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Policy Briefs

The Great Lakes Center funds policy briefs and reports on important education issues. Policy briefs and reports are written by recognized academic experts in each topic and include a summary of existing research available as well as policy recommendations.

Recently Released

New April 28, 2016 New

Five Key Steps To Reading And Understanding Education Policy Research

Policy BriefPolicy Brief

Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking – Five Simple Steps to Reading Policy Research
Date: April 28, 2016
Authors: Holly Yettick, Education Week Research Center
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As part of Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking, a multipart brief that takes up a number of important policy issues, Holly Yettick, Ph.D., director of the Education Week Research Center, provides a single-page brief to identify tips for recognizing higher-quality research studies and making better use of education policy research.

 

Title: Virtual Schools Report 2016: Directory and Performance Review
Date: April 20, 2016
Author: Gary Miron, Western Michigan University
Charisse Gulosino, University of Memphis
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The Virtual Schools Report 2016: Directory and Performance Review report is the fourth in an annual series of research briefs on the fast-growing U.S. virtual school sector. This year’s report provides a comprehensive directory of the nation’s full-time virtual and blended learning providers. The report finds little research has examined the inner workings of these schools. Also, the report finds that students attending these schools differ from those in traditional public schools, and the school outcomes are consistently below traditional public schools.

 

Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking – Do Choice Policies Segregate Schools?
Date: March 31, 2016
Authors: William Mathis and Kevin Welner, University of Colorado Boulder
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Despite advocates advancing the notion that integration can be promoted by increased school choice, a new brief considers the research evidence of those policies. The concise brief concludes that while choice policies may be designed and implemented in ways intended to advance integration; the result has been increased stratification. The National Education Policy Center published the brief with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

 

Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking – The “Portfolio” Approach to School District Governance
Date: March 29, 2016
Author: William Mathis and Kevin Welner, University of Colorado Boulder
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A new concise policy brief considers the research evidence of “portfolio” districts. According to the brief, the approach shifts decision-making away from local school district leaders. Despite concerns, the approach is now being used in several large urban districts across the country. The authors find that changing the governance structure creates a “false promise” for communities and could distract from larger efforts to address societal inequities.

 

Title: Holding Teacher Preparation Accountable: A Review of Claims and Evidence
Date: March 16, 2016
Authors: Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Boston College
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A new policy brief underscores the importance of using research evidence to drive teacher education policy. The brief explores four major national initiatives intended to improve teacher quality by “holding teacher education accountable” for arrangements and outcomes. Regarding evidence, three of the four initiatives (HEA regulations, CAEP accreditation, and NCTQ’s reviews) revealed thin evidence to support the claims made.  More evidence was found to support the fourth initiative (edTPA), but widespread implementation and professional acceptance may be challenging to accomplish. “We conclude that for the most part, they [the initiatives] are based on both thin evidence and a thin notion of equity that does not adequately account for the complex and long-standing out-of-school factors that produce and reproduce educational inequality.”

 

Title: Diverse Housing, Diverse Schooling: How Policy Can Stabilize Racial Demographic Change in Cities and Suburbs
Date: December 15, 2015
Author: Amy Stuart Wells, Teachers College Columbia University
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Throughout history, a child’s zip code has determined their educational opportunities, due to the tight relationship between racially segregated and unequal housing and schools. Research has revealed that racial inequality in American housing and schools is sustained by an iterative relationship between intangible and tangible factors in the housing-school choice process. According to a brief by Amy Stuart Wells, Teachers College, the nation may now have the ideal opportunity to address this housing-school nexus.

 

Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking – Reversing the Deprofessionalization of Teaching
Date: December 8, 2015
Author: William Mathis and Kevin Welner, University of Colorado Boulder
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As part of a series of briefs being released by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, William J. Mathis and Kevin Welner, University of Colorado Boulder, discuss three forces impacting teachers: (a) alternative (fast-track or no-track) teacher preparation and licensure; (b) teacher evaluation approaches that are largely focused on students’ test scores; and (c) scripted, narrow curriculum that can be constricting and demoralizing for high-quality teachers.

 

Title: International Test Score Comparisons and Educational Policy:
A Review of the Critiques
Date: October 30, 2015
Author: Martin Carnoy, Stanford University
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A new policy brief explores policy analysis and claims around the Program for International Student Achievement (PISA), as well as a second prominent international test, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Stanford education professor Martin Carnoy authored the brief, International Test Score Comparisons and Educational Policy: A Review of the Critiques.  In the brief, Carnoy focuses on four critiques of analyses that use average PISA scores as a comparative measure of student achievement. Importantly, Carnoy resolves, “there are changes that could be made to reduce misuse.” The brief includes five policy recommendations, which include reporting test results by family academic resource subgroups of students with different levels of resources.

 

Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking – School Accountability, Multiple Measures and Inspectorates in a Post-NCLB World
Date: October 25, 2015
Author: William Mathis, University of Colorado Boulder
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First brief in a series of concise publications considers alternative accountability approaches: As a part of a new series of briefs being released beginning today by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, William J. Mathis, University of Colorado Boulder, discusses the efficacy of three types of school evaluation approaches: (1) test based accountability; (2) multiple measures; and (3) school self-evaluations plus inspectorates.

 

Title: Investing in Equal Opportunity: What Would It Take to Build the Balance Wheel?
Date: September 15, 2015
Author: Jennifer King Rice, University of Maryland
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For more than 150 years, Horace Mann’s vision of public education becoming the “balance wheel” of the social structure has been a driving force behind education policymaking in the U.S.  Mann envisioned the education system to be the one institution to address inequalities in larger society.  However, substantial disparities in educational resources, opportunities, and outcomes undermine his vision in today’s schools. A new brief, Investing in Equal Opportunity: What Would It Take to Build the Balance Wheel?, written by Jennifer King Rice, University of Maryland, investigates the elements necessary for more universal equality of opportunities.

 

Title: Student Mobility: Causes, Consequences, Solutions
Date: June 1, 2015
Author: Russell W. Rumberger, UC Santa Barbara
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Desc: This brief explores the causes and consequences of student mobility, a widespread, and often-unheralded, problem facing American schools. According to the brief, written by Russell W. Rumberger, professor of education in the Gervirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California Santa Barbara, student mobility can negatively impact student achievement on test scores, high school graduation prospects, and even student behavior. Multiple moves and those accompanied by family disruptions produce more severe impacts. To reduce the negative impacts of student mobility, Rumberger recommends: (1) School officials should strive to reduce mobility by raising overall school quality; (2) School officials should give students and parents sufficient and timely information to make informed school transfer decisions; (3) Personnel in schools receiving transfers can prepare materials and activities before students arrive; and (4) State officials should collect and report school and district mobility rates.

 

Title: Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2015:
Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence
Date: March 10, 2015
Author: Alex Molnar, University of Colorado Boulder (editor)
Gary Miron, Western Michigan University
Luis Huerta, Teachers College, Columbia University
Michael Barbour, Sacred Heart University
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Title: Why School Report Cards Merit A Failing Grade
Date: January 26, 2015
Author:

Kenneth R. Howe and Kevin Murray, University of Colorado Boulder

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Title: Personalized Instruction: New Interest, Old Rhetoric, Limited Results – Time for a New Direction for Computer-mediated learning
Date: November 24, 2014
Author: Noel Enyedy, University of California – Los Angeles
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Title:
Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2014: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence
Date: March 4, 2014
Author:

Alex Molnar, University of Colorado Boulder (editor)
Gary Miron, Western Michigan University
Luis Huerta, Teachers College, Columbia University
Jennifer King Rice, University of Maryland
Michael Barbour, Sacred Heart University

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Title: Does Class Size Matter?
Date: February 18, 2014
Author: Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Northwestern University
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Title:

Teach For America: A Return To The Evidence

Date: January 7, 2014
Author: Julian Vasquez Heilig, University of Texas – Austin
Su Jin Gatlin Jez, Sacramento State University
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Legislative Brief: Data-driven Improvement and Accountability
Model Legislation: Model Legislative Language for Comprehensive Assessment and Accountability
Date: October 22, 2013
Author: Andy Hargreaves, Boston College
Henry Braun, Boston College
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Title:

Financing Online Education & Virtual Schooling: A Guide for Policymakers & Advocates

School Finance 2.0: Flexible Financing for a Virtual World

Date: October 15, 2013
Author: Bruce D. Baker, Rutgers University
Justin Bathon, University of Kentucky
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Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking
Date: June 13, 2013
Author: William Mathis, University of Colorado-Boulder
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Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking — Moving Beyond Tracking
Date: May 30, 2013
Author: William Mathis, University of Colorado-Boulder
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Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking — Addressing School Environment and Safety for LGBT Students
Date: May 23, 2013
Author:

William Mathis, University of Colorado-Boulder

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Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking— Twenty-first-Century Skills and Implications for Education
Date: May 14, 2013
Author: William Mathis, University of Colorado-Boulder
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Title: Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2013: Politics, Performance, Policy, and Research Evidence
Date: May 2, 2013
Author:

Alex Molnar, University of Colorado Boulder (editor)
Gary Miron, Western Michigan University
Luis Huerta, Teachers College, Columbia University
Jennifer King Rice, University of Maryland
Larry Cuban, Stanford University

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Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking—English Language Learners and Parental Involvement
Date: March 19, 2013
Author: William Mathis, University of Colorado-Boulder
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Title: What Does It Take to Scale Up Innovations? An Examination of Teach For America, Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Knowledge is Power Program
Date: March 14, 2013
Author:

Ben Levin, University of Toronto

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Title: Policy Reforms and De-Professionalization of Teaching
Date: February 28, 2013
Author: H. Richard Milner IV, Vanderbilt University
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Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking—Effective School Expenditures
Date: February 7, 2013
Author:

William Mathis, University of Colorado-Boulder

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Title: Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking—Dropout Prevention
Date: January 17, 2013
Author: William Mathis, University of Colorado-Boulder
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Miron-Virtual-Schools-2016-Appendix D