blog posts and news stories

The Power of Logic Models

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has developed initiatives aimed at reducing the number of low-performing public schools in Texas. As part of Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest’s School Improvement Research Partnership (SWSI) with TEA and Texas districts, researchers from REL Southwest planned a series of logic model training sessions that support TEA’s school improvement programs, such as the System of Great Schools (SGS) Network initiative.

To ensure that programs are successful and on track, program developers often use logic models to deepen their understanding of the relationships among program components (that is, resources, activities, outputs, and outcomes) and how these interact over time. A logic model is a graphical depiction of the logical relationship among the resources, activities, and intended outcomes of a program, with a series of if-then statements connecting the components. The value of using a logic model to undergird programs is that it helps individuals and groups implementing an initiative to articulate the common goals of the effort. Additionally, it helps to ensure that the strategies, resources, and supports provided to key stakeholders are aligned with the articulated goals and outcomes, providing a roadmap that creates clear connections across these program components. Finally, over the course of implementation, logic models can facilitate decisionmaking about how to adjust implementation and make changes to the program that can be tested to ensure they align with overall goals and outcomes identified in the logic model.

The logic model training is designed to provide TEA with a hands-on experience to develop logic models for the state’s school improvement strategy. Another overarching goal is to build TEA’s capacity to support local stakeholders with the development of logic models for their school improvement initiatives aligned with Texas’s strategy and local context.

The first training session, titled “School Improvement Research Partnership: Using Logic Modeling for Statewide School Improvement Efforts,” was held earlier this year. SWSI partners focused on developing a logic model for the SGS initiative. It was an in-person gathering aimed at teaching participants how to create logic models by addressing the following:

  • Increasing knowledge of general concepts, purposes, and uses of logic models
  • Increasing knowledge and understanding of the components that make up a logic model
  • Building capacity in understanding links between components of school improvement initiatives
  • Providing hands-on opportunities to develop logic models for local school improvement initiatives

The timing of the logic model workshop was helpful because it allowed the district-focused SGS leaders at TEA to organize the developed SGS framework into a logic model that enables TEA to plan and guide implementation, lay the foundation for the development of an implementation rubric, and serve as a resource to continuously improve the strategy. TEA also plans to use the logic model to communicate with districts and other stakeholders about the sequence of the program and intended outcomes.

REL Southwest will continue to provide TEA with training and technical support and will engage local stakeholders as the logic models are finalized. These sessions will focus on refining the logic models and ensure that TEA staff will be equipped with the ability to develop logic models on their own for current and future initiatives and programs.

This blog post was co-published with REL Southwest.

2019-08-07

IES Published Our REL Southwest Study on Trends in Teacher Mobility

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences published a report of a study we conducted for REL Southwest! We are thankful for the support and engagement we received from the Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance throughout the study.

The study was published in December 2017 and provides updated information regarding teacher mobility for Texas public schools during the 201112 through 201516 school years. Teacher mobility is defined as teachers changing schools or leaving the public school system.

In the report, descriptive information on mobility rates is presented at the regional and state levels for each school year. Mobility rates are disaggregated further into destination proportions to describe the proportion of teacher mobility due to within-district movement, between-district movement, and leaving Texas public schools. This study leverages data collected by the Texas Education Agency during the pilot of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) in 57 school districts in 201415. Analyses examine how components of the T-TESS observation rubric are related to school-level teacher mobility rates.

During the 2011-12 school year, 18.7% of Texas teachers moved schools within a district, moved between districts, or left the Texas Public School system. By 2015-16, this mobility rate had increased to 22%. Moving between districts was the primary driver of the increase in mobility rates. Results indicate significant links between mobility and teacher, student, and school demographic characteristics. Teachers with special education certifications left Texas public schools at nearly twice the rate of teachers with other teaching certifications. School-level mobility rates showed significant positive correlations with the proportion of special education, economically disadvantaged, low-performing, and minority students. School-level mobility rates were negatively correlated with the proportion of English learner students. Schools with higher overall observation ratings on the T-TESS rubric tended to have lower mobility rates.

Findings from this study will provide state and district policymakers in Texas with updated information about trends and correlates of mobility in the teaching workforce, and offer a systematic baseline for monitoring and planning for future changes. Informed by these findings, policymakers can formulate a more strategic and targeted approach for recruiting and retaining teachers. For instance, instead of using generic approaches to enhance the overall supply of teachers or improve recruitment, more targeted efforts to attract and retain teachers in specific subject areas (for example, special education), in certain stages of their career (for example, novice teachers), and in certain geographic areas are likely to be more productive. Moreover, this analysis may enrich the existing knowledge base about schools’ teacher retention and mobility in relation to the quality of their teaching force, or may inform policy discussions about the importance of a stable teaching force for teaching effectiveness.

2018-02-01

IES Publishes our Recent REL Southwest Teacher Studies

The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences published two reports of studies we conducted for REL Southwest! We are thankful for the support and engagement we received from the Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance and the Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance throughout the studies. The collaboration with the research alliances and educators aligns well with what we set out to do in our core mission: to support K-12 systems and empower educators in making evidence-based decisions.

The first study was published earlier this month and identified factors associated with successful recruitment and retention of teachers in Oklahoma rural school districts, in order to highlight potential strategies to address Oklahoma’s teaching shortage. This correlational study covered a 10-year period (the 2005-06 to 2014-15 school years) and used data from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, the Oklahoma Office of Educational Quality and Accountability, federal non-education sources, and publicly available geographic information systems from Google Maps. The study found that teachers who are male, those who have higher postsecondary degrees, and those who have more teaching experience are harder than others to recruit and retain in Oklahoma schools. In addition, for teachers in rural districts, higher total compensation and increased responsibilities in job assignment are positively associated with successful recruitment and retention. In order to provide context, the study also examined patterns of teacher job mobility between rural and non-rural school districts. The rate of teachers in Oklahoma rural schools reaching tenure is slightly lower than the rates for teachers in non-rural areas. Also, rural school districts in Oklahoma had consistently lower rates of success in recruiting teachers than non-rural school districts from 2006-07 to 2011-12.

This most recent study, published last week, examined data from the 2014-15 pilot implementation of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS). In 2014-15 the Texas Education Agency piloted the T-TESS in 57 school districts. During the pilot year teacher overall ratings were based solely on rubric ratings on 16 dimensions across four domains.

The study examined the statistical properties of the T-TESS rubric to explore the extent to which it differentiates teachers on teaching quality and to investigate its internal consistency and efficiency. It also explored whether certain types of schools have teachers with higher or lower ratings. Using data from the pilot for more than 8,000 teachers, the study found that the rubric differentiates teacher effectiveness at the overall, domain, and dimension levels; domain and dimension ratings on the observation rubric are internally consistent; and the observation rubric is efficient, with each dimension making a unique contribution to a teacher’s overall rating. In addition, findings indicated that T-TESS rubric ratings varied slightly in relation to some school characteristics that were examined, such as socioeconomic status and percentage of English Language Learners. However, there is little indication that these characteristics introduced bias in the evaluators’ ratings.

2017-10-30

National Forum to Advance Rural Education 2017


We are participating in 2 discussions at the National Forum to Advance Rural Education, organized by Battelle for Kids on Thursday, October 12, 2017.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12 | 1:15–2:15pm
Quality Teachers in Rural Schools: Lessons Learned in Oklahoma
Join a discussion with the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest (REL Southwest) and practitioners in the Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance about their research focused on two areas of high need in rural schools: teacher recruitment and retention, and professional development. This informal discussion with the researchers and Oklahoma practitioners will focus on how you can use the information from these studies in your own state and school district.
Presenters:
Pia Peltola (REL Southwest, American Institutes for Research)
Susan Pinson (Oklahoma State Department of Education)
Kathren Stehno (Office of Educational Quality & Accountability)
Megan Toby (Empirical Education)
Haidee Williams (REL Southwest, American Institutes for Research)

Rosa Ailbouni Room, Third Floor

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12 | 2:30–3pm
Recruiting and Retaining Quality Teachers in Oklahoma
Learn about research conducted in partnership with the Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest (REL Southwest) and practitioners in the Oklahoma Rural Schools Research Alliance. The research identified teacher, district, and community characteristics that are predictors of successful teacher recruitment and retention in rural Oklahoma which can inform future policy and practice. Join the researchers and alliance members who guided the research and discover how you can use the information in your school district.
Presenters:
Kathren Stehno (Office of Educational Quality & Accountability)
Megan Toby (Empirical Education)
Haidee Williams (REL Southwest, American Institutes for Research)

Great Hall Meeting Room 2, First Floor


If you plan to attend the conference and would like to schedule a meeting with Senior Research Manager Megan Toby, send her an email.

2017-10-04

We Are Participating in the Upcoming REL Webinar on Teacher Mobility

Join Regional Educational Laboratories Midwest and Southwest for a free webinar on October 4 to learn how states can address teacher demand and mobility trends. As a partner in REL Southwest, we will be reporting on our work on teacher recruitment and retention in rural Oklahoma.

Teachers and administrators change schools for a variety of reasons. Mobility can be a positive if an educator moves to a position that is a better fit, but it can also have serious implications for states. Mobility may harm schools that serve high-need populations, and mobility can also create additional recruitment and hiring costs for districts.

This webinar focuses on research addressing the teacher pipeline and the mobility of teachers between schools and districts. Presenters will discuss two published REL Midwest research studies on teacher mobility trends and strategies for estimating teacher supply and demand. Following each presentation, leaders from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Education will respond to the presentations and share state initiatives to meet teacher staffing needs. Presenters also will briefly highlight two upcoming REL Southwest studies related to teacher supply and demand that are expected to be released later this year.

The studies that will be discussed are:
- An examination of the movement of educators within and across three Midwest Region states (REL Midwest, AIR)
- Strategies for estimating teacher supply and demand using student and teacher data (REL Midwest, AIR)
- Indicators of successful teacher recruitment and retention in Oklahoma rural schools (REL Southwest, Empirical Education)
- Teacher mobility in Texas: Trends and associations with student, teacher, and school characteristics (REL Southwest, AIR, Empirical Education)

This webinar is designed for state education staff, administrators in schools and districts with significant American Indian populations, American Indian community leaders, research alliance and community of practice members, and education researchers. If you cannot attend the live event, register at the link below to be notified when a recording of the webinar is available online.

Exploring Educator Movement Between Districts
October 4, 2017
10:00–11:30 a.m. PT

The Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) build the capacity of educators to use data and research to improve student outcomes. Each REL responds to needs identified in its region and makes learning opportunities and other resources available to educators throughout the United States. The REL program is a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. To receive regular updates on REL work, including events and reports, follow IES on Facebook and Twitter.

You can register for this event on the REL website.

2017-09-21

Upcoming REL-SW Workshop Event

On November 19th, Erica Plut and Jenna Zacamy will join REL Southwest Alliance Liaison Haidee Williams in facilitating a workshop on Identifying Practices to Engage Native American Indian Families in Students’ Academic and Career Aspirations. The workshop is being offered to the Oklahoma Rural School Research Alliance members and their colleagues and will take place in Norman, Oklahoma. The goals of the workshop are:

  1. To increase alliance members’ knowledge and understanding of the research literature addressing promising practices to engage Native American Indian families in students’ academic and career aspirations
  2. To provide an opportunity to use the research literature to inform the refinement or development of family and community engagement programs or initiatives that are focused on students’ academic and career aspirations

You can find more information about this event on the IES website.

2015-11-11

Work has Started on Analysis of Texas Educator Evaluation (T-TESS) Pilot

Empirical Education, through its contract with the REL Southwest, has begun the data collection process for an analysis of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) pilot conducted by the Texas Education Agency. This is announced on the IES site. Empirical’s Senior Research Scientist Val Lazarev is leading the analysis, which will focus on the elements and components of the system to better understand what T-TESS is measuring and provide alternative approaches to forming summative or composite scores.

2015-06-05
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