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Researchers To Study How School Leaders Use Data To Inform Decisions

The United States Department of Education has awarded $5 million to three universities to find out how (or whether) school and district leaders use research to inform their decisionmaking.

The grant will fund the creation of a new center — dubbed the National Center for Research in Policy and Practice — whose aim is to study how research is currently used in schools and in what circumstances research is used to inform decisions.

It will also look to find ways that education-related research "could be made more meaningful for educational leaders through long-term partnerships between researchers and practitioners."

Research will be conducted by investigators at the University of Colorado Boulder, the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University and the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University.

"We know very little about how people in district offices and schools actually use evidence from research studies to inform their decisions," said CU-Boulder professor Bill Penuel, lead investigator for the project, in a prepared statement.

"Research use is an incredibly timely issue as policymakers and funders increasingly call for school and district leaders to use research in their decision making," said Cynthia Coburn, also a visiting professor at the Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy. "We see this as an opportunity to contribute to the national discussion of research use."


About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director, education for 1105 Media's Public Sector Media Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal. A 22-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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