Each student will serve a semester long Research-to-Practice Internship designed to obtain competencies in translational research. Typically, this will occur in the student’s 3rd year in the program. The internship will be an exceptional learning experience for students in the interdisciplinary training program, supporting their development as independent researchers engaged in answering questions about “what works” in education. Most internship opportunities are provided through campus-based projects directed by ITP faculty. In addition, we have developed partnerships with regional educational laboratories, state and local education agencies, and applied policy-research firms that provide direct work with practitioners, or policy work at a regional or federal level. Several of these options are listed below.
Mathematica Policy Research. UW-ITP has entered into a partnership with Mathematica Policy Research, one of the nation’s leaders in randomized controlled trials in K–12 education. To fulfill the internship, students will spend an entire semester at Mathematica’s Washington, DC, Cambridge or Princeton offices. Recent studies have included research on Early Head Start, after-school programs, school choice, Teach for America, Upward Bound, and career-focused education programs. Concurrent research in the areas of postsecondary education, workforce training, health, and welfare may also offer internship experiences. With such a broad array of studies, Mathematica can accommodate several interns each year.
Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education (CDDRE). CDDRE is a new $10 million, 5-year IES center on low-performing schools. It will conduct a large-scale randomized controlled study of the effects of state, district, school, and classroom strategies that use student performance data to direct reform efforts. CDDRE will focus on low-achieving elementary and middle schools, especially those failing to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals under NCLB. UW-ITP faculty member Geoffrey Borman is the lead methodologist for the study. Supervised by Borman, UW-ITP students will serve internships of several months and work on the design, implementation, and analysis of the CDDRE program of research. CDDRE director Robert Slavin also offers internship opportunities for our students in two complementary large-scale randomized trials (for which Borman is also the lead methodologist) in addition to CDDRE’s study of data-based decision-making.
Large urban school districts. Three urban school districts have pledged to provide research opportunities for our students and their faculty mentors: Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis, MN; and Cleveland, OH. These districts are already working in close consultation with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, and their research directors have expressed great need for talented students trained in quantitative methods to work with their large databases. UW-ITP students will be placed as interns with these projects only when there is an opportunity to engage in a randomized controlled trial.
Other randomized controlled trials conducted by program faculty. Several members of the training program faculty are engaged in or have proposed research involving randomized controlled trials. These studies may also provide internship experiences for students in the interdisciplinary training program.