Collaboration supports education research among U-M, MSU, state of Michigan


The launch of a new research collaboration and a data center at the University of Michigan marks the start of a unique collaboration among 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 the 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.

“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 nation.

“This collaboration will empower and equip our leaders with the research they need in order to make evidence-based decisions that advance just and equitable learning opportunities, assessments and educational systems for all children in Michigan,” said Elizabeth Birr Moje, dean of the School of Education.

The key partners in the research consortium are:

• MSU College of Education’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative

• Ford School of Public Policy Education Policy Initiative’s Michigan Education Data Center

• School of Education

• Michigan Department of Education

• Center for Educational Performance and Information

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 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.

“I’m excited about the capacity MERI will have to answer questions about the intended and unintended effects of education policies and practices,” said Robert Floden, dean of the MSU College of Education. “Important policy areas include charters and choice, assessment of a range of student outcomes, and the preparation and employment of teachers and school leaders.”

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.

“Our faculty 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,” said Michael Barr, dean of the Ford School.

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


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