Catalyzing a Network of Educational Networks to Learn How to Improve

This grant will support the formation of a learning community of research-practice networks.

Funding will support the creation of a new learning community of three research-practice-networks—the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, WestED/REL Alliance, and New Visions for Public Schools. Each network involves multiple districts, schools, or universities that work with researchers to improve teaching and learning. Given their focus, Bryk refers to the group of partnerships as “networked improvement communities.” The Carnegie Foundation will convene a series of meetings with a design principal, practitioner, and evaluator from each network. Over the two year grant period, each network will host a meeting at its site. Bryk and colleagues will use a structured protocol to compare and contrast these networks’ guiding theories of action, challenges, and solutions. They will also assess changes and improvements over time. The project team will review literature relevant to networks, social learning, and innovation and use what they learn to produce a case-informed framework describing how networks can improve practice in education. Bryk will also develop a system of indicators for tracking network activities and improvement. The framework and tracking system will be shared at a culminating conference with participating networks, teams from other networks, foundation staff, and others. Learning from this award will guide the development of a larger, empirical study on the role of networks in improving practice and inform our Foundation’s activities. The Foundation’s research-practice learning community includes a more varied group of partnerships and uses similar methods for learning. In addition, we will share materials, attend each other’s meetings, and learn from each other’s work.