REL West in the News

New Guide from U.S. Department of Education Helps School Districts Make the Most of Opportunities to Learn What Works

New Guide from U.S. Department of Education Helps School Districts Make the Most of Opportunities to Learn What Works

Making the Most of Opportunities to Learn What Works: A School District's Guide
June 2, 2014 | Institute of Education Sciences


A new guide, published by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences, helps district and school leaders recognize opportunities to embed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) into planned policies or programs. Opportunistic RCTs can generate strong evidence for informing education decisions—with minimal added cost and disruption.

The guide also outlines key steps to conduct RCTs and responds to common questions and concerns about RCTs.

A real life example of how one district took advantage of an opportunity to learn whether a summer reading program worked is also included in the new guide.


Utah Dropout Prevention Alliance Publishes First Newsletter

Utah Dropout Prevention Alliance Publishes First Newsletter

Utah Dropout Prevention Alliance Spring 2014 Newsletter
May 20, 2014 | Dropout Prevention Alliance for Utah Students with Disabilities


The Dropout Prevention Alliance for Utah Students with Disabilities recently published its first newletter! The Spring 2014 edition features a spotlight on Highland High School in Salt Lake City, which has improved student grades and attendance through an intensive focus on 9th grade students, policy changes, and use of early warning indicator data, among other strategies.

The newsletter also includes articles about recent state events focused on improving student attendance and reducing dropout, as well as links to presentations, webinar archives, and useful tools and resources.


REL West Researcher Prominently Featured in Annual Coverage of High School Dropouts

REL West Researcher Prominently Featured in Annual Coverage of High School Dropouts

Diplomas Count 2013
June 6, 2013 | Education Week


REL West at WestEd's Senior Research Associate BethAnn Berliner appeared three times in Education Week's annual coverage of high school graduation, "Diplomas Count 2013."

The new, national report featured Berliner's work on dropout prevention.

In the article, "A 'Neglected' Population Gets Another Chance at a Diploma," Berliner comments that educators have had access to systems that predict students at risk of dropping out and programs to help retain those students.

"But I don't think there was a hunger to return dropouts before the economic downturn," she says. "It was believed that there were still places in the economy that they could go. We know now that isn't the case."

The article, "Many Dropouts Try—and Fail—to Return to School," profiles a research project in which Berliner studied the reenrollment of high school dropouts in a large, urban school district. Of those who initially dropped out of high school, nearly a third returned to school at least once. But fewer than 20 percent of those who had dropped out eventually made it all the way back to graduate.   

In "Online Providers Find a Market in Dropout Recovery," the author explains that educators have "done a bad job of selling credit recovery," the process of helping student make up credits toward graduation that they missed by dropping out. "It's actually content recovery," says Berliner. "We're setting students up for a very limited future if we don't give them the content. ... They need to be knowledgeable, not just get units."


Many Dropouts Try—and Fail—to Return to School

Many Dropouts Try—and Fail—to Return to School

Link to Education Week
May 31, 2013 | Education Week


REL West's published report, Reenrollment of High School Dropouts in a Large, Urban School District, was featured in Education Week. Check out the article and then access the report.


WestEd Awarded New REL West Contract

January 4, 2012


WestEd has received a multi-year contract from the U.S. Department of Education to operate the Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West), comprising Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah. WestEd and its parent agencies, Far West Laboratory and Southwest Regional Laboratory, has held the contract for this regional laboratory continuously since the federal program began in 1966.

The Institute of Education Sciences within the Department of Education oversees the 10 RELs nationwide.

"We are pleased to have an opportunity to carry out what should be a challenging and rewarding scope of work for the new lab," says Gary Estes, WestEd Chief Program Officer and REL West Co-Director. "We look forward to working as a partner with new collaborative alliances throughout the western region as this work develops."

REL West serves the region by providing scientifically valid research findings that help meet the needs of educators, from teachers to state chief officers.

Laboratory staff draw from existing high-quality research, as well as conduct research and development projects and experimental studies. They also help stakeholders interpret evidence and build their own research capacity.