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Executive Director's Note: September 2023

As I begin my tenure as Executive Director of the Research Alliance, I have been reflecting on our accomplishments, and imagining where we want to be in the future. As part of this process, I have had useful conversations with our staff, partners, and various stakeholders, focused on two key questions:

  1. How can we continue to enhance the Research Alliance’s impact?
  2. How should we adapt our approaches to meet the evolving needs of New York City’s education ecosystem? 

Through these conversations, we have identified two overarching priorities for our work: Improving evidence use and centering equity in our research. 

These priorities are informed and inspired by recent contributions from the WT Grant Foundation, the National Network of Education Research-Practice PartnershipsChicago and Beyond, the Center for Reinventing Public Education, and Child Trends. These and other organizations have highlighted the importance of evidence utilization, equity, and community engagement in driving meaningful change in education systems. While these have always been core values of the Research Alliance and are integral to our theory of change, we believe now is the time to elevate them in our daily routines and practices.  

New York City’s education system faces multifaceted, complex challenges. These include the need to address the mental health and wellbeing of students and educators; covid-related learning losses; longstanding gaps in educational opportunities and outcomes linked to racial, economic and other structural inequality; the recent influx of migrant families and asylum seekers; and long delays in providing special education services to students who need them, to name just a few. These challenges are significant and underscore the urgency of our mission to provide independent, nonpartisan evidence about policies and practices that promote students' development and academic success. By focusing on evidence use and centering equity, we hope to chart a course toward a better, more equitable education landscape. 

As we begin the school year, I am inspired by the collective energy and dedication of our staff, partners, and stakeholders to address these challenges by leveraging research-backed insights to inform policy and practice. In future posts, I will share more details about how the Research Alliance will center equity and enhance evidence use in NYC’s education system. In the meantime, we eagerly invite your input about the research questions that are most important for us to pursue. Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to advancing excellence and equity for NYC students and schools!



Cheri Fancsali