April 16, 2015

Contact: 
Robin Rogers, (347) 989-7869, robin.rogers@qc.cuny.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Review cautions against adoption of innovative methods used in education advocacy report

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Apr. 16, 2015) – A recent report from the Brooking Institution's Brown Center on Education Policy attempted to examine the influence and approach of education advocacy organizations in three states. The report looked at the causal influence of organizations for and against education reform in Louisiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina. An academic review of the report finds there is a gap between the evidence and the conclusions presented, however, the methods used in the report may be useful in education policy research.

Robin Rogers, associate professor of sociology at Queens College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, and Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of Educational Policy Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, reviewed Measuring and Understanding Education Advocacy for the Think Twice think tank review project. The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) produced the review with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

According to the report, findings indicated that coordination of advocacy groups strengthens their impact on the introduction of policy into the legislative arena, content of legislation, and the votes of members of the legislature. The report also found that the groups' perceived influence closely tracked outcomes.

The report utilized two methodological innovations to measure the impact of advocacy groups on education reform policy: (1) Surveys with Placebo (SwP); and (2) Critical Path Analysis (CPA). In their review, Rogers and Goldrick-Rab, find that SwP and CPA may be useful in education policy research, but the methods have limitations that are not acknowledged in the report.

Additionally, the reviewers suggest the report is further limited because the research is a small case study, included a low response rate, and were based on advocacy groups' self-reported tactics.

Regarding the overall merits of the report, Rogers and Goldrick-Rab state, "this report is useful primarily for understanding the perceptions of education advocacy groups' influence and tactics in the three cases studied."

However, in their conclusion, they find "while both SwP and CPA are interesting methods that deserve further development, we caution against their adoption until they are better developed."

Read the full review at:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find Measuring and Understanding Education Advocacy on the web:
http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2015/03/04-education-advocacy-whitehurst

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education, Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develp reasearch-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/