Policy Research


Policy analysis and research provide crucial information to ensure a quality education for all students. Policy links standards-based reform to education advocacy and school finance litigation, and provides insight and guidance for effective and innovative programs and services. Policy organizations and academic institutions conduct important research on critical issues, such as:

Teaching quality,
School facilities,
Early childhood education, and
Rural education.

All of these policy areas play an important role in creating a successful system of public education. Public engagement, parent and community involvement, and civic capacity building are also keys to success and subjects of extensive research.

Much of the fundamental research on education and school finance is conducted by faculty at graduate schools of education and schools of public administration (for example Syracuse University’s Maxwell School), many of whom are members of the American Educational Research Association and/or the American Education Finance Association. The Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) is a collaboration of five of the nation’s top research universities in an effort to improve student learning through research on education reform, policy, and finance. An online collection of much of this research is available at the ERIC information center.

Because education has traditionally been a state issue, many policy organizations are state-based, such as the California Budget Project, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, and the Fiscal Policy Institute. For other state policy organizations, see the State-by-State pages.

Many national organizations have also developed strong programs in education policy, which provide research and analysis. These include the Center on Education Policy, the Alliance for Excellent Education, and Public Education Network.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) analyze data on the local, state and national levels. Moreover, the Regional Education Laboratories work to ensure that people involved in educational improvement have access to information from research and educational practice.

There is also a growing interest in the federal role in education, as the debate over the efficacy of the federal No Child Left Behind law rages. Organizations such as the Aspen Institute and the Education Trust have devoted enormous resources to understanding the implications, successes, and failures of this influential federal policy.

Recent Developments

Among the many significant recent developments in policy analysis affecting education and school funding reform are:

The increasing use of costing-out studies to determine the cost of providing an adequate education;

Greater emphasis on closing achievement gaps;

Better understanding of programs that work for “at-risk” students, including:


High quality early education,

High quality teaching,

Strong accountability programs; and

Emerging criticisms of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Updated November 2006