Education researchers can influence public policy, but by not operating in a vacuum. Education researchers must work with school districts and other partners to do contextually relevant studies.
“Be more opportunistic when you’re trying to influence policy,” said Steven Ross, of the Center for Research in Educational Policy at the University of Memphis.
Addressing the AERA‘s session, “From Research to Policy to Practice,” Ross advised, “Get yourself invited to talk. Do your research in partnerships with school districts and schools.”
There are many good research-based programs out there, he said, but implementation at the local level makes all the difference in their effectiveness from one district to the next. So it’s important to do contextualized studies within districts and to determine not just “What Works,” but what works *here*.
Ross mentioned his Center’s evaluation study in Toledo that included people from school district, the teachers’ union, the parents, and the teachers. The net result was a very rich study, and the district made policy and practice decisions based on the findings.