All posts by cschmidt

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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Blog post: How to help ELLs with limited formal education

In a recent post on ASCD’s Inservice blog, McREL’s Jane Hill focuses on newly arrived ELL students at the middle and high school levels who have limited or interrupted formal education and suggests strategies that can help teachers meet these students’ unique needs. A focus on functional literacy, for example, and speaking basics is a good place to start, Hill writes, so that students can “do the authentic reading and writing they need to function” as soon as possible. She also suggests an approach developed by Stanford researcher Jeff Zwiers referred to as PIE, which reminds teachers that speaking and listening activities should be purposeful, include intentional language or fill in an information gap, and be used for explicit language development.

Read the blog post.

Research Says column examines the reasons behind the ELL achievement gap

In the latest Research Says column in Educational Leadership, McREL’s Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein look at why, after years of various approaches to reduce the achievement gap between English-language learners (ELLs) and non-ELLs, the gap refuses to budge.

Despite dramatically rising numbers of ELLs in our nation’s schools, language acquisition is still largely misunderstood, the authors write, due in large part to a lack of professional development. This misunderstanding can lead to unrealistic expectations and a “deficit-thinking” mindset that puts ELLs at fault for their low performance. Goodwin and Hein suggest an “asset-based” approach to teacher education could help—one that focuses on language and diversity not as problems to solve but as opportunities to prepare all students for a globally connected world.

Read the entire column.

Article: Do’s and don’ts for engaging beginning-level ELLs

In the February issue of Educational Leadership, McREL’s Jane Hill focuses on six key actions teachers should and shouldn’t take when trying to engage and challenge beginning-level English-language learners. For example, teachers need to understand each ELL’s stage of language acquisition and not group them into too-broad categories, like “high level” and “low level.” Also, it’s important that all students—even the lowest-level ELLs—are engage in the same level of thinking. In other words, don’t water down the curriculum, regardless of an ELL’s level of English language acquisition.

Read the entire article.

McREL and partners to develop digital game to motivate students

An online news report on the University of Southern California’s (USC) website highlights the partnership between Professor of Psychology Daphna Oyserman, McREL International, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Filament Games, in developing and testing a digital game designed to motivate students.

The project, “Identity-Based Motivation Journey to Academic Success,” is funded by a five-year, $2.7 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The South Central Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services (SCBOCES), which serves minority and low-income students, will also participate.

Read the article.

Blog post: Balanced Leadership key to developing leaders at all levels in Tennessee district

In a recent post for Education Week‘s Leadership 360 blog, B.J. Worthington, director of schools for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS) in Clarksville, Tenn., writes about the importance of leadership development at all levels, including, for his district, a comprehensive program for current and aspiring leaders based on McREL’s Balanced Leadership® Framework.

A consistent approach to leadership development, Dr. Worthington says, allows for “a common vocabulary and fidelity in the learning for all participants.” In addition, to ensure they consistently apply what they’ve learned now and into the future, the district has embraced the principles of high reliability organizations.

Read the blog post.

A review: Research sets Balanced Leadership book apart

In a review of McREL’s Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning: Tools for Achieving Success in Your School on SmartBlog on Education, Fred Ende of the Putnam Northern Westchester (New York) BOCES says what the book does, that many others don’t, is “rely more on research and meta-analyses than anecdotes and experiences” to explain how to become an effective school leader.

He also describes his three most valuable take-aways from the book, including:

  • You can never ask “why” too many times.
  • Just because we’re focused on the right change for our schools and buildings doesn’t mean we’re employing the right behaviors to make that change.
  • When we lead, we can’t just worry about the relationships we have with others. We have to cultivate the relationship development between others too.

Read the full review.

ASCD podcast: Every teacher is a leader

McREL President and CEO Bryan Goodwin is one of three education leaders discussing the importance of teacher leadership on ASCD’s latest Whole Child Podcast.

Goodwin and fellow panelists Fred Ende, assistant director of curriculum and instructional services for Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES (New York), and Maddie Fennell, an elementary school teacher in Omaha Public Schools and former teaching ambassador fellow at the U.S. Department of Education, talk about the benefits for both administrators and teachers of empowering teacher leaders, how to create a structure for teacher leadership that works, and how such a structure benefits the whole child.

Learn more and listen to the podcast.