The Use of Research within State Education Agencies

On March 22, the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) examined the use of research in the policymaking process in a forum on Capitol Hill titled, “The Use of Research within State Education Agencies.” The event featured new research by Dr. Margaret Goertz, University of Pennsylvania  and Dr. Diane Massell, University of Michigan, on how staff in State Education Agencies (SEAs) access, interpret, and use research to inform their work and how external partners support the dissemination of research within the agency. Their research found that SEA staff largely relied on expertise within the SEA for research on school improvement, but strategically sought out support from external organizations when expertise was lacking in the department. The Federal Government, professional membership organizations, universities, and others were tapped by all SEAs surveyed. The study also found that SEAs valued research that was “designed for use” and was usually used in conjunction with practitioner knowledge.

Carrie Conaway, the Associate Commissioner for Planning, Research, and Delivery Systems in the Massachusetts Department of Education discussed what this process looked like in her state. Her office works across the agency to identify and incorporate relevant research into policy and program decisions. Carrie discussed how Massachusetts successfully incorporated research into the development and implementation of their educator evaluation system. In closing, Jennifer Davis, Interim Director of the Innovation Lab Network (ILN) at the Council of Chief State School Officers, described how CCSSO has worked with states to develop and scale up research-based partnerships. The ILN currently consists of ten states that are dedicated to personalizing learning and has engaged in several collaborations to share research, tools, resources, and lessons learned. For more on this event, check out AYPF’s forum page.

Andrew Valent is a Program Associate at the American Youth Policy Forum 

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