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NEXT GENERATION McREL is an organization that challenges—and supports—leaders in education to push themselves and their organizations to adopt new, better, and more effective practices to ensure student success. Inside of this organization, we’re committed to modeling the same high standards to which our clients are held. Stated differently, we “practice what we preach.” We do not advise other organizations to do what we are unwilling or unable to do ourselves. Throughout our 47-year history we’ve organized and reorganized to accelerate our response to needs in the field and to stay ahead of the curve in the frequently changing landscape of education. Anticipation, innovation, and foresight are instrumental to our success. In 2012, we tested ourselves on these standards. To advance professional practice, second-editions of our longstanding bestsellers, Classroom Instruction That Works and Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works, were published, providing teachers with the latest research, strategies, guidance, and instructional frameworks to strengthen their pedagogy. In addition, we produced a series of guidebooks for teachers on Common Core classroom implementation. Internally, we organized our staff into three Program Centers, creating a continuum of research, innovation, development, and service. Three of our most experienced staff members are now Senior Fellows, available to help clients and our staff members develop ideas, people, and opportunities. We expanded our Pacific Center offices, and solidified our presence in Australia. With new structures, processes, and talent in place, we are positioned to provide “odds-changing” service and products to educators across the United States and around the world for many years to come. In every thriving business, both change and focus are constant. Along with managing change, McREL will stay focused on its mission to make a difference in the lives and practices of the educators who work with students around the world. Through high-quality research, analysis, consulting, professional development, and support, we will pursue our vision: to be the organization that changes the odds of success for students and the adults who serve them.

Tim Waters President and CEO



With an evolving and expanding portfolio of work and clients around the world, we realized the organizational structure we had in place for 17 years also needed to change in 2012 to meet long-term growth goals. The new structure combined our former Field Services and Research and Evaluation groups into three centers: Educator Effectiveness, Learning Innovation, and Systems Transformation. While all of our existing work and staff members fit into one of these centers, we also have the flexibility to work across centers to provide the best service and expertise to our clients. This new structure encourages center-focused innovation and development of new products and services; better capitalizes on the strengths of our staff; makes project management more efficient, and strengthens the connection between business development strategies and implementation.


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Center for Educator Effectiveness Purpose: To develop and measure the individual and collective human capacity of educators to 1) change the odds for students through a sharp focus on what matters most, and 2) ensure high within-school quality and low within-school variability in instruction for every student. Areas of Work: Teacher and Principal Evaluation Systems, Balanced Leadership®, Classroom Instruction That Works®, Power Walkthrough®

Center Director Greg Cameron

Center for Learning Innovation Purpose: To advance learning for people who engage with educational content

Center Director John Ristvey

through products and services based on new models and approaches for educators and content providers. Areas of Work: Common Core State Standards, STEM education, early childhood education, out-of-school time, outreach, curricular pathways, standards and assessment Center for Systems Transformation Purpose: To develop, optimize, and transform systems of preK–20 education by helping systems focus on leadership as a collective concept, achieve superior execution of processes that lead to high performance and high reliability, and engage in a continuous and systematic approach to improvement. Areas of Work: Technical assistance to regions and states (through the North Central Comprehensive Center and REL Pacific), district and school improvement consulting, Success in Sight®, Network for Innovative Education

Center Director Pam Jones


tems Tr Sys


AUSTRALIA For years, we’ve brought our research-based leadership and instructional professional development services to educators across Australia. In 2012, to better serve Australian educators country-wide, we began planning the 2013 launch of our first Australian office in Melbourne. Led by education consultant Ross Dean, McREL Australia offers schools and districts (known as networks) the same great professional development and consulting services that have been used to increase student achievement in the U.S. and worldwide: Power Walkthrough®, Classroom Instruction That Works®, Balanced Leadership®, and more. Australia’s National Plan for School Improvement includes placing the best teachers and principals in every school, giving more support to students who need it most, and improving school results. As Australia works to prepare students for success in a globalized knowledge economy, McREL will be there to help schools and networks develop the high-quality teachers and leaders needed to achieve their goals.

Brighton Beach Melbourne, Australia

• Develop highly effective teachers who set high expectations, build strong relationships with students, and teach with intention.

quick fact

Our Power Walkthrough classroom observation system was named as a

• Create a positive and effective school culture by guaranteeing high-quality learning experiences and high expectations for learning and behavior in every classroom.

Top 100 Product of the Year

• Become a highly reliable organization through network goal setting, data use, and innovative systems that improve teaching and respond in real-time to student failures.

by District Administration magazine readers.



For more information on our work in Australia, visit:




In late 2011, McREL’s Pacific Center for Changing the Odds was awarded a five-year contract to administer the Regional Educational Laboratory for the Pacific Region (REL Pacific). REL Pacific at McREL is one of 10 Regional Educational Laboratories established and funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. Launched in 2012, REL Pacific connects educators in Hawai‘i, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau with research on teacher effectiveness, family and community engagement, college and career readiness, and more. Through our Pacific Center, we identify priority needs in the region through a comprehensive review of education system data, interviews with key education agency staff, and ongoing contact with the field. Our REL Pacific Research Alliances bring together education agency staff, data experts, policymakers, and practitioners to work collaboratively to address problems and questions of high priority and relevance to Pacific education. Working together with McREL staff, Alliance members identify problems and questions to be answered through research and evaluation, participate in the development of longitudinal data systems, apply research and evaluation study findings to inform decision making and practices, and use the skills and knowledge gained to help others. McREL also offers customized technical assistance services and resources for educators and policymakers that help translate recent research findings into everyday practice. From conducting information searches to working with stakeholders to analyze their data, and through presentations and expertly facilitated face-to-face and virtual forums, REL Pacific at McREL brings the latest research to the region and helps stakeholders apply it to their specific situations.


Above: Pacific Center Director Nolan Malone, CNMI Commissioner of Education Rita Sablan, and McREL board member Michael Middleton celebrate the opening of McREL’s new offices in Honolulu in 2012. The new, larger office supports an expanding scope of work for McREL in the Pacific Region, currently serving educators across 4.9 million square miles and five time zones.

For more information, visit:



North Dakota


NORTH CENTRAL REGION In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education awarded McREL a five-year grant to manage the North Central Comprehensive Center (NCCC), which serves state education agencies in Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

South Dakota


Through the center, McREL will help the North Central state education agencies increase their capacity to implement, support, scale up, and sustain improvement initiatives for student achievement outcomes, including:


• Implementing college- and career-ready standards and aligned, high-quality assessments • Identifying, recruiting, developing, and retaining highly effective teachers and leaders • Turning around the lowest performing schools • Ensuring the school readiness and success of preschool-age children and their successful transition to kindergarten

quick fact McREL partners with educational service agencies across the U.S., providing professional development and certification training on a variety of our services and products.

• Building rigorous instructional pathways that support the successful transition of all students from secondary education to college • Identifying and scaling up innovative approaches to teaching and learning • Using data-based decision making McREL has held the NCCC grant since 2005. Under the prior grant, our work included developing a multi-year high school redesign project, writing guidance documents for implementing continuous improvement initiatives, creating formative assessment models, and much more.

21 active ESA partnerships in 12 states



For more information about NCCC, visit:


TURN AROUND ITS CULTURE In 2010, when McREL began working with Richwood High School in Richwood, West Virginia, the school was struggling with the challenges of high poverty, poor attendance and graduation rates, and low teacher morale. When the school became the only high school in the state designated as “low-performing” for not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), Superintendent Beverly Kingery of the Nicholas County School District knew Richwood needed to reinvent itself—and quick.

Richwood High School

Quick Wins

Richwood used federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds to work with McREL to implement a reform model focused on improving instruction—our Success in Sight program. The continuous improvement process helped the school focus on three areas of concern: shared leadership, instructional practices, and school culture.

in the second year,

student proficiency went up from 25 to 40 percent in math and 29 to 50 percent

From the beginning, staff worked hard to involve students in the improvement process. The superintendent held an achievement assembly with students, teachers talked about and set goals with students, and data results were posted in the hallways.

in reading, with particularly

strong gains for at-risk students. Attendance and graduation rates went up, and

Several “quick wins” in that first year translated into dramatic results—in the second year, student proficiency went up from 25 to 40 percent in math and 29 to 50 percent in reading, with particularly strong gains for at-risk students. Attendance and graduation rates went up, and in 2012 Richwood met their AYP goals for the first time in six years.

in 2012 Richwood met

their AYP goals for the first time in six years.



FOSTER THEIR SUCCESS Using a whole-school, whole-child approach, Expeditionary Learning partners with schools and districts to open new schools, transform existing schools, create healthy school cultures, and build student character. Beginning in 2010, McREL worked on a two-year pilot project with Expeditionary Learning program staff to refine their theory of action in order to focus on the components that were most important to the program and which could be linked to concepts that already exist in educational psychology literature. After a review of literature and research, and onsite observations of an Expeditionary Learning School in action, McREL developed and updated a model focused on student motivation, character, and engagement. McREL then created a survey to measure student perception of the new theory of action components. McREL Senior Director Andrea Beesley, who served as the study’s principal investigator, noted, “We worked with Expeditionary Learning to define what the ‘it’ of their program is. The instrument that we developed, and the data it collects, will help Expeditionary Learning measure the active, essential ingredients that lead to their success.”

Senior Director Andrea Beesley

“We worked with Expeditionary Learning to define what the ‘it’ of their program is. The instrument that we developed, and the data it collects, will help Expeditionary Learning measure the active, essential ingredients that lead to their success.”

Expeditionary Learning continues to work with McREL to study student-centered learning practices, specifically student-involved assessment in an Expeditionary Learning school, Springfield Renaissance in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 2012, McREL researchers began an experimental two-year study of student outcomes for children who were able to enroll in the school via lottery as compared to children who were not admitted via the lottery. Through classroom observations, teacher focus groups, and achievement data analysis, researchers are examining what Springfield Renaissance is doing to foster its own success, so that future work can scale up to examine the effects of Expeditionary Learning in multiple schools.

-McREL Senior Director Andrea Beesley




TRANSFORMS EVALUATION In partnership with EIRC, McREL provided principals from Lawrence Township Schools in New Jersey training on McREL’s Principal Evaluation System in the summer of 2012. The district implemented the system that fall, and it has transformed the way Superintendent Crystal Edwards interacts with principals and guides them in improving their leadership. Now, Edwards evaluates based on long-term, continuous improvement—setting goals with principals and checking their progress throughout the year; gathering data and evidence continually; and holding mid-year conferences which allow principals to discuss their goals and shift course if necessary. All of this is done in an atmosphere of trust that Edwards builds by spending time in each school building and listening to principals’ day-to-day struggles.



STRENGTHEN COMMUNITY During the past three years, McREL has worked with the Cree School Board in Quebec, Canada, on system-wide improvement in academic achievement across its nine schools. Working from a foundation of respect and appreciation for the Cree language and culture, this partnership has focused on: • Building knowledge and capacity to lead school improvement processes.


• Improving curriculum to strengthen language arts and mathematics


• Developing leadership skills with principals, instructional coaches, and administration • Using data and research to support decision making • Supporting a purposeful school-community relationship and shared vision of success In 2012, the Cree School Board reported gains in student attendance, punctuality, academic performance, and graduation rates.


To read more of our success stories, visit:


NEW PUBLICATIONS ADVANCING THE PROFESSION McREL and ASCD partnered to publish several new books in 2012 to support educators and leaders in raising professional practices and preparing for new standards. The second edition of Classroom Instruction That Works contains new evidence and updated research gathered over the past decade and offers narrative reviews, qualitative research, and an organizing framework that bring additional clarity to the teaching strategies that have the most positive effect on student achievement. Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd ed.) follows the revised Instructional Planning Guide from Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd ed.), which makes it easier for educators to know when, how, and why match each of the instructional strategies with specific types of computer applications, Internet tools, and other educational technology. A Handbook for Classroom Instruction That Works (2nd ed.) accompanies the second edition of Classroom Instruction That Works and supports teachers in applying the strategies and Instructional Planning Guide. The handbook includes exercises to check understanding of the strategies; tips and recommendations for implementation; samples, worksheets, and other tools to plan activities; and rubrics to assess strategy effectiveness. Teaching Reading in the Content Areas (3rd ed.) addresses the impact of new technology, the rise in English language learners, and the influence of the Common Core to show which specific skills, instructional strategies, and learning environments teachers need in order to promote reading in any content area. Common Core Standards for High School English Language Arts: A Quick-Start Guide shows high school teachers how ELA content for grades 11–12 differs from and builds upon the standards for grades 9–10, how the four strands throughout the standards are connected and reinforced, and how the anchor standards establish the frame for preparing students for college and career. Common Core Standards for High School Mathematics: A Quick-Start Guide ensures that teachers know how the six conceptual categories throughout the math standards are connected and reinforced, how the modeling standards bring math content to life through real-world applications, and how the mathematical practice standards are an integral part of the Common Core.



To view all of our publications, visit:



Locations of work in 2012

Quebec, Canada

Pacific Region • Guam • American Samoa • The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands • The Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, and Yap)


• The Republic of the Marshall Islands


47 states

• The Republic of Palau


REL Contract 18%


Federal Contracts & Grants 21%
















Other Contracts & Grants 44%






Publications 4%





Licenses 13%





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2012 Annual Report  
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