Research
& Reports

Read our most recent and most requested reports and white papers on education issues, trends, and challenges. We dig deep into the research, analyzing the data and the best practices we’ve seen firsthand in our decades of work in thousands of schools across the U.S. and around the world. Our goal is to provide educators and leaders with new ideas and practical guidance to make lasting, systemic improvements that benefit students. If you don’t find the report you’re looking for, please contact us with your request and we’ll get a copy to you.

Journalists and reporters: McREL’s team of expert researchers, program evaluators, authors, and education consultants can provide background information, research findings, and interviews regarding our research reports and other education-related issues. Download our press kit for more information.

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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.

Harnack, J., & Seebaum, M. (2017). Finding simplicity on the other side of complexity: A strategic planning process streamlines district work and improves the system for all. Denver, CO: McREL International.

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White Paper | Let’s Rethink Online Learning (2017)

In this white paper, McREL’s Bryan Goodwin and Erika Twani from the Learning One to One Foundation propose a new way of looking at online learning—not just as a different way to deliver standard classroom instruction, but as a way to provide personalized learning to students who may not thrive in typical school settings. Goodwin and Twani argue that low success rates in online schools may be, at least in part, the end result of translating a typical Carnegie-unit approach to a digital learning setting, rather than personalizing the learning process to encourage problem solving, curiosity, and real-world learning. The paper describes a research-based framework for creating learning paths for students based on their abilities, interests, and preferred learning styles, while leveraging the promise of education technology to serve struggling groups of students.

Goodwin, B., & Twani, E. (2017). Let’s rethink online learning. Denver, CO: McREL International.

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White Paper | The Road Less Traveled: Changing Schools from the Inside Out (2015)

In this white paper, McREL’s Bryan Goodwin urges education leaders and policymakers to rethink the way we’ve been approaching reform for the past three decades and consider what might happen if we improved schools not from the top down but instead from the inside out—putting curiosity at the center of learning and unleashing a powerful, more engaging system of schooling.

Goodwin shows how schools can flip the top-down paradigm by taking a few key, consistent actions that put student engagement, motivation, and true problem-solving at the heart of teaching and learning to create new, more powerful outcomes that set students up for lifelong success.

Goodwin, B. (2015). The road less traveled: Changing schools from the inside out. Denver, CO: McREL International.

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White Paper | Re-Balancing Formative Assessment: Placing Formative Assessment at the Heart of Learning and Accountability (2015)

In response to high-stakes testing and top-down accountability, McREL’s Bryan Goodwin and co-authors from Measured Progress propose in this white paper a new, more balanced formula for assessment based on curriculum-embedded performance assessments (CEPAs), which better support the deeper learning expected of students today. They also outline how states can use CEPAs in accountability systems and reduce the emphasis on end-of-year summative assessments.

Hofman, P., Goodwin, B., & Kahl, S. (2015). Re-balancing assessment: Placing formative and performance assessment at the heart of learning and accountability. Denver, CO: McREL International.

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Noteworthy Perspectives: High Reliability Organizations in Education (2011)

In this collection of articles by contributing authors, McREL outlines a case for helping school systems adopt the principles and procedures of high-reliability organizations (HROs) in other industries in order to create high-performing, high-reliability schools and districts. Individual articles include “Becoming the Best in the World at Educating Our Students” and “Best in the World: High Performance with High Reliability” by Jim Eck, “Toward Highly Reliable, High-Quality Public Schooling” by Sam Stringfield, David Reynolds, and Eugene Schaffer, and “High Reliability & Leadership for Educational Change” by Thomas Bellamy.

McREL International. (2011). Noteworthy Perspectives: High Reliability Organizations in Education. Denver, CO: Author.

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