School systems are being asked to collect more data about their students, staff and communities than ever before. For systems that are part of the AdvancED network, those data are used as part of the School Improvement Lifecycle, whereby educators engage in a deliberate, systematic cycle to set goals, develop clear plans to reach those goals, implement those plans and evaluate the impact on desired outcomes. Too often, however, educators are data-rich but information-poor, unable to translate the information gathered as part of the School Improvement Lifecycle into innovative, cost-effective and practical solutions. The AdvancED Research and Innovation Network is an opportunity for school systems around the world to work together with educators as well as experienced researchers to develop strategies to drive individual student success. The AdvancED Research and Innovation Network is about finding “what works” in your school system by combining the insights of expert educators with carefully designed research and evaluation projects to answer questions of interest to educators in a timely manner.
What is the AdvancED Research and Innovation Network?
The AdvancED Research and Innovation Network is a collection of school systems within AdvancED that work on issues related to continuous school improvement and look for ways to harness the collective power of the network to better understand common problems and potential practical, research-based solutions. School systems that will be part of the AdvancED Research and Innovation Network are those that:
- want to get more out of their data without having to sacrifice their autonomy,
- want to try different approaches on a smaller scale before applying methods institutionally,
- are interested in understanding the connection between what happens in their schools and the outcomes for each student, not just what happens “on average” across hundreds of schools “like mine,” and
- most importantly, are interested in what they can learn about the interplay of their students, staff and community and how that unique combination impacts decisions to improve student outcomes in their system.
In addition, school systems that participate in the AdvancED Research and Innovation Network have opportunities to learn from each other about what is working and what is not. Instead of trying to implement a manual one-size-fits-all solution, they take into account the unique features of their situation to craft a customized, locally-driven solution that is continually evaluated and adjusted to meet an ever-changing environment.
What is the purpose of the AdvancED Research and Innovation Network?
While more data are being collected about schools and the schooling process, much of the time spent with those data focuses on compliance with state or federal reporting requirements as opposed to learning from them. In other cases, school systems may try to work with university-based researchers who use their schools’ data to answer important questions of practice but are beholden to researchers’ (or the researcher’s funders’) questions or activities they can or cannot do in their schools. While there are many important, large-scale research studies currently being conducted across the country, these projects often come with difficult conditions attached to them and, when the results are finally ready many years later, those results are no longer relevant to the participating schools because of changes in the political climate, changes in leadership in the school, or changes in the community served by a particular school or system.