With increasingly tight budgets, many public school districts lack research personnel to evaluate program efficacy or investigate best practices that raise student achievement. We highlight an example of a successful university-district partnership that offers district-driven research support while providing opportunities for practitioner-scholars to learn first-hand how to perform rigorous evaluation work. This article details the Early Kindergarten Transition program evaluation study conducted by a university-district partnership as well as testimony from district leadership on the utility of the research deliverables and long-term benefits of the research collaboration.

Key Take Away Points

  1. Students who participated in an Early Kindergarten Transition (EKT) summer program had long-term positive impacts including, higher attendance rates, higher literacy fluency scores, and were more likely to meet literacy benchmarks.
  2. Study findings informed a publicly accessibly research brief for interested parents and community members.
  3. This project highlights how university-district partnerships can provide rigorous and timely research deliverables for public school district partners

Author Biography

Dr. Beth Tarasawa is a Manager for Education Research Partnerships at Northwest Evaluation Association where she collaborates with universities, foundations, and school districts to produce rigorous and accessible educational policy research. Her research focuses on issues related to educational equity, particularly those concerning social class, race, and linguistic diversity. She received her Ph.D. in the Sociology of Education at Emory University. Dr. Nicole Ralston is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Measurement, Statistics, and Research Design from the University of Washington. An elementary school teacher at heart, she now teaches educational research and assessment courses to undergraduate and graduate students; researches in the areas of diagnostic assessment, algebraic thinking, and teacher coaching models; and co-directs the Multnomah County Partnership for Education Research. Dr. Jacqueline Waggoner is a tenured Professor in the School of Education at the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon. She received her bi-university Ed.D. from the University of Oregon and Portland State University in Public School Administration and Supervision and has worked in higher education and public P-12 education for over 25 years. Her research areas are teacher education, measurement, instrumentation; assessment; and data-driven decision making.