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.

A version of this article appeared in the January 15, 2020 edition of Education Week as How I Curate My News And Research Diet

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.
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
Challenging the Stigma: Emotions and STEM
STEM isn't just equations and logic. Join this webinar and discover how emotions fuel innovation, creativity, & problem-solving in STEM!
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

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 Leader To Learn From Absenteeism Was a Big Problem in This District. A New Strategy Is Getting Results
Sharon Bradley remembers how it felt to miss school for reasons outside her control.
11 min read
Sharon Bradley, director of student, family and community services for Plano ISD, listens to members of the Character, Attendance, and Restorative Education (CARE) team discuss their current projects in Plano, Texas, on Dec. 14, 2023. The CARE department focuses on equipping students and adults with the tools, strategies, and resources that support a safe, engaging, and collaborative learning environment through character education, attendance recovery, and restorative practices.
Sharon Bradley, the director of student, family, and community services for the Plano, Texas, school district listens to staff members on a special team that focuses on helping students and their families address a range of challenges that may get in the way of regular attendance and engagement at school.
Shelby Tauber for Education Week
Families & the Community Leader To Learn From A Former Teacher Turns Classroom Prowess Into Partnerships With Families
Ana Pasarella maximizes her community's assets to put students first.
8 min read
Ana Pasarella, the director of family and community engagement for Alvin ISD, oversees an activity as Micaela Leon, 3, a student in Alvin ISD’s READy Program, draws on a piece of paper on Alvin ISD’s STEM bus in Manvel, Texas, on Dec. 8, 2023.
Ana Pasarella, the director of family and community engagement for the Alvin Independent school district in Texas, oversees an activity as Micaela Leon, 3, a student in the district's READy Program, draws on a piece of paper inside the district's STEM bus in Manvel, Texas.
Callaghan O’Hare for Education Week
Families & the Community Parents Trust School Librarians to Select Books, But There's a Catch
A new survey shows what parents think of school libraries and librarians following efforts throughout the country to remove books.
5 min read
Books sit in a cart and on shelves in an elementary school library in suburban Atlanta on Aug. 18, 2023.
Books sit in a cart and on shelves in an elementary school library in suburban Atlanta on Aug. 18, 2023.
Hakim Wright Sr./AP
Families & the Community A Side Effect of Anti-CRT Campaigns? Reduced Trust in Local Schools
The calls to ban CRT had little evidence behind them, but they were powerful enough to change people's perceptions of their local schools.
6 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis publicly signs HB7, "individual freedom," also dubbed the "stop woke" bill during a news conference at Mater Academy Charter Middle/High School in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., on Friday, April 22, 2022.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs HB7, the Individual Freedom Act, also dubbed the Stop WOKE Act, during a news conference at Mater Academy Charter Middle/High School in Hialeah Gardens, Fla., on Friday, April 22, 2022. The bill is intended to prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 schools. New research finds that the public calls for bans on the instruction of critical race theory diminished the general public's trust in local schools and teachers.
Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald via AP