Florida State University awarded $27M federal education research laboratory

Nicole Patton Terry is the director of the Florida Center for Reading Research.

The Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) at Florida State University has won a $27 million, five-year contract to operate the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) for the Southeastern United States.

The REL program includes 10 regional labs funded through the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education. The labs are designed to bridge the gap between educators and policymakers by providing research-based strategies to improve learning outcomes for K-12 students.

REL Southeast is led by Nicole Patton Terry, the Olive & Manuel Bordas Professor of Education in the School of Teacher Education and director of the Florida Center for Reading Research.

“We’re eager to continue working alongside our partners throughout the southeast region to support the learning outcomes of students in their communities,” Patton Terry said. “It’s a privilege to serve them and help them achieve their goals.”

The REL Southeast has been housed at FSU since 2012. This new $27 million award ensures FSU will remain a national leader in educational research and lets the faculty and staff of the REL continue rigorous and robust research, innovation and engagement, improving learning and achievement outcomes.

“REL exemplifies the kind of cutting-edge research we specialize in at FSU, with real-world impacts,” said Interim Vice President for Research Laurel Fulkerson. “I couldn’t be prouder that this excellent team has once again been chosen to help address local and regional education needs from our teachers, administrators and policymakers.”

REL works in partnership with educators and education stakeholders to bridge research, policy and practice in education. REL work is change-oriented, supporting meaningful local, regional or state decisions about education policies, programs and practices designed to improve learner outcomes. RELs conduct applied research in partnership with stakeholders to address local and regional needs; provide training, coaching and technical support for applying research to education improvement; and widely disseminate findings from high-quality research.

In addition to informing policy and practice through scientific research and large-scale studies, the REL Southeast translates its findings into actionable recommendations for educators. For example, the REL Southeast suite of grade-specific teachers’ guides, Supporting Family Involvement in Foundational Reading Skills, provides teachers with the tools to help encourage and facilitate literacy support for children at home.

In response to COVID-19, REL Southeast refocused their efforts to include supports for parents and caregivers who found themselves educating their children at home. Tools designed for teachers, such as the Supporting Family Involvement in Foundational Reading Skills series, were modified into formats more accessible to parents and caregivers, like the Supporting Your Child’s Reading at Home website.

REL Southeast researchers also looked beyond the classroom to see how new theories and concepts, such as the Social Presence Model, could help strengthen student-teacher interactions and extracurricular opportunities for K-12 students. They also provided a platform for practitioners to share their challenges and successes through Voices from the Field, a blog highlighting firsthand experiences from educators working at the school- and district-level across the region.

REL Southeast’s support of a more evidence-based education system goes well beyond K-12 schools. Numerous events have focused on increasing postsecondary readiness for underrepresented students, and products such as the Preparing Career Ready Students infographic are helping create a ready workforce.

For more information, please visit https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/rel/region/southeast.