About Editorial Projects in Education

Updated March 3, 2017

Editorial Projects in Education has its origins in the Sputnik era, when anxiety over the United States’ ability to withstand a concerted challenge to its technological pre-eminence touched off a wave of initiatives to improve the nation’s schools and colleges. Although today EPE—the publisher of Education Week—is recognized as the premier source of news, information, and analysis on American precollegiate education, it grew out of a bold experiment by 15 editors of leading university alumni magazines to speak with one voice to their readers as higher education sought to respond to the deep national concerns of that time.

The Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of the first manmade satellite to orbit the earth riveted attention on space and inspired the editors to call their collaborative research and writing project the “Moonshooter.”  With a $12,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, they produced a report the next year formally titled American Higher Education: 1958.  Eventually, 150 colleges signed up for the 32-page report, which reached nearly 1 million college-educated Americans.

The success of that first venture led to the group’s incorporation as Editorial Projects in Education, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, and the production of further reports and publications oriented to higher education. The most notable of those endeavors was The Chronicle of Higher Education. Launched in November 1966, on the eve of an extraordinarily turbulent period for America’s university campuses, The Chronicle was soon recognized as an unparalleled observer of the higher education scene.

Shift to a Precollegiate Focus

In 1978, EPE sold The Chronicle to its editors—a decision that set the stage for a fundamental shift in direction by EPE to pre-K-12 education. Inspired by the example of The Chronicle, EPE determined that the precollegiate field likewise needed independent, first-rate journalistic coverage of national scope. With the support again of the Carnegie Corporation as well as other philanthropies, EPE began publishing Education Week in September 1981.

Just as the launch of The Chronicle had occurred on the cusp of an epochal period for higher education, the debut of the “chronicle of precollegiate education” came as the first stirrings of a remarkable age of ferment in elementary and secondary policy were being felt. And even as Education Week’s early issues were airing the still-new Reagan administration’s plans to curtail the federal role in education, the field’s upstart “newspaper of record” was pointing to new anxieties about the state of the nation’s schools that echoed those of EPE’s earliest days. Those concerns, emerging against a backdrop of global competition and economic dislocation, gained rhetorical force and political momentum with the 1983 federal report A Nation at Risk.

The ensuing waves of K-12 improvement measures known simply as “the reform movement” helped establish, in turn, Education Week’s role as the most trusted source of news and analysis on one of the biggest continuing stories in American society. That role took on fresh importance as Education Week tracked the far-reaching No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, and now the implementation of its 2015 successor, the Every Student Succeeds Act.

At the time of Education Week’s founding, EPE had 18 employees. As of 2017, it had some 90 staff positions and an annual budget of about $18 million. Since 1998, the company has been based in Bethesda, Md., just outside Washington.

Advent of the Digital Age

Building strategically on Education Week’s reputation as the “must read” independent news source for leaders, educators, and policy experts in pre-K through high school, Editorial Projects in Education has extended its reach by serving readers, users, viewers, and clients across an array of platforms—from mobile devices to newsprint and magazine-style reports; from broadcast and Web video to webinars and live events; from targeted e-newsletters on selected topics to the online TopSchoolJobs recruitment service. EPE’s embrace of change at a time of profound transformation in the news business has positioned the organization for sustainable success and further growth in the 21st century.

The launch of edweek.org in 1996 ushered EPE into the Digital Age and created a platform for the evolution of its Education Week flagship publication into an integrated print-digital news organization that provides  distinctive staff-written original reporting, a forum for a lively but civil exchange of opinion on education issues, an unequaled online archive of 30-plus years of education coverage, high-quality content from news and information partners, interactive databases, and a host of video, multimedia, and other features that clarify complex points of policy and bring the stories of American schools, educators, students, and parents to life. At the same time, the digital world has opened up new audiences well beyond Education Week’s traditional core readership of administrators and policy leaders and enabled the newspaper and its reporters to connect with readers online and through social media.

The current frequency of print publication—37 issues of Education Week a year, down from a high of 45—reflects the migration of news online, yet still allows a significant physical presence for the newspaper. The 2010 introduction of a new series of Education Week special reports testifies to the continued value of print. At the same time, edweek.org employs a variety of digital tools to allow readers of a special report to delve deeper into its findings or explore the topic through online storytelling. Included in Education Week’s lineup of print editions are three high-profile annual reports—Quality Counts, Technology Counts, and Leaders To Learn From—and a mix of popular reports on such subjects as literacy instruction, personalized learning, student assessment, school principals, and teacher professional development.

Another major EPE publication, Teacher Magazine, drew plaudits during its long run in print (1989 to 2007) and now reaches a highly engaged audience of classroom teachers and teacher leaders through the Education Week Teacher channel of edweek.org. EPE’s lively Digital Directions magazine (published in print from 2007 to 2013) likewise now serves online readers interested in educational technology through an edweek.org channel.

A Forward-Looking Fidelity to Mission

Education Week’s commitment to a “24/7” understanding of the news expanded dramatically in the first decade of the new millennium. Education Week launched blogs enabling its beat reporters to break news whenever events warranted. The August 2009 debut of the daily EdWeek Update e-newsletter further spurred the timeliness of Education Week reporting and allowed the paper to “push out” same-day coverage of major stories, from the release of National Assessment of Educational Progress results to the hiring or firing of a big-city superintendent. The recent addition of EdWeek News Alerts has brought fresh stories of particular significance to users’ in-boxes throughout the day. And readers’ first awareness of noteworthy pre-K-12 developments now often comes courtesy of Education Week’s Twitter feed, with its 600,000-plus followers.

EPE seeks to advance the quality of K-12 education through a variety of tools both old and new. Its Education Week Research Center gathers authoritative data for the news organization’s Counts reports and works in tandem with the Education Week newsroom on “data journalism” projects around such issues as corporal punishment, school policing, and cyber charter schools.   EPE’s Knowledge Services unit packages topically themed Education Week Spotlight reports. A centuries-old medium, books, has a place in the mix through the Education Week Press. Education Week’s events team convenes district leaders for evenings of themed dinner discussions on K-12 topics and for exciting leadership-focused programs such as the annual Leaders To Learn From recognition event. Webinars and other virtual events bring insights and advice to working educators online, geared to issues of concern framed by Education Week’s topical-beat reporters.

Along with evolutionary changes and tactical tweaks to its editorial and business plans, EPE still places bold but considered strategic bets on certain new content offerings and services—much as it did with the creation of Education Week itself nearly four decades ago.

Two such moves in 2015 exemplify EPE’s forward-looking culture. EPE’s acquisition that year of the nonprofit TV-production company Learning Matters Inc. was a key building block in the creation of Education Week Video, an EPE unit devoted to serving the booming interest in visual storytelling. The unit’s work ranges from Web-based video “explainers” on pre-K-12 issues in the news to highly textured broadcast stories that air on public television under an Education Week partnership with the PBS NewsHour. Also in 2015, EPE launched EdWeek Market Brief, its first premium, membership-based information service. The online-only Market Brief provides original data and actionable intelligence and analysis that aim to bridge the knowledge gap between pre-K-12-serving companies and the needs of schools and districts.

In the sixth decade since its founding, Editorial Projects in Education squarely confronts the challenges—and enthusiastically welcomes the opportunities—of a media organization in the 21st century. It does so while remaining true to its mission: raising the level of understanding and discourse on critical issues in American education.