School & District Management Opinion

Putting Research-Practice Partnerships Into Action

By Urban Education Contributor — May 04, 2017 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

This week we are taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming to reintroduce the concept of research-practice partnerships and allow those who are just joining us to catch up. In today’s post, we reflect on the posts from previous weeks and the value of research-practice partnerships.

This post is by Nina Spitzley, Program Administrator of the National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP, @RPP_Network).

It’s been about five weeks since we first launched this blog — we hope you are enjoying learning about some of the great work done by research-practice partnerships (RPPs) from around the country. We have plenty more exciting research and insightful commentaries to share in the coming weeks, but for now, we’ll take a quick look back and reflect.

What did we learn from previous posts?

So far, we have heard from five partnerships located in various major metropolitan areas: San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston and most recently, Philadelphia. Topics included early education, school climate, school choice and segregation and, more than once, English Language Learner research. We read about how research answered various important questions related to these topics, including questions about the effect of Transitional Kindergarten on student literacy in San Francisco, about measuring school climate in Chicago, about the effect of school choice on student segregation in New Orleans, the effectiveness of English Language Learner programs in Houston and characteristics of English Language Learners in Philadelphia.

As is often the case with research, these posts not only answered questions, but also raised new ones. For example, how can the data about English Language Learners in Philadelphia now be used to improve instruction? How important of an outcome should literacy be for Transitional Kindergarten?

Or, going beyond local contexts: Should other states consider adopting Transitional Kindergarten? How do characteristics of English Language Learners in Philadelphia compare to those in Houston and can the two cities learn from each other’s ELL programs and research? Research-practice partnerships, as defined in our previous post, are uniquely positioned to try and answer these questions as well.

Of course, we didn’t only learn about research studies done by researchers. We also learned about the practice side by hearing from practitioners — those who administer education, such as school district and state department leaders, principals, and teachers — every week. For example, we read an insightful account of a Chicago principal using the 5Essentials survey to improve his school and a New Orleans community leader’s commentary on school choice and segregation research findings. We learned about a Houston school district modifying its bilingual programming following research findings on what works best for English Language Learners and actively working with researchers on follow-up studies.

How do the RPPs showcased in these posts bridge the research-practice divide?

While the blog posts we read here come from different viewpoints — generally, a researcher viewpoint or a practitioner viewpoint — there is not a single post that does not reference the other side and its importance. Instead, you’ll find that a common thread throughout all the posts is the collaboration between researchers and practitioners in many aspects prior to, during, and after specific research projects: Blog posts frequently mention practitioners guiding research questions, researchers seeking practitioner input, researchers and practitioners sharing data before and during research projects, and later, putting research implementation into practice sparking further research.

This recurring element of research-practice collaboration is to be expected in the entries of our blog; after all, our contributors are exclusively research-practice partnerships, which are formed precisely with the purpose of overcoming the research-practice gap by collaborating. By bringing together the research side and the practice side in education, which share a common concern for improved student outcomes but have historically differed significantly in their approaches, RPPs seek to produce more relevant research and increase the use of research evidence in decision making.

The posts featured in this blog illustrate what that can actually look like. As such, even blogging about research projects and outcomes and their implications for practice might contribute to showcasing the value of research-practice partnerships. In our initial introduction post to this blog, we identified one overarching goal: To showcase the close connection between research and practice and the mutually beneficial nature of the relationships formed in RPPs. We hope by bringing together researcher and practitioner voices, this blog is doing just that and can itself be a tool that contributes to a closer research-practice connection.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be hearing from a couple of the Regional Educational Laboratories and from RPPs located in Louisville, New York City, and Portland. We are excited to hear about more research projects and findings, lessons learned, opinions and commentaries, and collaborations from across the country!

The National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP), housed at the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, aims to develop and support research-practice partnerships in education in order to improve the connection between research, policy, and practice. Connect with NNERPP on Twitter.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management 10 Ways to Tackle Education's Urgent Challenges
As the school year gets underway, we ask hard questions about education’s biggest challenges and offer some solutions.
2 min read
Conceptual Image of schools preparing for the pandemic
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Reported Essay Principals Need Social-Emotional Support, Too
By overlooking the well-being of their school leaders, districts could limit how much their schools can flourish.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management From Our Research Center Educator Stress, Anti-Racism, and Pandemic Response: How You're Feeling
A new nationally representative survey offers key takeaways from teachers, principals, and district leaders.
EdWeek Research Center
1 min read
2021 BI COVER no text DATA crop
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Download 8 Tips for Building a Digital Learning Plan That Conquers Chaos
Craft flexible strategies, encourage experimentation with new instructional models, and regularly solicit feedback.
1 min read
onsr edtech tips