REL Northeast & Islands


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Letter from the Director: One REL Wraps Up, A New One Begins

Posted by Jill Weber on January 2, 2017

Happy New Year from the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands!

For the past five years, we at REL Northeast & Islands at EDC have valued the opportunity to serve you, our stakeholders across the region. When we began this journey together in 2012, most of us had never been part of a research alliance. Yet many of you volunteered your time and expertise to serve on one of our eight research alliances. These alliances focused on priority topics that matter to you, including rural education, educator effectiveness, English learners, early childhood, college and career readiness, and dropout prevention.

In early 2012, all of our alliances participated in an agenda-setting process that guided each alliance’s mission and five-year work plan. These intentional and thoughtful plans resulted in nearly 50 published data-use tools and rigorous research reports, over 75 public webinars and face-to-face events, and dozens of small workshops and analytic technical support activities with states, districts, and schools across the region. We conducted studies grounded in local needs and using local data. We helped you develop survey instruments to collect data that you were interested in having. We facilitated workshops to support you in building a culture of data use in your schools and designing logic models to guide you when adopting or developing new programs for your students.

During this time, we also responded to over 275 Reference Desk questions, launched a suite of online courses, produced videos and infographics to promote and unpack our research findings, and wrote countless blog posts to inform you about what we were doing and what we were learning.

I am now pleased to announce that EDC, along with our partner organizations, has won the contract from the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to administer REL Northeast & Islands for the next five years, beginning January 3, 2017. This new REL will continue the important work of bridging research to practice in education, and building capacity at the state, district, and school levels to undergo data-driven decision making.

In this new contract, we will focus our services in four high-priority areas: early childhood education and school readiness; college and career readiness; professional development and teacher preparation for effective instruction; and educational equity for access and attainment. We also will develop and facilitate 10 regionally based research alliances and research partnerships to guide us as we conduct rigorous research studies, disseminate new findings, and provide training, coaching, and technical support for evidence use that is grounded in regional needs. I look forward to sharing more with you about this exciting new work in the coming months.

On behalf of the REL staff at EDC and our primary partners, AIR and WestEd, I wish to thank you for your engagement with REL Northeast & Islands over the past five years. Our success in sustaining our eight research alliances and bringing research and analytic technical support to policymakers and education practitioners across the region would not have been possible without the dedication of the teachers, principals, superintendents, state education officials, state lawmakers, and fellow researchers with whom we were fortunate enough to collaborate. It is YOUR commitment to improving education for ALL students that drove and inspired our work, and we learned so much from each and every one of you.

I look forward to continuing this essential work together. May 2017 bring further collaboration, learning and teamwork to benefit all students in the Northeast & Islands Region.


Jill Weber
Director, REL Northeast & Islands

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