Learn about the Educator Effectiveness Alliance

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REL West partners with regional, state, and district research alliances of diverse education stakeholders to address their specific education challenges. Read this Q&A with WestEd Senior Research Associate Reino Makkonen on one such alliance he is facilitating — the Educator Effectiveness Alliance.

Tell us about the principal data use workshops, and how they helped administrators with decisionmaking.

Last year, REL West conducted workshops in Arizona and Utah, and released an online video-based workshop, to train district leaders to support principals in using teacher effectiveness data strategically to shape teacher development efforts and make key workforce decisions at their schools. These workshops were adapted from a professional learning module from the Center on Great Teachers and Leaders at the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

With new academic standards in place in many states, and a new federal focus on evidence use, the need for principals to create conditions at their sites for effective data review, teacher observation, and collaboration has only increased.

How do those workshops tie into your current work with the REL West Educator Effectiveness (EE) Alliance?

Our EE Alliance is a continuing partnership from the last REL West contract, created and maintained in collaboration with the West Comprehensive Center. It’s a regional group of state education agency (SEA) officials that originally formed in 2010 to learn together about ways to advance federal priorities around educator effectiveness, including strengthening professional observation and feedback.

Today, these SEA officials are seeking to continue to refine and expand their systems of professional support for educators, and, in turn, improve teacher and principal retention (given shortages in particular schools and subjects). So, we’re not only building on our prior research and resources but also on our strong, long-standing relationships with state officials in the region. We’re working with them to continue to gather data to formatively evaluate their initiatives and refine state policy, guidance, and support for their teachers and leaders.

ESSA has given states greater flexibility and authority around promoting evidence-based strategies and the use of data for continuous improvement, and we are excited to continue to support our partners in this area.

How will the alliance be supporting educator development in new ways?

Much of our focus in the last REL contract was on the technical aspects of measuring teacher effectiveness. Today, as I noted, we’re shifting our efforts toward assisting states as they work to help school and district leaders use evidence to learn and improve, by partnering with them to collaboratively analyze data, review studies, and design formative evaluations. For example, all of our SEA partners are working to either develop or refine the trainings and supports available to their school leaders in 2017/18, and we’re helping them analyze and summarize needs-assessment data from surveys and focus groups as well as examine the research base on school leadership.

We’re also working with several districts in Arizona to study a blended (online and in-person) professional learning initiative for teachers around formative assessment.

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