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Building connections to support career readiness

Building connections to support career readiness

By Cora Goldston
September 21, 2018

Preparing students for careers requires collaboration from a variety of partners. State education staff, district administrators, principals, guidance counselors, teachers, higher education administrators, and representatives of nonprofit organizations all play key roles in student success. Making connections across these groups encourages all voices to be heard, supported, and included in coordinated efforts.

Dominique Bradley is the new partnership facilitator for the Midwest Career Readiness Research Alliance (MCRRA). In this role, she is working to build connections between alliance members from different organizations. Bradley is also the project manager for the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest’s Iowa Learning and Technology Networked Improvement Community.

Bradley’s professional experience uniquely positions her to support REL Midwest partners. Previously, she was a research assistant for the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UWM). She also managed projects for several other organizations, including the Madison Education Partnership between UWM and the Madison Metropolitan School District. Bradley also brings to the REL classroom experience from her days teaching at an alternative high school.

Her experience as both a researcher and a practitioner enables Bradley to understand the unique challenges of research-practice partnerships like MCRRA and REL Midwest’s other alliances. “The translation of information needs to go both ways,” says Bradley. “Researchers learn from practitioners just as practitioners learn from researchers. In addition, researchers need to recognize that educators have a variety of needs. A practitioner’s understanding of their world depends a lot on who the practitioner is—whether it’s a teacher, principal, [or] district administrator.”

Recognizing that practitioners have multiple priorities, Bradley is determined to build cooperation and momentum among MCRRA members. She emphasizes the importance of opening the lines of communication, saying, “People need to feel heard in a substantial way. It’s important to have one-on-one check-ins and identify resources that can be most helpful to each stakeholder.”

Bradley also notes the importance of having members communicate with one another. “To move forward, we need to make sure everyone’s voices are represented at the table. For MCRRA, this representation needs to include those serving American Indian students as well as educators serving other special populations.” Striving to get everyone at the table also means making the most of alliance meetings and providing both virtual and in-person networking opportunities. In addition, REL Midwest supports alliance members by providing trainings and coaching, and sharing relevant research as well as infographics and other resources that make research findings easy to understand.

Bradley hopes that building connections between alliance members will have ripple effects for educators across the Midwest. “Building relationships of trust between research communities and education communities is super important for improving practice overall. There are many useful tools that come from research-practice partnerships for practitioners at all levels.”

As Bradley notes, MCRRA has some exciting work planned during the next few months. The alliance has begun forming a regional community of practice around career readiness. Although MCRRA works primarily with stakeholders in Minnesota, this community of practice will include education practitioners from REL Midwest’s other six states. REL Midwest is also producing a public TV documentary examining career readiness programs in rural areas, which will premiere in fall 2018. In addition, MCRRA researchers and practitioners are working together to study the postsecondary pathways of Minnesota high school graduates. Stay tuned to the REL Midwest blog for updates about MCRRA’s work!

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Author(s) Information

Cora Goldston Staff Picture

Cora Goldston

Communications Associate | REL Midwest


Beating the odds (2)

Charter Schools (2)

College and Career Readiness (42)

Data Use (32)

Discipline (4)

Early Childhood (31)

Educator Effectiveness (36)

English Learners (10)

Literacy (11)

Math (1)

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Research Tools (2)

Rural (14)

Teacher Preparation (24)

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