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Title:  Establishing and sustaining networked improvement communities: Lessons from Michigan and Minnesota
Description: The purpose of this report is to share lessons learned by Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest researchers as they worked with educators in Michigan and Minnesota to establish and sustain two networked improvement communities (NICs). A NIC is a type of collaborative research partnership that uses principles of improvement science within networks to learn from variation across contexts. At the request of the Michigan Department of Education, REL Midwest worked with educators at the school, district, intermediate school district, and state levels to establish the Michigan Focus NIC, with the goal of reducing disparities in student achievement within schools. At the request of the Minnesota Department of Education, REL Midwest worked with educators at the state and regional levels to establish the Minnesota Statewide System of Support NIC. This NIC aimed to improve the supports that the Minnesota Department of Education provides to its six Regional Centers of Excellence, which implement school improvement strategies in the schools in the state with the lowest performance and largest achievement gaps. Although there is practical guidance for how NICs should structure their work, few published accounts describe the process of forming a NIC. Through its experience working with educators to form two NICs, REL Midwest learned that it is important to: build a cohesive team with members representing different types of expertise; reduce uncertainty by clarifying what participation would entail; build engagement by aligning work with ongoing efforts; use activities that are grounded in daily practice to narrow the problem of practice to one that is high leverage and actionable; and embed capacity building into NICs to build additional expertise for using continuous improvement research to address problems of practice. This report offers guidance to researchers and educators as they work to establish and sustain NICs. The lessons learned come from efforts to establish NICs in two specific contexts and therefore may not be generalizable to other contexts.
Online Availability:
Cover Date: April 2017
Web Release: April 4, 2017
Print Release: April 4, 2017
Publication #: REL 2017264
General Ordering Information
Center/Program: REL
Associated Centers: NCEE
Authors: Amy R. Proger, Monica P. Bhatt, Victoria Cirks, and Deb Gurke: American Institutes for Research
Type of Product: What's Happening
Keywords:
Questions: For questions about the content of this What's Happening, please contact:
Amy Johnson.