Policy Analyses by J.E. Stone, Ed.D.
Research and Analysis
A great deal of research and policy analysis is available and its ostensive purpose is to improve public education. The problem, however, is that almost all of it is produced by and for educators, not consumers. As a result, it tends to serve the aims and purposes of its educator audience, not those of the consuming public.
In general, the public want schools to produce better student learning outcomes. Educators, by contrast, generally believe that schools are doing the best they can and that disappointing outcomes are the product of social and economic limitations over which schools have little control.
Published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Buyers and Sellers of Educational Research” discusses the contrast in these points of view and their impact on what the public is given to understand research findings and school improvement.
A recent change in New York’s school accountability policy illustrates a complementary issue affecting the impact of education policy on improvement. Instead of improving the learning outcomes sought by parents and the public, the policies adopted by the schools often serve to deflect public pressures for improvement. The policies may be justified as reasonable and compassionate but, in reality, they allow schools to carry on with ineffective practices despite their negative impact on students. It is a form of compassion that is blind to its long-term consequences.
Bottom line: despite vast research and development efforts undertaken over decades, most schools improve little because the policies and practices they choose to employ are not well suited to the public’s educational aims. For more on this issue see:
- Developmentalism: An Obscure but Pervasive Restriction on Educational Improvement
- Research and Innovation: Let the Buyer Beware
- Teacher Training and Pedagogical Methods
- Learning Requires More than Play
- Americans Know Very Little About Local School Quality
Regarding the institutional restraints at work in higher education research, and the capacity of schools of education to reform education:
- Inflated Grades, Inflated Enrollments, and Inflated Budgets
- Will Teacher Training Reform Led by the Schools of Education Improve Student Achievement?
As a nonprofit organization that relies exclusively on support from education’s consumers, the Education Consumers Foundation has published a series of briefs that examine education issues from a consumer perspective. Check them out below.