A new effort, Project for Policy Innovation in Education (PPIE), based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is bringing together university-based researchers with district and state educational leaders to pursue policy research that will have a real impact in their communities. This new project is part of a continuing effort of the Ed School to bridge the gap between practice and policy.
On May 3–4, PPIE’s inaugural event, Data Partnerships for Policy Innovations in Education, will unite key staff of districts and states with researchers from Harvard and other institutions to begin developing a set of research projects based on practitioner needs. The goal of the event is to assemble teams of leading policy analysts and social scientists to work with administrative data to answer critical questions faced by policy makers in education. This initial effort will lay the foundation for creating a strong connection between scholars and policy makers ensuring that policy research is relevant and heard by decision makers.
Professor Tom Kane, faculty director of PPIE, stated that “districts continually question whether their programs and policies are effective. Ironically, much of the data that are required to evaluate programs, districts already have. What districts often lack, however, is technical research capacity. This is something that the University has in abundance. This conference is a first step in connecting these two communities.”
Representatives from Boston Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Chicago Public Schools, Cincinnati Public Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District, and the New York City Department of Education, are among those participating in this initial collaborative event, which is sponsored by the Spencer Foundation. Participants will work in groups based on their specific research needs and interests to craft research projects whose answers could have a large impact on education policies both in the participating districts and across the nation.
“Academic research has too often been disconnected from the pressing questions that keep district leaders up at night,” noted Jon Fullerton, executive director of PPIE. “Our hope is that by involving district leadership up front in deciding on questions and structuring research, PPIE can ensure that important research findings have an audience ready and willing to use them.”