Examining the Research-Practice Collaborative Model as a Framework for Bolstering Implementation Fidelity of Educational Policy Initiatives: A Case Study of the North Carolina Early Learning Inventory

Doctoral Candidate Name: 
Kristin M. Villanueva
Educational Leadership

The expectation for educators to engage in evidence-based decision-making has become standard protocol in public education, yet translating research into effective practice can often be mired with implementation challenges. Research-practice partnerships (RPP) support research-informed practice by engaging key stakeholders to address real and contextual problems encountered by K-12 educators. This qualitative critical realist case study investigated the inner workings and attributes of a teacher-centric RPP formed to address ongoing implementation challenges with the North Carolina Early Learning Inventory. Data sources included observations of RPP meetings, teacher interviews, communications, and analysis of artifacts. Thematic findings suggest that teacher-centric RPP models strengthen trust and credibility between educational agencies through a series of preconditions: Expanding access, diversifying perspectives, developing alliances, and deepening knowledge. This resulted in increased implementation practices and enhanced the production of usable information to address implementation fidelity. Simultaneously, this framework also heightened teachers’ sense of professional identity. This study contributes to a dearth of literature on applying RPP models to support evidence-based policy mandates and offers a new model for leveraging classroom practitioners. This investigation contributes to the field of evaluation by providing a sustainable model to maintain implementation fidelity and strengthen teachers’ perceptions of their professional identity and agency.

Defense Date and Time: 
Thursday, December 14, 2023 - 10:30am
Defense Location: 
CATO College of Education: Mebane Hall - Room 259
Committee Chair's Name: 
Dr. Richard G. Lambert
Committee Members: 
Jae Hoon Lim, Carl Westine, Drew Polly, and Heather Taylor