Fostering Research Use in School Districts Through External Partnerships: The Role of District Capacity

What organizational conditions facilitate the absorption of new research knowledge by school districts?

The Common Core State Standards for math and language arts are challenging school districts to make decisions about new instructional materials, student assessments, and ways to support teachers in learning new approaches. Since school districts sometimes lack the resources to undertake these tasks, they are turning to external organizations for assistance. But we know little about when and under what conditions school districts use research-based guidance from external entities in their decision making. The team will examine the conditions within school districts (e.g., communication pathways, resources, and leadership), the qualities of external organizations (e.g., flexibility and work practices), and the interactions between partners that influence how district leaders use research evidence to implement the Common Core State Standards. They will also investigate how the use of research evidence affects districts’ collective knowledge, policies, and routines. Phase I relies on data collected in 2012 and 2013. Participants included 70 district leaders from the central office and other district units and 42 individuals affiliated with external organizations. Two districts will be selected for study in phase II based on work in phase I.

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