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New ED Research Partnerships Tackle Teacher IMPACT, Gritty Grades, and More

The U.S. Education Department had to scrimp a bit this year to come up with money for new research, but a flurry of new research partnerships announced with states, districts, and other organizations may help stretch funds to investigate critical issues like support for English-language learners and implementation of common standards.

For example, IES awarded nearly $400,000 to help the District of Columbia public schools and University of Virginia education and policy professor James Wyckoff dig into the district's controversial IMPACT teacher evaluation system, building on Wyckoff's earlier analysis of the program. In particular, the partnership will explore the effects of teacher mobility between and among Washington district and charter schools, and it will look for teacher behaviors that can be most easily affected by the sort of incentives that IMPACT offers.

As classrooms nationwide grapple with rising numbers of English-language learners, several research partnerships will focus on ways to improve achievement for these students. The Oregon English Learner Alliance and Oregon State University will try to build a clearer picture of how ELL students get reclassified as they become for adept in English. In Fort Worth, district administrators and researchers from WestEd will look for interventions to keep the more than half of immigrant ELL students who drop out on track to graduation. And SRI International researcher Savitha Moorthy will work with the Clark County, Nev. school system to explore how English-learners adapt to the state's new middle school science standards, based on the next-generation science standards. Each partnership got close to $400,000 in support from ED's Institute of Education Sciences.

Early childhood education is also proving to be a hot topic, with four partnerships in Connecticut, Florida, Oregon, and Washington state. Of those, I'm particularly interested in whether Yale University researcher Michael Strambler and school districts in Bridgeport, Stamford, and Norwalk can find ways to close Connecticut's brutal achievement gaps between poor and wealthier students.

Finally, as education policymakers begin to focus more attention to the academic mindsets that can propel students forward to hold them back in school, the Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP) and Baltimore City public schools will be exploring how school and classroom climates can build up at-risk students' resilience and grit.

There are more than $18 million in new partnerships being launched. You can find out more about them here.

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