Supporting Learning in the Classroom: Back-to-School with REL Mid-Atlantic

Supporting Learning in the Classroom: Back-to-School with REL Mid-Atlantic

Sep 03, 2019
Joanne Pfleiderer

 RELevant: Viewpoints and Findings from the REL Mid-Atlantic

Educators hold the keys to unlocking a brighter future for their students, whether engaging with parents, creating a supportive environment that values equity and inclusion, or improving instruction. We’ve been working with educators and leaders across the mid-Atlantic region to identify, evaluate, and implement successful strategies to support classroom learning. Here’s a bit of what we’ve been up to and will be looking at during the upcoming school year.

Back to School

Photo: Rich Clement

The power of home visits in building relationships

Children’s academic performance is strongly tied to whether their parents are involved in and engaged with their education. Teachers visiting children’s homes to meet with parents can help create these connections. REL Mid-Atlantic and the District of Columbia (DC) Public Schools teamed up to study what happens when teachers and parents come together to form trusted connections, which lay the foundation for collaboration to support learning. The results will provide some of the first rigorous evidence on the impacts of relationship-building home visits, helping DC Public Schools and other districts decide how to encourage family engagement that improve student outcomes. Read more and watch a related video.

Taking the temperature: The importance of school climate

A positive school climate corresponds to higher academic performance, better mental health, less bullying, and many other positive student outcomes. In a safe and caring school environment, students feel respected and connected and think their work is meaningful. But how can you measure school climate, a key step toward improving it? Take a look at some of the many assessments developed to measure and improve school climate. Listen to stakeholders discuss a partnership to help DC Public Schools validate measures of social-emotional learning. And learn more about the value of helping all students feel “loved, challenged, and prepared.”

Supporting diversity: Policies and strategies

Expanding the diversity of the teacher workforce is one promising strategy to increase the achievement of students of color and reduce achievement gaps. Find out more about how a diverse workforce might help close large, persistent racial and ethnic achievement gaps as well as how teachers can use students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds as resources to support learning.

Measuring up

Standardized testing can be controversial, in part because of the time it takes from classroom instruction. Computerized adaptive testing, in which test questions are customized for each student based on the student’s previous responses, has the potential to reduce testing burden and produce more precise measures of student learning that take less time to complete than traditional tests. Read our infographic on the pros and cons of computerized adaptive testing for educators to consider.

Making the transition to the world of work

Although many employers hold firm ideas about the skills that are critical for workplace success, students tend to underestimate their importance or the degree to which they possess these skills. To address the need for a shared understanding about strategies to promote the development of essential career skills, we work with educators and employers in the REL’s alliance on readiness for career entry and success. We boil down frameworks of critical academic and soft skills and help districts and schools identify skills they should focus on and ways to promote them. Read our blog post on soft skills and fact sheet on measuring them.

Interested in learning more about how REL Mid-Atlantic can partner with you to tackle important challenges in your school or district? Contact us at

Cross-posted from the REL Mid-Atlantic website.

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Joanne Pfleiderer

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