Leaders from the Minneapolis Public Schools and the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development are teaming up to research and evaluate solutions for school challenges.

The three-year partnership is aimed at aligning the college's research with the district's goals of addressing issues surrounding literacy, math, school climate, and teacher recruitment and retention. Researchers will share evidence-based ideas with district leaders and Minneapolis educators will in turn help inform new areas of research based on their own experiences.

"We are very fortunate to have one of the top universities in the U.S. literally miles away," Eric Moore, the accountability, research and equity officer for Minneapolis Public Schools, said at a recent school board meeting. Until now, the district hadn't been deliberate in weighing in on what types of research were needed, Moore said.

Michael Rodriguez, the dean of the education college, said in a statement that research is most effective when it affects the work in the community and the classroom.

"Through this research-practice partnership with MPS, we can coordinate efforts, learn from each other, and maximize our impact to support student success," he said.

The Minneapolis Foundation gave $50,000 to support the partnership. Foundation President and CEO R.T. Rybak said in a statement that he hopes the collaboration represents a move "beyond talk and paves the way for tangible changes" for students.

Minneapolis Public Schools has for years seen achievement gaps in literacy and math between white students and students of color. The district has also worked to identify better solutions to recruit and retain teachers of color and ensure schools are welcoming places for all students, families and staff — goals that are outlined in the new strategic plan.

Though the district has seen "pockets of success," around such issues, having outside research will allow for a broader look at the whole district and create time for reflection on what's working and what's not, Moore said.

"They want to support us," he said. "We have problems and challenges that we've identified, and they're ready to lean in."

The partnership kicked off this month with a series of roundtable discussions on literacy and math.

Mara Klecker • 612-673-4440