University Research Partnerships to Reduce Educational Disparity in College Towns: Building a Model in Tallahassee, FL

Florida State University, Leon County Schools, and Florida A&M University are conducting and using research to improve reading instruction and address educational disparities.

This grant extends an existing research-practice partnership that has already informed programming and instruction in the public schools with its research. The team will engage in two main research activities: 1) using propensity scores to evaluate two supplemental reading programs in kindergarten through 2nd grade, and 2) providing seed grants and building the capacity of faculty fellows to co-develop new research projects with the district. The grant intentionally builds upon the initial reading study as a platform to enhance mid-career faculty skills aimed at generating multiple additional partnership-generated research projects in specific areas that the district has prioritized. This grant proposes institutional change at both Florida State University and Florida A&M University. These universities are in the same community and share faculty across research projects and departments. At Florida State, the grant will develop a competitive award program to incentivize faculty to work with students to develop research activities as part of service-learning programs. In addition, the team will work with the Office of Faculty Development and Advancement to build faculty capacity related to research-practice partnerships and work with the Office of Research Development to showcase research-practice partnership projects at Florida State University. At Florida A&M, the team will work with the Dean of the College of Education to build faculty capacity to develop and execute research-practice partnerships. The school district will build capacity to use research through professional development for teachers and school administrators on the research findings, demonstrating through research how evidence-based approaches have reduced existing disparities in the school, and building communities of practice to identify effective practices and implementation strategies. Ultimately, the team will develop a toolkit and framework to help other predominantly White institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to promote research-practice partnerships as a strategy for faculty and student development and to address disparities in their local communities.

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