Opinion
Families & the Community Opinion

It’s Hard to Stay on Top of Education Policy. You’ve Got to Have a Strategy

Email updates, journals, Twitter, and more
By Deven E. Carlson — January 13, 2020 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

As an academic who primarily focuses on education policy, I’m mainly concerned with keeping up to date on research in that realm. Today’s fast-paced environment makes it challenging to stay on top of all the latest developments in the field. Over time, I’ve devised a number of strategies to help make sure that relevant research papers, think tank reports, and Capitol Hill hearings cross my radar. Keeping apprised of developments on these fronts allows me to usefully contribute to the research and policy discussions of the day and ensures that I can provide my students with up-to-date information.

First, I subscribe to email updates from two working paper series, EdWorkingPapers and the National Bureau of Economic Research. EdWorkingPapers is a relatively recent addition to the education research scene, but it has quickly established itself as a go-to source for the latest education policy scholarship. NBER papers are broader in scope—they cover a wide variety of topics—but the weekly email blast typically contains at least one or two papers addressing education.

Today's fast-paced environment makes it challenging to stay on top of all the latest developments in the field."

In addition to staying on top of working papers, I also make sure to keep up with the latest peer-reviewed work by subscribing to several journals, which release the tables of contents of each new issue via email.

The list of journals one could subscribe to is almost endless, but the ones I pay attention to include Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education Finance and Policy, Educational Researcher, and Economics of Education Review. Even though I’ve typically seen a number of working papers in advance of their publication, there are always a few articles that I missed that catch my eye. And while most of these journals are unfortunately locked away behind paywalls, a quick Google Scholar search of the title will usually return an ungated version of the paper.

Third, I regularly visit the websites of the major policy evaluation firms to see what they’ve been working on. Places like Mathematica, RAND Corporation, MDRC, Abt Associates, the Urban Institute, American Institutes for Research, and others do terrific education policy work. And because only a portion of these evaluations ever make it into the peer-reviewed literature, I make a point to routinely check and see if these policy and research organizations have recently released any briefs or reports that pique my interest.

About This Section

BRIC ARCHIVE

As part of the annual release of the 2020 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, Education Week reached out to a handful of influential scholars from this year’s rankings to find out how they stay informed.

Read the full package, along with original analysis of this year’s new Edu-Scholar data by the EdWeek Research Center.

Beyond keeping up with education research, I’m also on the mailing lists of the major think tanks that address education politics, policy, and practice, including the Fordham Institute, the Center for American Progress, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Brookings Institution. To make sure I’m getting the full picture, I skim the output of organizations that straddle the line between research and advocacy, such as the Center for Reinventing Public Education or the National Education Policy Center. I glance at a couple of those daily email blasts from Washington, D.C., organizations that give a run-down of what is happening on the Hill or in the U.S. Department of Education. I occasionally take a peek at online edu-journalism outlets, like Chalkbeat or the Hechinger Report.

Most important on this front, though, is my regular perusal of EdWeek, which is unparalleled in its coverage of all aspects of education. It has great policy coverage at both the state and, especially, federal level. It regularly features the perspectives of educators and folks doing the important on-the-ground work. And the opinion pieces are routinely well-crafted and thought-provoking. Of course, none of this will be news to anyone reading this piece.

Finally, an overview of my approach to staying on top of the latest developments in education wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Twitter, which provides me with an invaluable connection to the broader education community. A quick scroll through my timeline can both alert me to interesting research and scholarly discussions and distill reactions to the political event or policy debate of the day.

Now, there are aspects of Twitter that promote negativity and incivility, but in my experience those downsides can be mostly eliminated by carefully curating the list of folks you follow and exerting the willpower to disengage from unproductive interactions. Overall, I’m consistently surprised at just how useful Twitter can be in keeping me up to date on the latest education developments.

Together, these strategies and resources allow me to stay current in the classroom and help ensure that I can contribute to the research and policy debates of the day.

Follow the Education Week Opinion section on Twitter.

Sign up to get the latest Education Week Opinion in your email inbox.
A version of this article appeared in the January 15, 2020 edition of Education Week as How I Curate My News And Research Diet


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community Reported Essay Pandemic Parents Are More Engaged. How Can Schools Keep It Going?
Families have a better sense of what their child is learning, but schools will have to make some structural shifts to build on what they started.
6 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Families & the Community Opinion How to Preserve the Good Parts of Pandemic Schooling
Yes, there have been a few silver linings for student well-being in the pandemic. Let’s not lose them now, write two researchers.
Laura Clary & Tamar Mendelson
4 min read
A student and teacher communicate through a screen.
iStock/Getty
Families & the Community COVID Protocols Keep Changing. Here's How Schools Can Keep Parents in the Know
Parents and educators shared best practices for effective communication related to the pandemic. It all centers on transparency.
6 min read
communication information network 1264145800 b
cagkansayin/iStock/Getty
Families & the Community Teachers' Union, Education Groups Unite to Resist Critical Race Theory Bans
Some of the country’s most prominent education groups are organizing against efforts to restrict teaching students about racism.
3 min read
Image of a "stop" hand overlaying a circle with a red diagonal line.
DigitalVision Vectors