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Earlier this month, UR Associate Professor and Director of Educational Policy Kara Finnigan was awarded a $463,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation to examine relationships between leaders of Chicago school districts. Finnigan will explore how these relationships affect the work being done to improve the educational system.

The research will involve detailing the interactions between the leaders at school sites, central offices, and other tiers of the educational system. The researchers will focus on determining the extent to which information is shared between the administrative levels and staff and how that function serves to benefit the students within the system. In this way, the study will focus not only on the technical aspects of educational reformation, but also the relational aspect.

“We hope to answer critical questions about organizational learning and the way that resources, such as innovation, knowledge and research-based practices, are shared within a district,” Finnigan stated.

The Spencer Foundation was established in 1962 and allocates funds to “investigate ways in which education, broadly conceived, can be improved around the world,” according to the foundation’s web site.

The Spencer Foundation is a consistent source of funding for education research projects, dozens of which are published every year.

Finnigan has long been involved in efforts to improve the quality of public schools. In addition to this grant, she received a $560,000 grant last May from the William T. Grant Foundation to investigate how low-income schools in the San Diego Unified School District and the Rochester City School District used educational research to  improve the  quality of education for their students.

Smith is a member of the class of 2014.

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