All posts by cschmidt

Supporting student creativity, perseverance, and risk-taking (the good kind)—(Infographic)

When I was five, I saw my sisters riding their bikes and thought it looked fun, so I decided I would learn, too. I got on a bike, toppled over, and skinned my knee. My grandpa, who was watching nearby, helped me up, gave me a little hug with some advice on how to keep my balance, and told me I needed to try again. I got back on, determined to conquer the bike, and started pedaling. I could hear my grandpa behind me, encouraging me and telling me to keep pedaling.

Eventually, with my grandpa’s encouragement, I learned to ride a bike. Without that support, I may have given up, feeling defeated and a bit wounded. Students can feel the same way in the classroom when they don’t feel supported, encouraged, and safe.

Being supportive is one of three key characteristics of effective teachers, along with being intentional and being demanding, that are discussed in McREL’s The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching. Being supportive means that a teacher interacts with students and encourages growth in a trusting, nurturing environment.

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McREL’s research on school and district leaders outlines their influence on student achievement

What do principals do, and how does their role differ from that of central office administrators? How have their roles and responsibilities changed over the years? In this op-ed in TriCorner News, Pam Vogel, superintendent of Connecticut’s Regional School District No. 1, answers these questions and tells the community that competent principals and central-office leaders influence student achievement. Citing McREL research, Vogel states that “Principals see that student learning and progress occurs in their building; superintendents are to oversee that each school is making progress. This is accountability. This is what students and parents should expect of us and what we owe them.”

Read the article here.

McREL plays key role in Tennessee “principal pipeline” initiative

McREL International was named in August 2017 by the Tennessee Department of Education (TNDOE) as one of a group of agencies and school districts that will receive $1 million in grants to support the state’s Principal Pipeline Partnership. Tennessee needs 260–270 principals every year and has the nation’s most advanced school leadership development program, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. Among in-school factors, only teacher quality plays a greater role than leadership in influencing student achievement, she said. The grant program funds principal pipelines in nine regions; McREL is collaborating with Wilson County Public Schools and the Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Tennessee to provide aspiring leaders with training, transition support between program completion and job placement, and an induction program for newly placed leaders.

Read the TNDOE press release.

Balanced Leadership makes news in Tennessee

A dozen educators received kudos from the Blount County, Tennessee, school board for completing the district’s Aspiring Administrator Academy, which is based on McREL’s Balanced Leadership Framework. The Daily Times of Maryville reported that this is the fifth group to complete the training, which is “designed to build potential leaders” through monthly seminars, during which the educators learn the responsibilities of effective leaders in “creating a positive school culture, driving change and focusing on meaningful structures and routines.”

Read the article here.

Oregon superintendent unveils improvement plan that leans heavily on McREL research

Roseburg (Oregon) Public Schools Superintendent Gary Washburn has crafted an improvement plan derived from McREL research on effective teaching and school leadership, the News-Review of Douglas County reported. Washburn told the paper that improving the quality of teaching is the best way to improve student achievement, and he was impressed with McREL’s work with Colorado schools. “My experience with the McREL team personally and professionally leads me to believe that its model will work well for us and offers a framework that we can use to develop a plan specific to Roseburg Public Schools,” he said.

Read the article here.

White Paper | Finding Simplicity on the Other Side of Complexity: A Strategic Planning Process Streamlines District Work and Improves the System for All (2017)

Managing a school district has become an increasingly complex endeavor. But one school district in Pinedale, Wyoming, has found that taking a systems approach to strategic planning not only simplifies district work but also increases the success of principals, teachers, and students.

In this white paper, Jay Harnack, the superintendent of Sublette County School District #1, and Matt Seebaum, senior director at McREL, show how a strategic planning process reduces redundancy and workload by integrating district goals, strategic planning, and school improvement into one streamlined process. By establishing conditions for success rather than reacting to problems, this process creates meaningful, sustainable change that results in the ultimate outcome: improved student achievement districtwide.

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Underwater robots bring STEM to life for high school students in Guam

Last year, teachers across Guam participated in a McREL STEM education training on underwater robotics—and now their students are taking the plunge. Eleventh graders in Dymphnia San Nicolas-Diaz’s math class at Tiyan High School in Barrigada have been working together to design and build their own remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which they recently got to test out in an inflatable pool. Said student Franklin Babauta, “We all designed something from scratch and trying to find the right design was hard, but luckily we all came together as a team. We learned a lot of real-life stuff in that class, and this is probably one of my favorite things that we’ve done.”

Read the article here.

McREL International celebrates 50 years of service to educators

April 27, 2016

DENVER — Fifty years ago this June, McREL International opened its doors as a federal educational research laboratory dedicated to bridging the gap between research and practice. In the decades since, the organization has evolved and expanded its work and clients, but its core mission remains: To provide research and guidance that help educators and students succeed and flourish.

Incorporated in Kansas City, Missouri, McREL started off as Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory, one of 20 labs created and funded under the Cooperative Research Act and Title III of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, to fulfill the need for high-quality research on effective education practices.

Over the years, McREL’s research and research-based products and services—such as Classroom Instruction That Works and Balanced Leadership—have made it a leader in instructional practice, leadership development, program and staff evaluation, standards-based education, and systemic improvement.

Today, McREL operates the Pacific Regional Educational Laboratory and the North Central Comprehensive Center, and works with schools, districts, colleges and universities, and state education agencies across the U.S. and around the world to improve the quality of leading, teaching, and learning.

Now, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Denver, Colo., with offices in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Charleston, W.V., and remote staff located around the country, McREL continues its mission through its thought leadership and by providing customized, consultative solutions for the challenges facing educators today—and tomorrow.

Bryan Goodwin, McREL’s president and CEO, said, “Through all of the changes in education in the past 50 years, we’ve been here, working hard to make a difference for students, teachers, and leaders. For the next 50 years, through changes big and small, we will continue to find new and better ways to ensure all kids everywhere get the education they need to succeed in life.”

McREL International is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving education for all students through applied research, product development, and professional service to teachers and education leaders. For more information, contact Roger Fiedler, director of communications, at 800.858.6830 or rfiedler@mcrel.org.

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PeopleAdmin and McREL partner to bring K-12 districts evaluation technology and actionable data to improve staff performance

April 13, 2016

Fast-growing leader in strategic talent management becomes the exclusive technology partner for the recognized leader in framework-based evaluation systems; offers a unified tech solution for evaluating teachers and principals

DENVER — PeopleAdmin, the leader in talent management software for education, and McREL International, the leader in research-based evaluation and professional development systems, announced an exclusive partnership today that empowers K-12 administrators to more easily use technology and data to improve teacher and principal effectiveness and focus on improving student outcomes.

The two companies form a significant partnership. This is critical in education today as many districts anticipate changes to their teacher evaluation models in light of the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act. The new law shifts the federal oversight of teacher supervision, performance and professional development back to the states.

The partnership combines the research strengths of McREL and its experiences transforming districts through consultative services with the proven evaluation technology of PeopleAdmin’s TalentEd Perform, the most comprehensive and flexible performance evaluation tool used by districts across the country.

“Through this collaboration, administrators will gain easier access to the combined strengths of our two organizations,” said Kermit S. Randa, CEO of PeopleAdmin. “It brings a great advantage to our customers and to K-12 administrators who recognize the importance of having an easier, effective way to evaluate educators and staff using proven technology and research-based expertise.”

Administrators can leverage TalentEd Perform’s easy-to-use technology to simplify and automate supervision tasks, processes, workflows, reminders, recordkeeping, and compliance requirements. They can also gain valuable insights through McREL’s actionable data and powerful reporting tools for analyzing educator effectiveness, school improvement, program implementation progress, and targeted professional development planning.

“Our evaluation systems focus on the professional growth of teachers and education leaders, using research-based, practice-proven rubrics that help educators hone their abilities to help students flourish,” said Bryan Goodwin, CEO of McREL International. “By partnering with People Admin, we are able to bring these great practices to even more educators.”

“The passion, research orientation and sense of duty that the McREL team has is extraordinary,” Randa added. “Many customers have benefitted from our past integration. By taking that even further, our partnership has the potential to help thousands of schools currently leveraging our solutions.”

McREL is recognized globally for its research-based evaluation frameworks for teachers, principals, superintendents and central office leaders, and has for decades conducted educator effectiveness research.

PeopleAdmin, which last year acquired Netchemia and SearchSoft Solutions, serves a third of all educators and administrators across the U.S. education spectrum, who in turn serve more than 30 percent of all students in America. It was founded in 2000.

The partnership evolves from McREL’s previous relationship with SearchSoft Solutions and deepens both companies commitment to excellence in education and helping schools and districts achieve higher levels of performance.

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About PeopleAdmin
PeopleAdmin is the leading provider of cloud-based talent management solutions for education and government. Its software enables clients to streamline the hiring process, onboard new employees, efficiently manage positions and employee performance, develop compliant and defensible audit trails, and use industry-leading reporting and metrics. PeopleAdmin’s integrated talent management suite includes applicant tracking, faculty search committee management, position management, onboarding, and performance management. PeopleAdmin solutions are rapidly deployed, easy to use and supported through a world-class customer service organization. Visit www.peopleadmin.com for more information.

About McREL
McREL International is a private nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to high-quality applied research, development, and service to educators across the U.S. and around the world. By translating information into knowledge, knowledge into action, and action into results, McREL helps transform mindsets, collaborating with educators and system leaders to help students flourish.

McREL to help expand online educational programs for NASA’s CosmoQuest

March 9, 2016

DENVER – McREL International is among ten collaborating institutions that will work over the next five years to expand and enhance public education and outreach efforts for NASA’s CosmoQuest Virtual Research Facility.

Launched in 2012, CosmoQuest.org is designed to provide students, teachers, and the public with an experience online that is similar to experiences available at traditional brick-and-mortar research centers. The “citizen science” site includes science projects like MoonMappers, which invites the public to help map craters and other features of the moon, plus online classes, seminars, and teacher materials.

Funded by an $11.5 million award from NASA, the new collaboration will bring together scientists, educators, and software developers to create new educational and outreach programs, online professional learning communities for teachers, and additional citizen science project opportunities.

“With this funding, CosmoQuest will be able to grow from a seedling full of potential into a mighty tree that supports science and learning opportunities,” said the project’s principal investigator, Dr. Pamela Gay of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). “We are bringing in new partners with added expertise, and we couldn’t be prouder of this team.”

In addition to SIUE, partners include teams from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, InsightSTEM, Interface Guru, Lawrence Hall of Science, Johnson Space Center, McREL International, the Planetary Science Institute, McDonald Observatory, and Youngstown State University.

SIUE will develop educational activities and CosmoQuest’s software, including that which enables the public to help NASA make new discoveries. To date, CosmoQuest programs have helped NASA’s New Horizons team find Kuiper Belt objects and have helped researchers map features of the Moon, Mars, Mercury, and Vesta. Future programs, which will expand beyond planetary science, include a partnership with the University of Texas to explore dark energy, and with Johnson Space Center to help earth scientists more effectively use astronaut images to study our changing planet.

McREL’s consultants will work with educators to integrate CosmoQuest activities into the classroom and help deepen their practice through a CosmoQuest professional learning community highlighting space and earth sciences. In addition, McREL’s research and evaluation team will conduct rigorous internal evaluation of CosmoQuest initiatives to ensure the project is reaching its goal of making impactful innovations.

“We’re working with a network of amazing educational professionals who can support teachers bringing authentic science into their classrooms,” said SIUE researcher Georgia Bracey. “We’re working to build a lasting community for teachers, including an online home where they can get help and share their own lessons learned.”

To learn more, please visit CosmoQuest.org.

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