How does engagement in a research-practice partnership improve the use of research by state education agency staff? Does participation in the partnership support state education leaders to shift policy development from a focus on compliance to a focus on social justice?
Prior Foundation-supported research suggests that research-practice partnerships are a promising strategy to improve the use of research in policy and practice. However, the field currently has few studies focused on understanding how and under what conditions these partnerships can improve practice. Additionally, most of the research on partnerships has focused on the local level, e.g., in school districts, with less attention to state or federal policy contexts. In this study, Weddle and colleagues will conduct a participatory qualitative case study of a research-practice partnership formed by the Council of Chief State School Officers’ English Learner Collaborative, which includes 18 state leaders representing 15 states from all regions of the U.S. The project will include observations of partnership meetings focused on problems of practice, document analysis of partnership meeting protocols and notes, and annual interviews with all partnership members. In addition, the team will conduct three in-depth state-level case studies using interviews and observations. Findings from this study will build on knowledge of whether and how partnerships can support state education agency leaders’ capacity to use research across multiple state contexts that vary along structural, cultural, and political dimensions. At the same time, it will illuminate whether and how research-practice partnerships can support state leaders’ use of research to move agencies toward using policy to promote social justice and equity-oriented practices for multilingual learners. With guidance from a seven-member advisory board, the team will share findings with national stakeholders and develop evidence-based professional learning materials to support new state leaders as they transition into roles that are focused on supporting English language learners. With guidance from a seven-member advisory board, the team will share findings with national stakeholders and develop evidence-based professional learning materials to support new state leaders as they transition into roles that are focused on supporting English language learners.