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 Pub Number  Title  Date
REL 2016171 Stated Briefly: Reshaping rural schools in the Northwest Region: Lessons from federal School Improvement Grant implementation
This "Stated Briefly" report is a companion piece that summarizes the results of another report of the same name. This study examines implementation of the School Improvement Grant (SIG) transformation model in rural regions, exploring challenges in implementation and technical assistance to support these efforts. This study is not part of the federal evaluation of the SIG, which provides more comprehensive information about SIG schools. Leaders participating in research alliances with REL Northwest and other regional stakeholders requested this study to learn more about how implementation of the SIG transformation model has played out in rural schools across the nation.

Researchers used data from the first cohort of the U.S. Department of Education's SIG baseline database to administer a survey addressing four research questions: 1) How did principals of rural SIG transformation schools rate their school's implementation of the requirements of the transformation model?; 2) To what extent do principals report challenges to implementation of the transformation model?; 3) To what extent do principals report their school received technical assistance for the implementation of the transformation model?; and 4) To what extent are principals' reports of challenges and technical assistance related to implementation? The survey was sent to all cohort 1 SIG principals of rural schools using the transformation model—a group that represented 42 states and Bureau of Indian Education schools. The final sample size was 135 principals (67 percent of the 201 schools where staff members who worked under SIG were still present). All surveyed principals worked in schools that were similar in size and student characteristics to the total sample.

Principal responses highlight challenges in both implementation and technical assistance. The results confirm previous research, by finding that certain elements of the transformation model are challenging for rural schools to implement—particularly, those related to ensuring high-quality staff and family and community engagement. The study also finds that principals are more likely to implement strategies for which they receive technical assistance; at the same time, they implement fewer strategies that present challenges. This suggests that rural schools working on improvement strategies need help beyond just grant funding.
8/23/2016
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.
6/1/2016
NCES 2015118 Documentation for the School Attendance Boundary Survey (SABS): School Year 2013-2014
The School Attendance Boundary Survey (SABS) data file contains school attendance boundaries for regular schools with grades kindergarten through twelfth in the 50 states and the District of Columbia for the 2013-2014 school year. Prior to this survey, a national fabric of attendance boundaries was not freely available to the public. The geography of school attendance boundaries provides new context for researchers who were previously limited to state and district level geography.
8/17/2015
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