The use of research and data in decision making has become a popular mantra in education circles, but putting it into practice presents some real challenges. Often, educators and policymakers may not have the time or skills to identify, access, analyze, and apply data, or the capacity to use analysis to inform policies, programs, and resource allocation decisions. In addition, they may find that the available research evidence doesn’t specifically address their problems, fails to relate to their specific context, or isn’t presented in user-friendly language. A popular and growing approach to overcoming these challenges is the creation of research alliances or partnerships between educators and researchers designed to promote data and evidence use.
Education Northwest is collaborating with eight research alliances across the Northwest as part of its Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest work. This Lessons Learned captures lessons from from our experience working with these groups, survey feedback from alliance members, and observations from a national forum that REL Northwest held in Portland in April 2013.