What legislators really want

For education research to better inform public policy, keep in mind that not only is there a cultural gap between the worlds of research and legislation, but also a gap between the world of policy and the world of practice.

That theme echoed throughout this morning’s AERA session called “From Research to Policy to Practice: Forming Partnerships, a Significant Way to Improve Current Educational Policy.”

Steve Fleischman of the American Institutes for Research said there is no ‘straight line’ from research to policy to practice. The actual path of influence is generally pretty chaotic. And while it’s important for education research to inform both policy and practice, it is more likely to influence practice than policy, at least in today’s world.


So what do policymakers really want from research?

They want to see how education research is relevant to the hot policy questions they face right this minute: It must be ‘timely. And research must be presented in simple, direct language, and the right format (solid conclusions and how they address pending legislation).

Research works best when it results from some kind of partnership, he said, whether with school districts or other vested parties. Every partnership is an exchange of value. And every partnership presents an opportunity to connect rigor and relevance.


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