Gustavo Bobonis, a professor of economics at the University of Toronto, and Maria Christian, the chief academic officer for the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE), will lead a partnership to strengthen PRDE’s infrastructure and management capacity to use research and data to advance academic achievement. The obstacles associated with improving academic outcomes in Puerto Rico’s public schools are long-standing and deeply rooted, but the PRDE is deeply committed to improvement efforts informed by research and data. The PRDE and a team of local and national researchers led by the University of Toronto will focus their efforts on initiatives conceived, designed, and implemented by the agency. Specifically, they will: 1) support and assess the impact of a principal training program that is designed to enrich school environments and instructional practices, and 2) shed light on the effects of recent school closures, build on positive consequences, and identify policies for reducing negative ones. The University of Toronto is also committed to institutional change in order to support research-practice partnerships. The Department of Economics, with broader university support, will launch a policy research lab that will provide the infrastructure needed to build researchers’ ability to collaborate effectively and conduct policy-relevant partnership work. In addition, the university’s Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation will expand its new small grants program to create and nurture early stage partnerships.
The University of Toronto and the Puerto Rico Department of Education will partner to produce and use evidence to improve school performance for youth in Puerto Rico.