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Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking - 2013 Collection

Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking is a 10-part brief that takes up important policy issues and identifies policies supported by research. Each section focuses on a different issue, and its recommendations for policymakers are based on the latest scholarship.  

At a time of growing national recognition of the need for a policy shift to more successful approaches to school reform, this multi-part brief identifies affirmative, research-based approaches to reform in areas including teacher evaluation, early childhood education, and school choice.

In doing so, the briefs help to describe a forward-looking alternative to the current over-reliance on test-based accountability, privatization and school choice.

The sections can be found individually below, with the series in its entirety at the end.


Section 1:  Teacher Evaluation.  After reviewing different types of evaluative methods, Mathis points out the importance of using a combination of methods, of including all stakeholders in decision-making about evaluation systems, and of investing in the evaluation system.

Section 2:  Common Core State Standards.  The actual effect of the widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards will depend less on the standards themselves than on how they are used.

Section 3:  Preschool Education.  Investment in high-quality preschool education is one of the most effective reform strategies. This section details the key elements of such a program, and the supporting research.

Section 4:  Public Funding of School Choice.  The determination of “fair” funding for various school choice approaches requires careful examination and inquiry of the factors outlined in this section.

Section 5:  Dropout Strategies.  Mathis discusses the success of various dropout prevention strategies, and advises policymakers on how best to decrease dropout rates.  

Section 6:  Effective School Expenditures.  There is a general consensus on policy initiatives where increased school funding will likely lead to improved outcomes.

Section 7:  English Language Learners Parent Involvement.  A series of recommendations are proposed for policymakers, districts and schools that would involve the parents of English learners to improve the achievement of those students.

Section 8:  21st Century Skills and Implications for Education.  Bill Mathis explains making schools relevant to meeting the needs of the 21st century, and provides recommendations that focus on broadening accountability measures to ensure against the narrowing of curriculum. 

Section 9:  Addressing School Environment and Safety for LGBT StudentsThere is a continuing need to ensure that schools are safe for all students; examined in this report are the particular challenges faced by those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT).

Section 10:  Moving Beyond Tracking. Segregating students into classrooms according to perceived ability or achievement has been found to be harmful to those enrolled in lower tracks, and to provide no significant advantages for those in higher tracks.