New collaboration supports education research between U-M, MSU and state of Michigan

November 28, 2018

The launch of a new research collaboration and a data center at the University of Michigan marks the start of a unique collaboration between U-M, Michigan State University, the Michigan Department of Education and the Center for Educational Performance and Information.

The new Michigan Education Research Institute and Michigan Education Data Center will facilitate research projects in education, make data accessible and improve education for Michigan’s students.

“The Michigan Department of Education is excited to see this formal research partnership established between the state and the two university partners,” said interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles. “Becoming a top 10 education state in 10 years takes a knowledge of what is happening in our schools now, learning what has proven successful and using that to develop better practices for all our educators and students.”

Along with addressing research questions, the Michigan Education Data Center, housed at U-M’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, will build and act as a clearinghouse for educational records provided to researchers while maintaining the privacy rights of students. U-M has extensive experience in securely hosting both local and national datasets, and the new data center will carry that tradition forward, say the center’s directors.

“This partnership brings together researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to solve pressing questions affecting our state’s children,” said Michael S. Barr, Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. “Committed to harnessing data to improve outcomes, the Ford School is uniquely positioned to collect and distribute data to researchers. As co-directors of the Education Policy Initiative, Susan Dynarski and Brian Jacob have proven their commitment to applying research to solve education policy challenges, and through MERI will be able to make a big contribution to helping Michigan's young people.”

One of the key early projects of the Michigan Education Research Institute is to conduct a multiyear implementation study of the state’s Competency-Based Education pilot. The project will include surveys of principals, teachers and students, and site visits at CBE schools.

The researchers hope that the results from the study will help the Michigan Department of Education understand how to best meet the needs of schools and districts that are transitioning to competency-based models and also to understand successes and obstacles in their unique contexts.

“While ensuring privacy and confidentiality of students’ data, we will be able to learn what works and what doesn’t so our educators can provide the best education for Michigan’s students,” said Susan Dynarski, professor of economics, education and public policy.

The Michigan Education Research Institute will be advised by a council of key stakeholders representing education leaders and policymakers from the state, region and nationally.

The key partners in the research consortium are:

The collaboration among MSU, U-M and the state of Michigan gives policy leaders a chance to collaborate with top national experts in policy analysis, educator preparation and school organization.

This collaboration is funded in large part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

Adapted from a news release by Mandira Banerjee | Originally published by Michigan News, November 27, 2018, which can be viewed here.