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Evaluating the Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs)


  • How can we track the downstream influence of Regional Educational Laboratories?
  • Abt is conducting three studies and designing a future REL evaluation.
  • Findings will help RELs support a more evidence-based educational system.
The Challenge

The Institute of Education Sciences’ Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) provide applied research and trainings to state and local education agencies. Their mission is to support a more evidence-based educational system. To determine whether the RELs are fulfilling that mission, Abt was hired to evaluate the 10 RELs. A key challenge in this work is determining how to measure the results and downstream influence of REL capacity building assistance within state and local educational agencies.

The Approach

Abt is:

  • Conducting a series of three quick-turnaround analyses of the structure of REL governing boards and partnerships; challenges in REL capacity building; and the quality of REL training, coaching, and technical support.
  • Assessing how findings from these analyses can influence the direction of the 2022-2027 REL cycle.
  • Using innovative measures and methods to track the downstream use of research evidence.
  • Designing a rigorous evaluation of the next REL cycle using these innovative measures and methods.
The Results

Abt completed the first quick-turnaround analysis of the structure of REL governing boards and partnerships. These findings are being used to inform the REL Performance Work Statement for the 2022-2027 cycle, and will be used to inform the development of a rigorous evaluation design for the next REL cycle. Ultimately, this work will shed light on how federal technical assistance efforts can be evaluated, and how the downstream influence of these efforts can be measured. The project is scheduled to conclude in September 2021.