Understanding the problem of research use is not enough. As we embark on the next phase of this initiative, we want to support studies of how to improve the use of research evidence in ways that benefit youth.
Policymakers, funders, and researchers today view research–practice partnerships (RPPs) as a promising approach for expanding the role of research in improving educational practice. Although studies in other fields provide evidence of the potential for RPPs, studies in education are few. This article provides a review of available evidence of the outcomes and dynamics of RPPs in education and related fields. It then outlines a research agenda for the study of RPPs that can guide funders’ investments and help developing partnerships succeed
While many macro-level policies and interventions to address poverty are essential to the survival of the poor, a closer consideration of how these policies or programs are experienced at the individual level, and how micro processes, relationships, interactions, and discourse promote or inhibit opportunity, may improve efforts to reduce inequality by identifying and ultimately removing barriers to social capital for those who need it the most.
In 2009, we launched an initiative to study research use in the worlds of policy and practice. Staff assumed that knowing more about the potential users of research would improve the production and use of research, which we defined as empirical evidence derived from systematic methods and analyses. Findings are now accumulating. This essay takes stock of what we are learning about the acquisition, interpretation, and use of research evidence, and briefly describes our call for proposals, cross-cutting themes, and key unanswered questions.
Investing in Knowledge highlights the complexity of inequality by highlighting its different distinctions and definitions, and outlines the dominant approaches of funding organizations who support research on youth inequality in the U.S. Finally, drawing on an understanding of the current landscape, Bruch offers three strategies for advancing efforts to understand and address youth inequality.
Despite widespread recognition of a research–practice gap in multiple service sectors, less is known about how pre-existing communication channels facilitate the flow of information between researchers and practitioners. In the current study, we applied an existing typology of brokerage developed by Gould and Fernandez to examine what types of brokerage facilitate information spread between researchers and educational practitioners.
Describing the structure and operations of partnerships, and the potential challenges to making them work, Palinkas and colleagues present three models of successful partnerships in the child welfare and mental health systems. Case studies for each model provide rich examples of the common elements and central themes that characterize the value of partnerships as a strategy for delivering high quality services in high demand settings.
Education is a gateway for opportunity—a pathway to progress through which young people acquire the skills, knowledge, and experiences to obtain good jobs and prosperous futures. Yet in the U.S., education is highly unequal. On average, students from minority backgrounds, immigrant origins, and economically disadvantaged families leave school earlier, receive fewer degrees and certificates, and exhibit lower academic skills than their more privileged peers. To address these inequalities, we need research that identifies effective responses to the challenges that give rise to unequal opportunities and outcomes.
Susan Maciolek synthesizes findings from Foundation-supported studies on the use of research evidence in domains including child welfare, child mental health, and justice. Maciolek, a former William T. Grant Foundation Distinguished Fellow, discusses the perspectives of policymakers and practitioners and what they might want to know as they consider using research evidence. She also provides insights that may enable researchers to contribute to a knowledge base that is more relevant and, ultimately, more useful in the realm of social services.
Raudenbush and Bloom outline key features of an ambitious project project that will bring together prominent university-based methodologists and the three research firms (MDRC, Mathematica Policy Research, and Abt Associates, Inc.) that have conducted the most large multi-site trials in education, youth development, and related fields. This paper describes the project's statistical foundation, and identifies its anticipated benefits. The project is organized in two parts: 1) developing and applying methods for learning about impact variation and 2) developing and applying methods for learning from impact variation.
Margarita Alegría and colleagues investigate disparities in mental health and mental health services for minority youth. Taking a developmental perspective, the authors explore four areas that may give rise to inequalities in mental health outcomes, highlight specific protective factors and barriers to care, and, finally, outline an agenda for future research.
Carola Suárez-Orozco and colleagues explore how inequality plays out along six dimensions of disadvantage particular to immigrant-origin families. The authors outline how developments in educational and family contexts can alleviate unequal outcomes and opportunities, and introduce four broad areas of future research that may inform policies, programs, and practices to reduce inequality for immigrant-origin children and youth.
In “The New Forgotten Half and Research Directions to Support Them,” James Rosenbaum and colleagues find that many young people who enroll in community college fail to complete their studies and attain a degree, and that these youth fare no better in the labor market than those with only a high school diploma.
Using data from the nationally representative Educational Longitudinal Survey (ELS), the authors examine the circumstances of youth who drop out of community college before attaining a credential, discuss institutional challenges in the era of increased college access, and outline a research agenda to help youth move beyond "some college" and achieve their potential.