Researchers often wonder why some research ends up being influential in policy and practice while other research is not. Policymakers and practitioners are often frustrated that research that could inform their work does not exist or, if it does, is not timely or easily accessible. These realities reflect a disconnect between research and practice. As long as this divide persists, researchers’ questions will be disconnected from the most pressing educational questions, and schools and districts won’t benefit from research findings.
The National Center for Research in Policy and Practice (NCRPP) aims to explore how and when school and district leaders can productively use research when making decisions, and what can be done to make research findings more relevant and useful for those leaders. This newly launched web site will provide a way for policy makers, educational leaders, and researchers to follow what we discover in our upcoming work.
What is NCRPP?
NCRPP is a 5-year research and development center funded by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. Our team brings substantive experience in studying research use, a deep understanding of district and school infrastructures for improvement, and a record of constructing and developing measurement tools. We’re building on recent work of our Principal Investigators on how district leaders engage with research in the context of research-practice partnerships and on practices of principals to improve instruction in their schools. We’re also making use of our team’s expertise in developing assessments and observation tools to develop some new measures of research use.
Our Key Goals
In the next five years, NCRPP will focus on four key goals:
- Measuring current research use by school and district leaders through a national survey, observational tool, and set of interview protocols
- Identifying what conditions affect when and how research is used, including how individual, environmental, and organizational factors shape research use
- Determining ways that research could be made more meaningful for educational leaders through long-term partnerships between researchers and practitioners
- Engaging with practitioners, policymakers, and researchers to share what we’re learning
Today, states and school districts are making important decisions about curriculum, assessment, and professional development, all areas where research could inform the debate. New uses of technology in the classroom, methods for assessing teaching quality, and addressing the needs of all students present pressing challenges to educational leaders. More relevant and useful research is needed that addresses these concerns of educational leaders, if research is to inform these decisions. Finally, research practice partnerships – a promising new strategy for bringing research to bear on school policy making – are growing in popularity with both district leaders and researchers as a way to produce research that is linked to districts’ distinct needs and contexts. It’s an incredible time to be bridging the research-practice divide, and we are excited to get started.