Session Summary: Education Policy Research Partnerships: Models from Massachusetts
Keunwon Song is a MPP student at George Mason University.
Carrie Conaway, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jon Fullerton, Harvard University
Joshua Goodman, Harvard University
Roneeta Guha, SRI International
Carrie Conaway from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education moderated a panel consisting of Jon Fullerton, a Harvard professor and Executive Director of the Center for Education Policy Research; Joshua Goodman, an assistant professor at Harvard; Roneeta Guha from SRI International. Carrie underlined some of conventional objectives in her job: college and career readiness for students, promoting diversity, etc. Her Department is strong in descriptive and comparative; what-if modeling; rapid turnaround.What external groups bring to the table are an enhanced level of sophistication, quantitative rigor and independence. She pointed out diverging interests of her Department in local contextualized knowledge versus researchers’ interest in national generalization. But these obstacles are overcome when one builds a long-term relationship and trust. For her, when involving academic researchers, it is always a risk – she needs to be ready to take whatever the result that may come as they are. The challenge is always figuring out where mutual goals are.
Jon Fullerton stressed that researchers need to focus on policymakers. His Center works with the state of Massachusetts. They work on questions of interest. And, this realizes lower transaction cost. Joshua Goodman spoke of how the Department benefits working with researchers: 1). There is a two-way collaboration. 2). Looser parameters in academia allow for more objectivity and experimentation. 3). The labor is free. 4). Researchers bring cutting edge methods.
Roneeta Guha and the SRI Internaitonal do implementation and impact studiesfor the Department. While their service does not come cheap, their scale allows them to take on largerproject studies. Being aware that the Department is uninterested in 100-page reports, they produce policy briefs and memos that are to the point. There is a constant feedback loop (e.g. update every 2 weeks) to ensure that project is on course and addressing the goals of the Department.
Carrie Conaway concluded with a few lessons learned through this partnership:1). Timeliness of findings enables for quick cyclesof improvement. 2). When it comes to administrative data(e.g. survey, class observation and descriptive statistics), disaggregation is important because the closer you get to districts or schools, the better you are able to see yourself in comparison to others. In that sense, maps are helpful. 3). It is a good idea to turn research methods to state-wide metrics.