Research-practice partnerships (RPPs) at their very core are intentional, formalized joint efforts between agencies that primarily administer education (such as state education agencies, local education agencies, or schools) and those that primarily research education (such as public and private universities, research institutions, or community groups that conduct research) to impact decision making in education through the use of research evidence. While some research-practice collaborations may be formed around particular projects, we reserve the term “partnership” for those efforts that are ongoing and meant to be long-term. A distinguishing feature of partnership work is the purposeful integration of expertise from two often disconnected industries: practice and research in education. Some in the literature have further characterized this relationship as “mutually beneficial,” highlighting the complementary nature this type of work affords the two parties involved.


“Research-Practice Partnerships: A Strategy for Leveraging Research for Educational Improvement in School Districts”

Authors: Cynthia E. Coburn, William R. Penuel, and Kimberly E. Geil

Year: 2013

This white paper prepared for the William T. Grant Foundation presents a definition of research-practice partnerships, identifies three types of district-level partnerships, and describes strategies to address challenges in this emerging area of work.

“A university and district partnership closes the research-to-classroom gap”

Authors: Laura Wentworth, Richard Carranza, and Deborah Stipek

Year: 2016

This article published in the Phi Delta Kappan shares lessons from a decade-long partnership between the Stanford Graduate School of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District, demonstrating how research-practice partnerships work.

“Moving from Data to Research to Policy: What Does it Take?”

Authors: Kim DuMont and Timothy M. Smeeding

Year: 2016

This essay published in the William T. Grant Foundation Digest discusses how researchers and practitioners can work together to improve the use of research evidence, mentioning partnerships as one valuable strategy to do so. It is the second part of an essay entitled “From Big Data to Useful Research Evidence: Forging a Path Toward Better Youth Outcomes” and starts on page 4 of the document.