February 2016  

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Director's Perspective: Introducing Our New Director, Dr. Patty Kannapel
From the REL Director: Continued Success in 2016

REL Appalachia Adds Two New Members to Its Governing Board
Gayle Conelly Manchin
Donna Hoylman Peduto
REL Appalachia is honored to announce the addition of two new members to its 
Governing Board: Gayle Conelly Manchin and Donna Hoylman Peduto. Through their work with the West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE), both bring an in-depth knowledge of the issues facing that state's education system. Gayle Manchin was appointed to the WVBE in 2007; she served as board president from 2013 to 2015. Donna Peduto, as director of operations for WVBE, conducts research and policy analysis to inform its decisions.

We welcome these two outstanding education leaders to the REL Appalachia Governing Board, and we look forward to engaging them in our work in the coming years. Find out more about REL AP's Board and its new members here.

We're Spotlighting the Importance of Data Use. Join Us!
REL Appalachia is bringing awareness to the importance of using data in improving teaching and learning, and we are asking educators to help! As part of a newly launched outreach initiative called "I LOVE DATA," REL Appalachia -- with the help of regional partners -- is placing mirror clings with that slogan in Virginia and Tennessee schools, in a place they cannot be ignored: on teacher lounge bathroom mirrors.

The clings direct educators to visit REL AP's I LOVE DATA webpage, where they can learn more about existing research, listen to what other teachers are saying about the professional learning we lead, and find out about upcoming events.

We are asking educators to help spread the word about the importance of using data by sharing how they or their schools are already putting data to work. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #MyDataStory or #gooddata and send us a tweet or a picture via @REL_Appalachia so we can put a national spotlight on your success.

If you are interested in receiving clings to place in your school, please email us at relappalachia@cna.org.
Nashville's Data Story: Using Data to Support Literacy
by Margie Johnson
When I was first hired as Business Intelligence Coordinator for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) in 2012, literacy scores were low among our middle school students, and my primary task was to help build educators' capacity to use data to inform their practice and improve students' literacy.

I reached out to REL AP in 2013 to find out whether they would be able to partner with us, and we held our first meeting with REL AP in June that year. We built a strategy for achieving our initial objectives and long-term goals through research and technical assistance. Our initial objectives included identifying the knowledge and skills educators would need to use data to improve instruction, and developing a roadmap for supporting collaborative data use in MNPS schools.

As our work progressed into the next year, we formed plans to build on what we had already done using feedback from our previous activities. Together, MNPS and REL AP provided professional development on data use and how to implement best practices for literacy instruction. We also developed tools that MNPS could use to evaluate implementation of our data-use procedures and to measure the extent to which educators were using data.

This year, we are piloting the procedures we developed for supporting teachers' data use, as well as evaluation tools for measuring their implementation, in five middle schools. We also are hosting in-depth professional development to help support educators in leading collaborative data use -- an exciting next step.

With this year's work, MNPS and REL AP are that much closer to reaching our long-term goal of equipping educators to improve their instruction -- and ultimately, students' literacy outcomes -- through data-driven decisionmaking!
New REL Appalachia Study Examines Teacher Retention, Mobility, and Attrition in Kentucky
In response to regional interest in information on teacher retention rates, REL Appalachia conducted a study of retention, attrition, and mobility rates for classroom teachers in the Kentucky public school system. The study found that the Kentucky teacher workforce is relatively stable, with 86% of teachers remaining at the same school year-to-year, on average. This rate is similar to the national average. However, rates of retention, mobility, and attrition vary by certain teacher characteristics, such as age and years of experience, as well as by school characteristics such as geographic location and student racial/ethnic diversity.

Read the full report here, or click on the images below to see the report summary and infographic.

REL Appalachia currently is working on a similar study to examine teacher turnover rates in West Virginia. Learn more about this project here.
West Virginia's Simulated Workplace Initiative: Q & A with Kathy D'Antoni
Through the leadership of Dr. Kathy D'Antoni, the West Virginia Department of Education has launched a Simulated Workplace program (SW) in high schools around the state. It has established 167 Simulated Workplaces within four years. By the 2016/17 school year, SW will have replaced every traditional career and technical education program in West Virginia.

REL AP currently is partnering with the West Virginia Department of Education to support the implementation of SW through several projects. These include presenting a year-long training of in-school coaches, producing training videos, and helping select evaluation measures and creating an evaluation plan for the program based on the literature on career and technical education. (You can learn more about the training series for in-school coaches in the article below.)

We talked with D'Antoni to gain insight on the Simulated Workplace initiative, its challenges, its successes, and its future, as well as the Simulated Workplace model's national impact on how we educate students.

Q: What was the spark for Simulated Workplace in West Virginia?
A: I had met with business and industry over the past 15 years. Over the years, we went from a conversation where they would describe the skill sets they would need from emerging employees/future employees. We went from that conversation to where business and industry were screaming to just give them somebody to show up for work, be drug free, and give them a full day of quality work. I knew the skill sets we were graduating students with were the proper skill sets. What was missing was the work ethic, team building, problem solving, and critical thinking.

Basically, the thought came to mind that we would put [students] in a real-life environment and let them experience and learn hands-on in environments that replicate a real, true life experience. So we flipped the classroom from a traditional classroom into a simulated company or business where the students organize the business or the company: they run it, they do the policies and procedures for their companies, they have uniforms, they have time clocks or some type of formal attendance measure, based on what was happening in the real world in that company.

One student said to me, who went from a 70 percent attendance rate to a 95 percent attendance rate, "Dr. D'Antoni, if I have to get up and call and say I am not coming in, I might as well just come on in."

I asked four different students, at four different locations in West Virginia, why they liked Simulated Workplace. Each student without hesitation said, "Because we are respected." To me that was a very loud and important statement.

What I am seeing with SW is [students] feel they have ownership of their educational process. In turn, it turns their personality (the way they act), and
changes the entire school environment for a positive outcome.

SWSupporting West Virginia's Simulated Workplace Program
Research demonstrates the influence that school culture has on student achievement, so it will be important for West Virginia to maintain a positive and productive culture in schools where the Simulated Workplace program is being introduced.

This past December, REL Appalachia held a webinar as part of a series of events designed to support leaders of the SW program in applying research and evidence on school culture as they help their schools transition from traditional classrooms to simulated workplaces.

The first event was a workshop that introduced SW instructional coaches to a framework called "Who Took My Chalk?" which helps coaches assess and improve the school culture. Instructional coaches are instructors who have had experience implementing SW. They are leaders, and they play a key role in fostering a positive culture among staff and students alike.

The second event was the webinar built on the material covered in the workshop, discussing in depth how coaches can build a schoolwide environment that encourages positive, productive attitudes and openness among staff and students. Participants were given a few "homework" assignments, such as discussing data on their school's culture with their school leaders. These are to be completed before the next event in the series.

When the series continues, with an in-person workshop, participants will have the opportunity to discuss data from a survey administered to SW instructors during the fall of 2015. They also will share best practices around SW protocols and elements of positive culture. REL AP looks forward to continuing our support for the implementation of this program in West Virginia's schools.

Upcoming Events 
Snowbound: Continuing Instruction During School Cancellations 
Location: Webinar
Date: March 15, 2016
Time: 1:00-2:30 p.m. EDT

Key Topics:
  • Research on learning loss during extended absences, and strategies for continuing instruction outside of school.
  • Key features of Kentucky's Non-Traditional Instruction Program.
  • Promising practices for planning and implementing non-traditional instruction.
  • Insights from Kentucky districts that have implemented the program.
Who Should Attend:
  • Superintendents.
  • Central office instructional staff.
  • Principals.
  • Teachers.
  • Other practitioners at the district and school levels.
  • David Cook and Beth Peterson, Division of Innovation and Partner Engagement, Kentucky Department of Education.
  • Administrators from Kentucky school districts that have implemented non-traditional instruction.
REL Appalachia | 703-824-2000 | relappalachia@cna.org | www.relappalachia.org

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