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Warner Hosts National Research Conference on School District Reform

At a time when there has been a growing national push for higher levels of student performance and accountability in school districts, 21 researchers from across the globe will convene in Rochester, N.Y. this week for an intensive meeting on Nov. 2 through 4. The invited meeting is intended to foster dialogue across research areas and produce knowledge of the highest quality about education and learning.
A $30,000 American Educational Research Association (AERA) research conference grant will fund the meeting, themed “Thinking Systematically: Improving Districts Under Pressure,” and it will be hosted by the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego. The grant was one of seven awarded as part of AERA’s three-year research conference initiative. 
By focusing on issues related to school district improvement under pressure, the conference will identify, synthesize, and disseminate district-level approaches and innovative research strategies to help improve the educational outcomes of students. The conference also will highlight practices that have been demonstrated by research as being more effective for districts and will identify the most pressing areas for research-based inquiry into district reform.Kara Finnigan
Conference organizers include Kara Finnigan, an associate professor who directs the educational policy program at the Warner School and Alan Daly, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego.
Finnigan says that little is known about how to successfully bring about school improvement for persistently low-performing schools and even less is known about how to do this for school districts.
“The conference is particularly timely, as it follows awards made under the federal Race to the Top competition,” Finnigan explains. “States awarded funding are required to find effective strategies to work with school districts to improve student performance. The dissemination of high-quality research around district reform under sanction will provide much needed empirical, theoretical, and practical information as everyone ‘races’ to improve.”
The dissemination of research around district reform that will evolve from the international meeting will include the organization of conference papers that will be widely disseminated to researchers, practitioners, and policymakers.
AERA conference participants include:
  • Stephen Anderson, PhD, University of Toronto
  • Alan J. Daly, PhD, University of California, San Diego
  • Kara Finnigan, PhD, University of Rochester's Warner School
  • William A. Firestone, PhD, Rutgers Graduate School of Education
  • Betheny Gross, PhD, University of Washington
  • Laura Hamilton, PhD, RAND Corporation; University of Pittsburgh
  • Julie Reed Kochanek, PhD, Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Islands, EDC
  • Kerstin Carlson Le Floch, PhD, American Institutes for Research
  • Betty Malen, PhD, University of Maryland
  • Julie Marsh, PhD, University of Southern California
  • Michelle Palermo-Biggs, PhD candidate, University of Rochester's Warner School
  • Bill Penuel, PhD, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Joelle Rodway Macri, PhD candidate, University of Toronto
  • Andrea Rorrer, PhD, University of Utah
  • Georgia Sang-Baffoe, PhD candidate, University of Rochester's Warner School
  • Karen Seashore Louis, PhD, University of Minnesota
  • Mark Smylie, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Louise Stoll, PhD, University of London
  • Jonathan Supovitz, EdD, University of Pennsylvania
  • Tina Trujillo, PhD, University of California, Berkeley
  • Priscilla Wohlstetter, PhD, University of Southern California
  • Kenneth Wong, PhD, Brown University
AERA conference participants

For more information about the conference, please contact Kara Finnigan at (585) 275-9942 or by e-mail at kfinnigan@warner.rochester.edu.

Media Contact: Theresa Danylak
585.275.0777; 585.278.6273 (cell)


Tags: American Educational Research Association (AERA), educational policy, educational policy and theory, Kara Finnigan, research