The COVID-19 and Equity in Education Research–Practice Partnership Network

The COVID-19 and Equity in Education team identified eligible communities based on their service to a high percentage of Black and Latino students and/or students experiencing poverty, as well as their desire to improve educational equity and opportunity.

As part of the COVID-19 and Equity in Education RPP Network, communities are establishing diverse RPP teams that include educators, community members, and higher education research partners. The RPP teams will receive customized resources and coaching support for up to two years as they develop their RPPs, as well as regular opportunities to share and learn from other communities across the country. Through their community-based collaborative research, teams in the RPP network will generate important insights to drive educational improvement beyond the pandemic.

5 Principles of Research–Practice Partnerships in Education
  1. They are long-term collaborations.
  2. They work toward educational improvement or equitable transformation.
  3. They feature engagement with research as a leading activity.
  4. They are intentionally organized to bring together a diversity of expertise.
  5. They employ strategies to shift power relations in research endeavors to ensure that all participants have a say.

Current Research-Practice Partnerships

As the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic on students in the K–12 education system unfold and deeper understanding of systemic inequities are revealed, communities are looking inward to rethink how they serve students and redesign their education systems. This is particularly true in communities that were disproportionately ravaged by inadequate access to resources for remote learning, faced challenges related to consistent housing and access to food, and experienced higher levels of COVID-19 infection and deaths.

Now is the time to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and work together to confront systemic inequities and transform educational opportunities.

RPP Network members: Access our NEW asset maps for an engaging and data-driven way to explore demographic and social trends in your community.

The RPP Network. The RPP Network is a group of seven community-focused RPPs from four states—California, Florida, New York, and Washington—seeking to learn together and implement community-engaged research that deepens stakeholders’ understanding of needs and challenges. The Network aims to facilitate collaborative planning and purposeful implementation of strategies to address these needs.

    Current participating communities include the following:



    California icon

    Lindsay Unified School District (CA)

    The Lindsay Unified School District RPP’s community-based research examines the experience of students and families in the K–12 education system to guide the implementation of a regional two-generation poverty initiative. The initiative will be led by the school district and a rich ecosystem of local partners and guide efforts to build a more coherent system of support for students and their families.

    RPP Team Members

    • Linda Ledesma, Director of Healthy Start Family Resource Center
    • Laura Cortes, Director of Student & Community Services


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    Miami-Dade County Public Schools and University of Miami (FL)

    The Miami-Dade County Public Schools RPP is a collaboration between the Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the University of Miami (Florida). Their community-based research is exploring the impact of COVID-19 on teachers at a focal middle school serving a large number of students from historically marginalized groups.

    Focus groups are examining the teachers’ experiences during the pandemic and efforts to improve equity, inclusion, and engagement of students in school. Findings will be shared with principals across the Miami-Dade school district.

    RPP Team Members

    • Jennifer Andreu, Assistant Superintendent, Diversity & Equity Office of Economic Opportunity
    • LaKesha Wilson-Rochelle, Administrative Director, Office of Educational Equity, Access, and Diversity, University of Miami, Community & Educational Well-being Research Center
    • Jennifer Murray, Executive Director, Office of Educational Equity, Access, and Diversity, University of Miami, Community & Educational Well-being Research Center
    • Mary A. Avalos, Research Professor, Teaching & Learning
    • Wendy Cavendish, Professor, Teaching & Learning
    • Laura Kohn Wood, Dean, School of Education & Human Development
    • Maite Mena, Research Assistant Professor, Educational & Psychological Studies
    • Walter G. Secada, Professor, Teaching & Learning
    • Brittney Davis, Ph.D. Candidate

    New York

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    Black Liberation in Education, School, and Society (BLESS) Collective (New York)

    BLESS Research Collective RPP is a collaboration between the BLESS Research Collective and New York City Public Schools. Their community-based research explores the educational experiences of Black youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, BLESS is exploring the experiences of Black Multilingual students who have engaged in Black Liberatory Practices throughout the pandemic.

    RPP Team Members

    • Dr. Gwendolyn Baxley, University of Buffalo
    • Dr. Ja’Dell Davis, Wisconsin Center for Education Research
    • Dr. Jacqueline M. Forbes, Dickinson College
    • Christian Kochon, New York City Department of Education, Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
    • Dr. Nicholas Mitchell, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    • Dr. Gloria Rosario Wallace, New York City Department of Education, Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

    Chatham Central School District, NYKids (New York)

    The Chatham Central School District RPP is a collaboration between the Chatham Central School District School District and NYKids at the University at Albany–State University of New York (SUNY). Their community-based research examines district and school culture and climate to advance conditions for strengthening educational equity.

    RPP Team Members

    • Lisa Cala-Ruud, Administrator of Educational Services, Chatham Central School District
    • Kristen C. Wilcox, R&D Director, NYKids, and Associate Professor, Educational Policy and Leadership, the University at Albany–SUNY 

    Tech Valley High School, NYKids (New York)

    The Tech Valley High School RPP is a collaboration between Tech Valley High, Chatham Central School District, and NYKids at the University at Albany–SUNY. In addition to identifying a shared problem of practice with Chatham Central School District, their community-based research investigates why their attrition rate is higher for students of color.

    Tech Valley High School will use their connection with business partners that can help with mentoring students, along with their ITerm career exploration program that helps examine the intersection of equity and the STEM field to accomplish this goal.

    RPP Team Members

    • Amy Hawrylchak, Principal, Tech Valley High School
    • Kristen C. Wilcox, R&D Director, NYKids, and Associate Professor, Educational Policy and Leadership, the University at Albany–SUNY

    Fallsburg Central School District (New York)

    The Fallsburg Central School District is leading the Fallsburg, New York, RPP. Their community-based research investigates how to increase the number of students who enroll in higher education institutions by increasing community engagement, understanding the supports that school counselors provide, and encouraging students to participate in postsecondary planning.

    This districtwide project supports efforts by analyzing the school, family, and community resources available to support students in grades 7–12 as they develop post-graduation plans. Fallsburg Central School District will use its relationships with community members in its efforts to accomplish these goals.

    RPP Team Members

    • Dr. Sally Sharkey, Assistant Superintendent, Fallsburg Central School District
    • Dr. Aleta Lymon, Family and Community Liaison, Fallsburg Central School District
    • Jesus Galvan, English as a New Language Teacher, Fallsburg Central School District
    • Aileen Gunther, Assemblywoman, New York State Assembly (tentative)
    • Dillon Paul, English as a New Language Teacher & Content Area Coordinator, Fallsburg Central School District
    • Anthony Cordero Flores, Bilingual Mathematics Teacher, Fallsburg Central School District


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    Community Center for Education Results: Road Map Project (Washington)

    The Community Center for Education Results (CCER): Road Map Project RPP is a collaboration between the CCER and districts in South King County and across Washington State. Currently, their community-based research focuses on understanding the racialized impacts of virtual learning on Black educators, families, and students, especially those who have chosen to stay in remote schooling rather than return in-person.

    The Road Map Project will use its strong relationships with community leaders and community-based organizations to develop a research plan to accomplish this goal.

    RPP Team Members

    • Carlina Brown-Banks, Sr. Director of Community Engagement
    • Fa’izah Bradford, Sr. Director of Strategy for Racial Impact
    • Natasha Rosenblatt, Data Strategy Director
    • Kirstin McCowan, Director of Research Partnerships
    • Danika Martinez, Opportunity Youth Strategist