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Warner Professor Takes Research to Policymakers on Capitol Hill

District Reform Under High-Stakes Accountability was the Focus of Policy Forum in Feb.
Kara Finnigan
Associate Professor Kara Finnigan from the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education appeared last week in Washington, D.C. to discuss the challenges facing low-performing schools and districts.

The Feb. 4 forum on Capitol Hill, sponsored by the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), showcased the five-year study, funded by the WT Grant Foundation, which she leads as principal investigator. More than 100 individuals from national education and youth organizations, advocacy groups, think tanks, higher education organizations, federal agencies, and congressional offices attended the forum, titled “Districts’ Use of Research to Support Struggling Schools.”

Joined by her colleague Alan Daly of the University of California at San Diego, Finnigan helped participants understand how educators define, acquire and use different types of evidence as part of their improvement processes and the ways in which the underlying network of relationships district-wide impacts improvement. The panel, which also included Superintendent Joshua Starr of Montgomery County Public Schools, and Ron Rode, the executive director of accountability in San Diego Unified School District, provided important insights into the gap between policy and practice and the ways to develop stronger learning communities and research partnerships at all levels of the educational system.

This forum was part of a series of Capitol Hill forums, geared toward national education and youth organizations, advocates, think tanks, researchers, program providers, and national policymakers, which challenge participants to think differently about how research informs policy and practice. AYPF, a non-profit professional development organization based in Washington, D.C., is hosting this series of forums to challenge participants to think differently about how research informs policy and practice. AYPF provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels.
Finnigan, who directs the educational policy programs at the Warner School, has conducted research and evaluations of K-12 educational policies and programs at the local, state, and federal levels for nearly 20 years through her work at several prominent research organizations, including SRI International, RPP International, the George Lucas Educational Foundation, and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Finnigan has written extensively on the topics of low-performing schools, high-stakes accountability, and school choice, including charter schools and interdistrict choice. In addition to the William T. Grant Foundation, her work has garnered grants from prominent organizations, including the Ford Foundation and the Spencer Foundation, supporting educational research.
To learn more about Finnigan’s study, click here or visit: www.warner.rochester.edu/newsevents/story/967/. To read a Learning First Alliance blog post about the Feb. 4 forum, or visit: www.learningfirst.org/collaboration-implementing-research-depends-strong-networks.

About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education offers master’s and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, educational policy, counseling, human development, and health professions education. The Warner School of Education offers a new accelerated option for its EdD programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform. 
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Media Contact: Theresa Danylak
585.275.0777; 585.278.6273 (cell)

Tags: education policy, educational leadership, Kara Finnigan, research