Translating research to products

Translating research to products

WCEPS helps UW-Madison researchers
release online educational leadership assessment

Friends of UW–Madison started the Wisconsin Center for Educational Products and Services (WCEPS) in 2011, with the hope that this organization could find success licensing and marketing innovative products in the field of education created by faculty, staff and students.

Although WCEPS is just three years old and its work is only beginning, these hopes are becoming a reality.

In March, researchers at UW–Madison announced the release of a web-based survey tool that helps K–12 schools measure the extent to which tasks proven to improve learning are happening. This survey, named the Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning (CALL), was created by School of Education professors Richard Halverson and Carolyn Kelley, and is now available to schools via WCEPS.

Carolyn Kelley
Carolyn Kelley
“WCEPS has helped us define our market, develop a business plan, establish ownership, trademark, pricing … all critical business functions that are foreign to most faculty members,” says Kelley, who is chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. “As more and more UW faculty seek to ensure that their research has an impact beyond the academy, WCEPS will play an increasingly important role in translating research findings to products that can improve the quality of education in Wisconsin and beyond.”

Unlike other leadership measures, the CALL assessment focuses not on an individual leader, such as the principal, but on how well the educational team as a whole implements leadership functions day-today throughout the school. In addition, CALL isn’t designed to “grade” educators but to provide detailed guidance and concrete recommendations to bolster school improvement plans.

CALL also is unique because it was created with support from a U.S. Department of Education grant and is based on more than four years of research. The Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI), a proven partner to education leaders in Georgia, earlier this year purchased annual CALL subscriptions for five of its partner schools.

Matt Messinger, who was hired as the first executive director of WCEPS in June 2011, says the organization and its growing team of six employees feel fortunate to work with the innovative products created at the university, including the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER), which is housed within the School of Education. In addition to CALL, WCEPS also distributes products created by WIDA. The World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) group, which is housed within WCER, is a founding partner, with millions of people across the United States and around the world learning English by using WIDA products.

WCEPS logoThanks to these success stories, since WCEPS started full-time operations with one employee in June 2011, it has returned $973,500 in cost recovery to WCER and earmarked an additional $119,700 to benefit the university.

A nine-person board of directors governs WCEPS. Julie Underwood, dean of the UW–Madison School of Education, and Robert Mathieu, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, serve as ex-officio members.

“Our shared goal is to improve education and WCEPS gives us the ability to move those great ideas developed on our campus into the education market,” says Underwood.

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