementing new multiple-measure teacher evaluation systems.

The utility of teacher and student surveys in principal evaluations: An empirical investigation
Do student and teacher surveys contribute relevant information on principal performance beyond existing evaluation measures? Using data from one midsize urban school district in the Midwest, REL Midwest investigated whether adding student and teacher survey measures to existing measures increased the power of a principal evaluation model to explain across-school variance in student achievement. The study found that two survey-based measures—classroom instructional environment and instructional leadership—contribute new information on the link between principals and student achievement. This information will help district superintendents, principals, and other district leaders understand the quality and utility of these surveys and make informed decisions on whether and how to include them in principal evaluations. The report also demonstrates a process for evaluating measures that are candidates for inclusion in evaluation models.

And in case you missed it, be sure to check out these related, previously released REL products on educator evaluation:


New REL Study Examines the Rates of School Mobility, Dropout, and Graduation for Students with Different Types of Disabilities

New REL Study Examines the Rates of School Mobility, Dropout, and Graduation for Students with Different Types of Disabilities

School Mobility, Dropout, and Graduation Rates Across Student Disability Categories in Utah
November 26, 2014 | Institute of Education Sciences


To understand which students with disabilities are at greatest risk of leaving school without a diploma, REL West examined the rates at which Utah students with different types of disabilities moved to other schools, dropped out, or graduated compared with all students with disabilities and with general education students.

As a group, Utah students with disabilities had poorer outcomes than their general education classmates, but outcomes varied by disability category. For example,

  • Students with emotional disturbance, multiple disabilities, intellectual disability, traumatic brain injury, or autism were at greatest risk of failing to graduate within four years.
  • Students with autism, multiple disabilities, or intellectual disability had lower dropout rates than general education students but also had low graduation rates and the highest retention rates after four years. 
  • Students with hearing impairment/deafness or speech or language impairment had four-year graduation rates roughly on par with the graduation rate for general education students.

By examining this variation within the population of students with disabilities, this study can inform decisions about which students with disabilities most need interventions; suggest refinements to state and district data systems; and suggest areas in need of further research.