Michigan’s Universities Partner with State to Launch Research and Data Center

Besides research, the data center will act as a clearinghouse for educational records provided to researchers.

by Martin Slagter, The Ann Arbor News / November 29, 2018

(TNS) - A new research collaboration and data center is coming to the University of Michigan.

The new Michigan Education Research Institute and Michigan Education Data Center is a joint project of UM, Michigan State University, the Michigan Department of Education and the Center for Educational Performance.

It will facilitate research projects in education and make data accessible in an effort to improve education for Michigan's students.

"Becoming a top 10 education state in 10 years takes a knowledge of what is happening in our schools now, learning what has proven successful and using that to develop better practices for all our educators and students," State Superintendent Sheila Alles said in a news release.

Along with addressing research questions, the Michigan Education Data Center, housed at UM's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, will build and act as a clearinghouse for educational records provided to researchers while maintaining the privacy rights of students.

Susan Dynarski, professor of economics, education and public policy at UM, said the data center will allow researchers to learn what works and what doesn't in the classroom.

"What we are doing is making (data) more friendly to researchers so that they can ask questions of the data that can help us improve education in the state," Dynarski said.

The creation of the centers formalizes a collaboration between UM, MSU and the state going back at least 80 years, Dynarski said. Some of the work that has already taken place includes requiring Michigan schools to administer the SAT to all students and making it free for students to take.

"(The analysis) was able to show that by requiring and providing for free this test, far more low-income students were taking the test, and many of them werescoring quite high," Dynarski said.

"...So when the legislature was talking about eliminating this requirement a few years back, MDE had this study on hand that showed what its benefits were," she added.

The Michigan Education Research Institute will be advised by a council of key stakeholders representing education leaders and policymakers from the state, region and nation.

One of the key early projects of the Michigan Education Research Institute is to conduct a multiyear implementation study of the state's Competency-Based Education pilot. The project will include surveys of principals, teachers and students and site visits at CBE schools.

Competency-based learning was one of the recommendations in Gov. Rick Snyder's 21st Century Education Report. According to the MDE, it is a personalized form of learning with more student-focused and customized instruction designed to help students master key skills and concepts.

©2018 The Ann Arbor News, Mich. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.