Research and Practice Alignment: How Meaningful Collaboration between Practitioners and Researchers Can Inform Equity-Centered Decision-Making
McMillan, Martha C.
Large school districts across the country are faced with a monumental task - creating and managing a system that has the capacity to ensure that students can learn and grow during their time in school. School districts benefit from research that is closely aligned with their most pressing problems of practice and an efficient allocation of that research to decision-makers who will take action based on the results. All of this must be done within the constraints of the K-12 school district. In order to do this well, districts and researchers must collaborate to ensure that the end result will be useful and beneficial to both parties. The Central City Department of Education (CCDOE) is a fertile ground for research and improving school outcomes. However, improving practice across the district requires alignment between research and policy. Currently, research conducted within the district is designed independently of issues relevant to practitioners. Based on the work of Penuel, Coburn, and others, we investigated the best practices for establishing partnerships, systems for supporting research and ensuring equitable research and why inconsistent sharing across stakeholders occurs. As a result of insights pulled from the literature and the needs of Central City, the following research questions were established: ● Research Question 1: What processes and structures are large diverse school districts using to effectively manage research and data requests? ○ Research Question 1a: How do districts ensure alignment between district priorities and the larger research community? ○ Research Question 1b: How do districts utilize external researchers to address pressing priorities? ● Research Question 2: What efforts do large diverse districts undertake to ensure that research outputs are usable and can inform decision-making? ● Research Question 3: What kind of research evidence and practices would most effectively guide research decisions at CCDOE? Research and Practice Alignment 4 ● Research Question 4: How might diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice priorities guide research decisions at CCDOE?