Research-Practice Partnerships (RPPs) and Racial Equity in School Discipline: An Exploration of the Functioning of Equity-Centered RPPs and the Use of Research Evidence

How does an equity-centered research practice partnership navigate issues of race and power and influence research use to inform decision-making on school discipline policies and practices?

Research-practice partnerships (RPPs) are mutually beneficial collaborations that promote the production and use of research evidence. Equity-centered RPPs are an evolving subset of partnerships based on equity principles and approaches. Like other RPPs, they are expected to encourage and support the use of research evidence, but there is a need for greater understanding of how equity-centered RPPs function to improve the use of research in decisions to disrupt inequities in K-12 education. In this study, Welsh and colleagues will examine the partnership dynamics of an equity-centered RPP and how its functioning may improve the use of research evidence to disrupt inequities in school disciplinary practices in an urban school district in the Southeastern U.S. Previous research from this partnership has shown the importance of transforming in-school suspensions to reduce discipline disparities, given that the Black-White disparities in in-school suspensions are the largest in this district. The team will conduct a longitudinal case study using data from semi-structured interviews with key decision-makers and the RPP team, observations of school board and committee meetings, school and district-level documents, and partnership artifacts. Findings will provide insights on collaborative processes and partnership dynamics of an equity-centered RPP and further understanding of how they create conditions for decision-makers to integrate research evidence to advance equity.

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