School & District Management Report Roundup

Study: State Educators Rely on Predigested Research

By Sarah D. Sparks — October 01, 2013 1 min read

State education officials often search for research to inform their efforts to improve schools, but they are much more likely to use guides and syntheses rather than plow through academic journals, and they rely on networks in and out of the agency to gather the best information.

So finds a new study by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, which looked at three state agencies in diverse parts of the country, with staffs ranging from 250 to 500. While the states varied in how closely they followed emerging education research for school improvement, all three created teams across multiple offices to identify and share promising results.

“These are busy people, and they are responding to a problem of practice,” said Diane Massell, a senior researcher with the consortium who co-wrote the study with fellow consortium researchers Carol A. Barnes of the University of Michigan and Margaret E. Goertz of the University of Pennsylvania.

Most often 30 to 40 percent of the time state officials looked to the federal government for appropriate research, using comprehensive technical assistance centers, regional educational labs, and online sources such as the What Works Clearinghouse. Two states also frequently sought research support from professional groups, such as the Council of Chief State School Officers, and occasionally but much less often relied on independent researchers, journals, and universities.

A version of this article appeared in the October 02, 2013 edition of Education Week as Study Explores How States Keep Up on School Research

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