Can We Bridge the Research-to-Policy Divide?

June 15, 2017 - 10:00 am to 11:30 am
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
1016 16th St. NW
7th Floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States



The quality of education research has greatly improved since the Institute for Education Sciences was launched almost fifteen years ago. Its research studies and evaluations are having an impact on the national policy debate—such as the reaction we’ve seen to IES’s recent analysis of the D.C. school voucher program.

Yet when it comes to informing the actual design and implementation of sound policies, from charter schooling to pre-school expansion to statewide accountability systems and much else, today’s research base remains quite limited. We have evidence, for example, on whether school choice “works”—but not much solid evidence about which policy levers to pull to make it work better at scale. Likewise, we know that “teachers matter”—but aren’t quite sure how to translate that finding into smart state policies around teacher preparation, evaluation, and much else.

How might this gap be narrowed? Should IES support different kinds of studies that get closer to the design questions that policymakers are asking? Is such research feasible? Or must we accept that research-based evidence has limitations when it comes to the nitty-gritty of policymaking?

Follow the discussion online using the hashtag #Research2Policy.


Michael J. Petrilli
Thomas B. Fordham Institute


Dale Chu

Vice President of Policy and Operations
America Succeeds

Dan Goldhaber

Director, CEDR 
University of Washington
Director, CALDER 
Vice President, AIR

Liz Farley-Ripple

Associate Professor of Education and Public Policy 
University of Delaware

Nora Gordon

Associate Professor 
McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University