Evaluating Policy—from the Chalkboard to the School Board

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As government policies increasingly aim to influence what gets taught and tested in public schools, researchers in the Graduate School of Education have some questions: How do attempts to hold schools accountable for results affect what happens in the classrooms? How do schools’ resources influence their ability to respond to government mandates? What types of professional development and incentives help make teachers more effective?

As members of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), they have been asking such questions for two decades. Founded by GSE Dean Susan Furhman, CPRE will celebrate its 20th anniversary next month with a gathering in Washington.

Three guests will be honored for their contributions to education policy: Governor James B. Hunt Jr. of the Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy; Lynn Olson of Education Week; and Robert Slavin of the Success for All Foundation.

Joining the research of Penn and four other universities—Stanford, Harvard, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison—CPRE “provides evidence of which practices and policies actually lead to increased student learning,” Fuhrman says.

She created CPRE (www.cpre.org) in 1985 to examine state education reform; since then the organization has taken on the government’s growing involvement in all aspects of elementary and secondary education, ranging from instruction to leadership and finance.

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