The premise of this chapter is that RPPs are essential supports for implementing federal policies like ESSA as a foundation for a new infrastructure for relating research and practice. Traditional research and development imagines a one-way path from research to practice. Partnerships are a two-way endeavor, in which practice informs the questions researchers ask, making research more relevant. In partnerships, researchers and educators work together to search for and test solutions to practice, blending ideas and evidence from research with the wisdom of practice. Partnerships are an infrastructure for turning the insight that reform is a social process into a systematic design for collaborative improvement that leverages the expertise and passion of both researchers and educators.
In this chapter, Penuel and Farrell argue that research-practice partnerships (RPPs) that include educators from schools, districts, and out-of-school organizations are positioned to play an important role in supporting educators to incorporate evidence in reform efforts. Using ESSA as a context, the authors lay out four roles partnerships may play in supporting the provisions of ESSA regarding the use of evidence, and conclude with a set of questions for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers that can increase the field’s capacity to engage in successful partnership work.