CPRE Policy Briefs
PublicationGraduating From High School: New Standards in the States(1989-04-01) University of Pennsylvania
This brief examines attempts by states to improve public education by increasing high school course requirements in 1989. According to a report published by the Center for Policy Research in Education, these attempts have had mixed results. As a result of the reforms, low-and middle-achieving students are taking more courses in science and math, but there are serious questions about the quality of the courses themselves. This issue of CPRE Policy Briefs is based on the report which was written with assistance from Paula White and Janice Patterson.
PublicationPrograms for Young Children: State Policy Options(1987-10-01) University of Pennsylvania
Young Children Face the States: Issues and Options for Early Childhood Programs by W. Norton Grubb is summarized in this policy brief. The report discusses the many decisions state policymakers must make as they seek to respond to needs of today's parents and children. It also describes the historical conflicts that persist within the early childhood movement and the status of early childhood education policy across the country.
PublicationKeeping College Affordable: A Proposal From Two Economists(1992-05-01) University of Pennsylvania
In order to broaden discussion about higher education finance, this policy brief outlines a proposal for a major change in federal financial aid, state tuition, and state financial aid policies. The proposal is drawn from the book Keeping College Affordable: Government and Educational Opportunity by Michael S. McPherson and Morton Owen Schapiro.
PublicationScaling Up Instructional Improvement Through Teacher Professional Development: Insights From the Local Systemic Change Initiative(2006-03-01) Weiss, Iris R; Pasley, Joan DThere is a widespread view in the research and policy communities that the quality of mathematics and science instruction offered to students in the United States is low. The widely discussed results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) suggested that the reasons for American students’ poor performance in mathematics and science are complex, but at least partly due to weaknesses in the knowledge and skills of those teaching the subjects. In order to enhance teaching in these content areas, states and school districts need to act on what research has discovered about professional development (PD) and instructional improvement. The purpose of this brief is to share results from a major PD effort that extend our understanding of what is entailed in creating improvements at scale. PublicationState Education Agencies and the Implementation of New Teacher Evaluation Systems(2015-10-01) McGuinn, PatrickIt has been three years since Race to the Top grant-winning states piloted new teacher evaluation systems and many of them have made considerable progress, yet according to media coverage and a Government Accountability Office report published in April 2015, struggles remain and most grantees have asked to extend the timetables for completing this work. Given the enormous importance and complexity of these reforms — and the fact that states vary widely in the timing, approach, and success of their implementation work — this is an excellent opportunity to assess the progress that has been made and identify where challenges persist. It is imperative that states learn from one another during this implementation stage, and this brief from Patrick McGuinn (Drew University) serves to facilitate the discussion by highlighting what is and is not working in the Race to the Top states. PublicationA Decade of Charter Schools: From Theory to Practice(2002-04-01) Bulkley, Katrina; Fisher, JenniferThe number of schools operating under charter school laws has soared over the last decade, from a small number operating in just a few states to more than 2,300 schools serving over 575,000 students in 34 states and the District of Columbia. More than half of these schools are concentrated in a few states — Arizona has over 400 charter schools, and California, Florida, Michigan, and Texas each has more than 150. Charter schools are relatively autonomous schools of choice that operate under a charter or contract issued by a public entity such as a local school board, public university, or state board of education. In theory, these contracts, usually lasting three-to-five years, provide school operators more autonomy than afforded a district-run public school in exchange for enhanced accountability by requiring schools to prove they are worthy of succeeding contracts. The Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a review of the research on charter schools. This CPRE Policy Brief summarizes some key findings of our review. It is important to note that charter schools are an institutional innovation, meaning the laws allow schools to operate under a different structure. Charter school laws are not an attempt to endorse any particular learning approach or curriculum in the schools. Ted Kolderie, one of the creators of the charter school concept, explains that, “…the chartered school is not a kind of school; not a A Decade of Charter Schools: From Theory to Practice By Katrina Bulkley and Jennifer Fisler learning program or method. The opportunity the law provides is an empty institutional structure, as a building is an empty physical structure. Students learn from what the organizers put into it” (personal communication, October 25, 2001). Thus, in comparing schools operating under charter school laws with those directly operated by public school districts, it is necessary to consider the substantial variation under the charter school umbrella. PublicationThe Bumpy Road to Education Reform(1996-06-01) Goertz, Margaret E; Floden, Robert E.; O'Day, JenniferThis issue of CPRE Policy Briefs Identifies five challenges that confront educators and policymakers as they develop higher standards and other policies and structures to support improved student and teacher learning. It also describes strategies used by a few states and localities to address some of these challenges. The brief draws on findings of a three-year study of standards-based reform conducted by CPRE researchers in California, Michigan and Vermont. In each state, researchers conducted case studies of four schools in two districts reputed to be active in reform and capable of supporting education reform. Although the sample is small, the similarity of reform issues across such widely varying fiscal, demographic, and political contexts suggests that lessons learned may be applicable to sites other than those studied here. Overall, we conclude that while states and local school districts have taken major steps to reform the ways they teach and assess their students, the road to reform is arduous, full of bumps and still under construction. PublicationFrom Research to Practice and Back Again: TIMSS as a Tool for Educational Improvement(2000-04-01) Dunson, MarliesThe U.S. Department of Education released data from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to serve as a “starting point to examine U.S. education, student achievement, teaching and curricula.” The researchers and administrators of TIMSS hoped that these findings would provoke reflective discussions by providing a different lens through which schools could reevaluate their current practices and education policymakers could benefit from new insights. In the three years following the release of the first set of data, a number of states, districts, and schools have delved deeply into TIMSS for policy development and school improvement, receiving assistance through meaningful collaborations. U.S. researchers, practitioners, and policymakers have been working together with data from TIMSS and other research studies to generate viable solutions for improving student achievement in mathematics and science. This Policy Brief stems from one such effort—a TIMSS Policy Forum that was held in Washington, D.C. in 1999. At the Forum, researchers described the questions they were seeking to answer using TIMSS data, and practitioners and state and local policymakers described the tactics they were taking to support school improvement using those research findings. The interdependence among research, policy, and practice demonstrated at the Forum and reported in this Brief serves as a model for a national conversation on education that is grounded in both information and its practical application. The initiatives, outlined below, undertaken in the three districts, one school, and one state illustrate the impact that meaningful data and useful interpretations of those data can have on education policy and practice. By closely comparing and contrasting the curricula, teaching practices, professional development, and administration policies of many countries, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners can jointly assess what might work best for students in the United States. PublicationIncluding School Finance in Systemic Reform Strategies: A Commentary(1994-05-01) Odden, AllanThis 1994 CPRE Finance Brief takes a look at the school finance issue and proposes that education funding be tied more closely to systemic reform initiatives. It next describes past trends in school finance and current challenges to traditional education funding sources. Policy implications of these changes are presented, followed by a discussion of possible components of a finance system based on systemic reform. PublicationAccountability during school closures: moving from external to internal(2020-11-10) Francois, Chantal; Weiner, JennieThis inquiry found that the lack of external accountability pressures neither appeared to negatively impact teachers’ efforts, commitment to relevancy and rigor in their classrooms, or their responsiveness to families. This is one of a series of briefs that focused on a ‘critical incident’ surrounding school closure and offers pragmatic suggestions to educational leaders as they continue to grapple with the disruptions of the pandemic.