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Nashville Partnership for Educational Equity Research

The Nashville Partnership for Educational Equity Research (Nashville PEER) is a research-practice partnership between Metro Nashville Public Schools and Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College focused on the district's core commitment to identify and eliminate educational inequities. 


Why Engage in a Research-Practice Partnership?

Like many urban school districts across the United States, Nashville faces persistent inequities in student opportunities and outcomes. The challenges of eliminating these long-standing inequities are great. By joining forces to better understand these challenges and to co-design and implement solutions, we bring necessary time, attention, and resources toward eradicating educational inequities in Nashville.

What Do We Do?

Together, we co-design and pursue a research agenda focused on equity, addressing questions such as:

  • What school and community systems and resources are necessary to create equitable conditions for students to excel?
  • How do district policies and practices exacerbate or disrupt inequities in student opportunities and outcomes?
  • How can schools build learning opportunities to support all students?

In pursuit of our shared agenda, we enact full cycles of research, design, and implementation, with researchers and practitioners collaborating at every step. While seeking to better understand the challenges we face is a critical first step, this is only part of what it means to conduct high impact research. We also rigorously, creatively, and collaboratively put our recommendations into action, studying whether and how they work—and how effective solutions can be brought to scale across our diverse city.

How Do We Do this Work Together?

To better understand and address inequities in Nashville schools, researchers and educators come together through PEER as equal partners through. Through a joint Steering Committee and cross-institutional Working Groups, and incorporating the voices of students, teachers, families, and community members, researchers and educators work in partnership through every stage of the research cycle—including setting the agenda, framing problems of practice, designing and executing studies, interpreting findings, widely communicating results, and identifying action steps. We are mindful that educators and university partners do not always enter this work on equal footings, so we invest in building relationships, strengthening communication channels, and creating infrastructure to foster a deep, equal, and lasting partnership.

What Resources Do We Bring to this Work?

Metro Nashville Public Schools and Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College have a long history of cooperation. MNPS has a research department with experience conducting studies with external partners, a small team of trained researchers and evaluators, a wealth of data, and a deep bench of educators who are intimately familiar with the challenges of inequity in our city. MNPS administrators, staff, and teachers seek to leverage our diversity to create solutions to the inequities evident in our school system and city. At Peabody, one of the top education schools in the U.S., faculty and leadership are recognized for their cutting-edge research in educational policy and practice, including community-engaged, equity focused research. Peabody shares with MNPS both a deep commitment to addressing educational inequity and a conviction that our diversity of experience and perspective is a core strength. In a sign of our joint investment in this partnership, both institutions are committed to providing dedicated resources to build and grow this partnership.

What Will Change as a Result of our Work?

Ultimately, we will know this partnership is successful if partnership research results in changes to policies and/or practices to better serve students and eliminate educational inequities. In the short term, we aim to foster trusting relationships between researchers and practitioners, build researcher and practitioner capacity to collaborate on and learn from research, and develop partnership routines that high-impact research.

Interested in Learning More?

Read the press release about PEER's launch, and check out a recent panel hosted by PEER discussing what matters in partnership research, how RPPs challenge common assumptions and practices, and how this essential work can be supported.