MSUToday
Published: Nov. 27, 2018

MSU joins research partnership to improve Michigan schools

Contact(s): Nicole Geary Education office: (517) 355-1826 ngeary@msu.edu, Katharine Strunk Education office: (517) 884-6289 kstrunk@msu.edu, Joshua Cowen Education cell: (859) 351-8898 jcowen@msu.edu

Michigan State University is part of a new research partnership designed to improve K-12 public schools statewide. 

Announced today, the Michigan Education Research Institute, or MERI, is a collaboration between MSU, University of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Education and the Center for Educational Performance and Information — the state agency responsible for reporting education data. 

The partnership will facilitate research projects in education, make data accessible and improve education for Michigan’s students. 

“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 partnership gives policy leaders a chance to collaborate with top national experts. Leading the research for MSU are Joshua Cowen and Katharine Strunk, faculty co-leaders of the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative, or EPIC. 

“We are thrilled to have entered a close research-policymaker partnership with MDE and CEPI,” said Strunk, Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Education. “Through our work, we hope to tackle some of the most pressing questions surfaced by state and local education policymakers and improve education access and outcomes for Michigan students.” 

A council of key stakeholders, representing education leaders and policymakers from the state, region and nation, will advise the state agencies in setting the research agenda that will be informed by MERI’s work. 

“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 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.”

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

Along with addressing research questions, Susan Dynarski and Brian Jacob of the U-M Education Policy Initiative will build and oversee a data center that will securely house educational records used in the research.

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

Katharine Strunk and Joshua Cowen are co-directors of MSU's Education Policy Innovation Collaborative. Photo courtesy of Michigan State University College of Education.

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