U-M receives federal grant for new post-doctoral training program in public policy, education

February 2, 2011

A federal grant will fund a new postdoctoral training program at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and School of Education, providing fellows with rigorous training in the education research sciences.

The program will train a total of five postdoctoral students, each for a 2-year fellowship. The five-year, $687,000-grant from the U.S. Department of Education takes effect March 1.

"Smart policy rests on solid evidence. We are working with data from Michigan, as well as other states and school districts, to find out what works in education," U-M researcher Susan Dynarski said. "The training program will expand the community of researchers ready to do this important work."

Dynarski and Brian Jacob, with appointments at the Ford School and School of Education, serve as the principal investigators.

The training program will provide research experience in the areas of teacher quality; mathematics and science education; organization and management of schools and districts; education policy, finance and systems; education technology; and analysis of longitudinal data to support state and local education reform.

Fellows will receive mentorship from program faculty, attend courses and specialized training institutes on quantitative methods; and participate in seminars and workshops. The fellows will have access to all existing courses at U-M during their training programs.

They will also collect, compile and analyze data; design surveys; participate in research planning; and present results at seminars and professional meetings.

This new grant/program is an extension of a growing education policy focus in the Ford School. In the fall of 2007, Jacob launched the Education Policy Initiative (EPI) at the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP). EPI has included public events regarding the latest academic research on education reform; research conferences for policymakers, practitioners and academics; research projects; and now a new education research consortium with U-M, MSU, and the state of Michigan: the Michigan Consortium for Education Research.

Other public policy faculty affiliated with the new program are David Harding, Isaac McFarlin, and Kevin Stange. School of Education faculty participating in the venture are Steve DesJardins and Brian McCall. Other U-M faculty involved include John Bound and Jeffrey Smith from the Department of Economics, and Ben Hansen from the Department of Statistics.