University of Michigan, MSU, state of Michigan launch new research collaboration

Unique partnership aims to improve education for students in Michigan

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

Photo: Pexels

ANN ARBOR - A new data center and research facility at University of Michigan marks the start of a unique research collaboration between U-M, Michigan State University, the Michigan Department of Education and the Center for Educational Performance and Information.

The new Michigan Education Data Center and Michigan Education Research Institute will facilitate joint research projects and make data available with the goal of improving education for students in Michigan.

"The Michigan Department of Education is excited to see this formal research partnership established between the state and the two university partners," interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles said in a statement. "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."

The Michigan Education Data Center is housed at U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and plans to address research questions and "will build and act as a clearinghouse for educational records provided to researchers while maintaining the privacy rights of students."

The center's directors say the new data center will uphold U-M's standards of securely hosting data sets.

"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," Susan Dynarski, professor of economics, education and public policy, said in a statement.

A council of key stakeholders representing local, regional and national policymakers and education leaders will advise the Michigan Education Research Institute.

"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," Elizabeth Birr Moje, dean of the U-M School of Education, said in a statement.

According to U-M, the key partners in the research consortium are:

  • MSU College of Education's Education Policy Innovation Collaborative
  • U-M Ford School of Public Policy Education Policy Initiative's Michigan Education Data Center
  • U-M School of Education
  • Michigan Department of Education
  • Center for Educational Performance and Information

An early project of the Michigan Education Research Institute will conduct a multiyear study of the state of Michigan's Competency-Based Education pilot. Principals, teachers and students will be surveyed as part of the project and researchers will visit CBE schools.

The researchers hope their findings will help the Michigan Department of Education to best meet the needs of schools and districts that are adopting competency-based models.

"I'm excited about the capacity MERI will have to answer questions about the intended and unintended effects of education policies and practices," Robert Floden, dean of the MSU College of Education, said in a statement. "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 allows policy leaders to collaborate with nationally renowned experts in policy analysis, school organization and educator preparation.

"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," Michael Barr, dean of the Ford School of Public Policy, said in a statement.

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