School & District Management Opinion

Welcome to Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice

By Paula Arce-Trigatti — March 24, 2017 2 min read
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Welcome to Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice. We are thrilled to be here and excited to share insights from researchers and practitioners from several cities across the country.

The collection of blog posts you’ll find here will feature work by researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and stakeholders working within what are known as “research-practice partnerships,” or RPPs. We define these as formal, long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations between “researchers” (those working in institutions whose main purpose is to research education) and “practitioners” (those working in institutions whose main purpose is to administer education).

Although these partnerships are not a new concept (for example, the Regional Educational Laboratories have been around since the mid-1960s), the number of RPPs has dramatically increased over the last decade. Recognizing their potential to increase the use of education research evidence in practice, the federal government along with several philanthropies have provided a number of opportunities to launch and sustain RPPs. Most of the newcomers to the field are place-based and more localized in their research efforts -- perhaps the most well-known RPP that follows this structure is the UChicago Consortium on School Research. Today, RPPs are frequently cited as a promising strategy to address the gap between research and practice that is commonly found in education: they purposefully involve both researchers and practitioners in all phases of the research process and depart drastically from how traditional research is done.

Our goal with this blog is to take advantage of the close connection between research and practice that is afforded to those working in an RPP. In particular, for several of the projects shared here, you will be able to observe the mutually beneficial nature of the relationships that are formed utilizing this type of approach. We will thus provide you with two perspectives on the same topic each week. You’ll hear from researchers who will discuss education research and from practitioners who will offer responses to the evidence that researchers discuss. We believe this structure will be useful to several stakeholders, including practitioners, policy makers, community members, and of course, other researchers as well.

Finally, the posts we will share here are curated by the National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP), housed at Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research in Houston, Texas. NNERPP helps to connect several education research-practice partnerships across the U.S. Our mission is to develop and support partnerships between education agencies and research institutions in order to improve the connections between research, policy, and practice.

With this blog, we hope to showcase some of the groundbreaking work of researchers and practitioners from RPPs around the country. Most of the work you’ll read about will take place in major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco (among others), but from time to time, we will also hear from some RPPs that are working in less urban locations. We also hope to highlight some of the different approaches that RPPs use to bridge the divide between research and practice. We welcome you to this space!

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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.