Who collects and uses this research?
In all three SEAs, a “core group” of SEA leaders were chosen to aggregate and review research, leaders as in directors of school improvement, research departments, and accountability departments.
All three SEAs also said it was critical to have a group of people working collaboratively on choosing and disseminating research.
“There is no one individual that holds all the information, which is why we have a group,” said one office director. “All of those different people hold enough pieces that we can have conversations and share information across the table that can…push us along…to that ideal goal at the end.”
When asked why she trusted the research produced by the core group within her SEA, one “influential” office director from State B said: “Because we digest it together. And people challenge each other…We solve problems. What are we going to do about this? And people bring in research and we’ll table things and [then come back to them with the research, and then we’ll challenge the research.”
Do SEAs do anything with this research?
The report notes that all three SEAs sought research to help districts “be more successful in managing the problems of their low-performing schools. And each used research to develop tools and processes that would aid the growing number of schools coming under the purview of accountability mandates.”
For example, State C used its research to overhaul its district and school improvement planning processes. It also encouraged the CII to create a web-based platform using the Handbook’s indicators to help more “efficiently and cost-effectively monitor progress and interact with local educators,” says the report.
State C also developed “change maps,” thanks to research produced by the CII, a process that the state could use to differentiate their technical assistance to sites.
For more examples on how each SEA incorporated their research into state education policy and tools, read the report.
Even though the report notes that all three SEAs use good practices to select and implement research, there is still a need for researchers to “assess the quality of research acquired by SEA staff and underlying research designed for use. While [much] of the [research] identified in our study were written by or cited national experts, sometimes research was added in a fairly superficial manner.”
The report also highlighted the “major” need to strengthen the knowledge base, or create more usable research, which include supporting more varied types of research on policy implementation and effects in understudied areas of education policy.