OUSD and UCB Research Practice Partnership

CCASN has worked closely with the leadership of the Graduate School of Education (GSE) at Berkeley to forge a formal Research Practice Partnership (RPP) between Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), and five academic and research units at UC Berkeley – Education, Public Health, Public Policy, Psychology, and Social Welfare. In its second year, faculty representatives and OUSD leaders on an Advisory Board-cum-Leadership Team have agreed to engage as practitioners and researchers in reflective mutual learning practices while deploying innovations to create equity of opportunity and learning among OUSD students and educators.

The vision

OUSD and UC Berkeley will cultivate a collaborative and reciprocal relationship seeking to learn together and to generate, transform, and use knowledge together, so that equity of opportunity and learning will exist among and for OUSD students, teachers and leaders.

As they pursue that vision, they have defined common goals and priorities, and begun bringing researchers and practitioners together as complementary equal partners in the effort to codesign systemic interventions, practices, policies, solutions, and innovations. They have generated a number of authentic, relevant, timely, and rigorous research projects thus far; and are working to initiate deeper collaborations particularly around two high priorities: Early Childhood Education and Teacher Recruitment and Retention. District teams working on those priority program areas presented to the Advisory Board to deepen understandings about the roots of their specific equity problems of practice. UC Berkeley faculty have been meeting with OUSD staff to develop research-based approaches to identifying potential changes in institutional practice to impact equity goals.

As happened everywhere, the twin crises of the pandemic and racialized social unrest forced urgent demands upon OUSD. In the midst of this turbulent period, they nevertheless identified a critical question around which to focus their collaboration: What might transformational public education look like for our current and emerging world? They continued to carve out time to collaborate and to develop potential innovative explorations of their equity-based problems of practice, and to define and test interventions.

Research Practice Partnerships are challenging long-term commitments. A learner-centered education system that leads to equitable educational outcomes for all students, particularly those furthest from opportunity, requires a substantial transformation of district, school site, and classroom practices. Academic and research units at universities rarely integrate their assets, talents and efforts to collaboratively support or partner with a school district. Yet this innovative collaborative approach to transforming practices in both institutions has risen to the challenge, with a collective commitment to serving learning communities furthest from opportunities.

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