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TC to Work with New Research Alliance to Study Improvement in City Schools


Aaron Pallas

Aaron Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education.

Aaron Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education, to Coordinate Survey of Middle School Teacher Attrition 

Teachers College will work with the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, a newly announced non-partisan applied research center that, working independently of city government and the Department of Education, will focus on advancing school improvement in New York.

Based at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, the Research Alliance will use recent advances in education science and draw on the expertise of the city’s and the nation’s top researchers to provide independent analysis about the challenges of providing a high-quality education for all students and about the effectiveness of promising strategies aimed at addressing those challenges.

The Alliance’s Executive Director is James Kemple, who formerly served as director of K-12 Education Policy at MDRC, a national social policy research organization based in New York City. Kemple is a former high school math teacher and program director for a community-based education organization in Washington, DC

The Alliance will contribute to scholarly research that is relevant to both policy and practice on issues ranging from student achievement and preparation for higher education and the workforce to instructional practice and administrative decision making and the deployment of fiscal resources. 

The Alliance’s efforts also will include an examination of teacher attrition in middle schools. TC’s Aaron Pallas, Professor of Sociology and Education, will serve as survey coordinator on that project.

In addition to Teachers College, other institutions that will work with the Research Alliance include NYU’s Faculty of Arts and Science, the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and the City University of New York, as well as other research universities nationwide. The Alliance’s work will initially be funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation.  

New York City public schools Chancellor Joel Klein has promised the new center access to the Department of Education’s rich databases on student, personnel, and school characteristics and performance, and pledged that the DOE will collaborate on evaluations of initiatives aimed at improving the city’s schools.   

Efforts to create a research alliance in New York City had been a goal of education researchers and advocates for many years. The movement to create the Research Alliance began in earnest with a 2005 proposal from researchers in New York City organized by the Social Science Research Council to create a non-partisan research consortium to support assessment and improvement in New York City Schools. This was coordinated by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) which incubated the Research Alliance project. Chancellor Klein endorsed this proposal in 2006.

The Consortium on Chicago School Research, a dedicated research center housed at the University of Chicago, was a model for the development of the Alliance.

The Alliance’s Governance Board, representing various constituencies with an interest in improving school performance, includes William Bowen, president emeritus of Princeton Universityand the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition; Robert Hughes, president of New Visions; Chancellor Klein; David McLaughlin, provost of New York University; Randi Weingarten, President of the United Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers; and Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. The Governance Board, currently in the process of expanding membership to include representation from community members and researchers, will oversee the Research Alliance’s research agenda, as well as its operations and budget.

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