Message from James Kemple
In October 2007, the Research Alliance for New York City Schools was an ambitious idea—a vision for how researchers, policymakers, and educators could come together to develop “better evidence for better schools.” We began with two staff members and four vacant offices at NYU, but no data, research projects, or formal partnerships to speak of.
Today, the Research Alliance has grown into a major hub for education research in NYC. Our data use agreement with the NYC Department of Education (DOE) has allowed us to build one of the largest and most comprehensive education databases in the country. Our full-time staff has grown exponentially, and we host a dynamic group of fellows and interns. We have undertaken more than 20 major research projects, with an array of partners, and have shared our findings through numerous conferences, presentations and published reports. Our Steering Committee reflects a wide range of NYC’s education stakeholders, including the NYC DOE, the teacher and administrator unions, and business and community groups.
Thanks to the engagement of these diverse players—and the support of a variety of public and private funders—the Research Alliance has been able to carve out a unique and important role in NYC. Our work has produced valuable insights about:
- Overall system trends, including areas of progress as well as persistent disparities;
- Strategies to help keep individual students on track for success, and to improve entire schools; and
- Efforts to move beyond test scores toward more meaningful and more actionable measures of student and school performance.
More broadly, the Research Alliance is working to promote the use of data and evidence in decisions made at both the school and district level. And we are collaborating with other research-practice partnerships around the country to share lessons emerging in different contexts and to ensure that newer partnerships benefit from our experience.
We are proud of what the Research Alliance has accomplished to date, but we are also well aware of the work that lies ahead. We are actively developing new areas of research and forging new partnerships, including efforts to more directly inform the work of schools. We continue seeking and training staff who share our commitment to policy- and practice-oriented research, as well as new strategies for making our work engaging, accessible and meaningful.
Thank you for your interest in the Research Alliance. We always welcome questions, feedback and ideas for new research, so please feel free to contact us.
James J. Kemple