California Educational Data Processing Association
The DataBus - Vol. 36, No. 2
February-March, 1996

WestEd: The Region's Single Best Resource for Education Research and Services

Merger: New agency combines strengths of two organizations.

Russ Brawn, WestEd

Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development (FWL) and Southwest Regional Laboratory (SWRL), two nationally recognized education research, development and service organizations, announced in December the creation of WestEd, a new public agency that will enhance their ability to serve students, educators and communities in the four-state region of Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah.

WestEd was created by the boards of FWL and SWRL following several years of discussions about how to improve the agencies' responsiveness to the region's needs, while at the same time improving their ability to work cooperatively. FWL, with headquarters in San Francisco, and SWRL, with principal offices in Los Alamitos, have operated as complementary research and development organizations, with strengths in different arenas, for 30 years.

FWL and SWRL each earned national reputations for the quality of the programs they developed to translate education research into practice in the classroom. FWL is well known for its research and development of programs in child/family studies, math, assessment, science and technology education, among others. SWRL is well known for its work in such areas as language development and school reform policy analysis.

WestEd offers a wide array of services and resources to assist educational agencies as well as state and federal policy makers in the development, implementation and evaluation of educational technology. CEDPA members may be familiar with California Student Information Services (CSIS), a project dedicated to improving student education through the use of technology in school administration. CSIS this month introduced ExPRESS.Cal (Version 2.0), new software based on SPEEDE/ExPRESS data standards, for sending and receiving student records over the Internet. WestEd also conducted the survey of telecommunications capacity at the state's county offices of education to determine what steps must be taken to implement a cohesive, statewide telecommunications network (reported in the December '95/January '96 issue of The DataBus).

"As WestEd, we will be able to provide a more comprehensive set of services than either organization would have been able to independently," said Dean Nafziger, WestEd Chief Executive Officer, and the FWL executive director. "Our vision is to become the single best resource for educators in the region."

Both FWL and SWRL are joint powers agencies, originally created in 1966 in response to federal initiatives organizing regional education laboratories. Each is owned and operated by agencies representing government and education entities in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. Their Boards of Directors and the new WestEd Board comprise leaders from public and private education and business communities throughout the region.

FWL and SWRL are funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), other federal and state contracts, and foundation and other private grants. WestEd headquarters are in San Francisco; satellite offices are operated in Los Alamitos, Los Altos Hills, San Diego, Sausalito and Tucson.

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