Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) there are many more opportunities for State Education Agencies (SEAs) to identify educational challenges, and select, develop, and implement evidence-based programs and practices to inform school improvement efforts. Having a research office that supports continuous improvement is an integral part of this process, and many states are grappling with how to design and build a research office that supports this goal.
At an invitation-only discussion group meeting in Washington, DC, researchers, state-level policymakers, and staff from a number of foundations gathered to learn from one another about establishing a research office focused on continuous improvement. Three states, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Ohio, presented a dilemma they are currently dealing with in establishing or re-designing their research office, especially if they only have one or two staff members dedicated to this work. Meeting participants engaged in peer-to-peer learning sessions, working collaboratively to problem-solve and offer a sounding board for ideas in response to the challenges states discuss. Attendees skilled in participating in research-practice partnerships (RPPs) were also be on hand to discuss the role these kinds of partnerships can play in supporting states’ research needs under ESSA and beyond. They explored how and when to use RPPs, how to identify which issues to work on in the context of an RPP, and how to build capacity to engage in effective RPPs.
The goal of the meeting was for all states to leave with concrete ideas and actions they can implement in their particular circumstances as they build out their research capacities.