Susan Dynarski is guest editor of a special issue of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. The May 2015 issue is dedicated to new and powerful longitudinal datasets that are helping educational researchers better understand how policies, schools, and curricula are serving students.
Dynarski and coeditor Mark Berends (Notre Dame) explain that these longitudinal datasets have emerged in the last 10 to 15 years as an outcome of reporting mandates established by No Child Left Behind and federal stimulus grants. Access to these datasets is enabling valuable new studies that are teasing out the consequences of state- and district-level education initiatives.
Two essays in this issue show how these new data systems are allowing researchers to track state-level educational outcomes. Several essays describe evaluations of educational policies and interventions—including charter school performance, financial aid outcomes, and the impact of accelerated algebra on long-term student success—which were enabled by access to these longitudinal data sets.
Two prominently featured essays explore the challenges and opportunities presented by developing research consortia that include academics, policymakers, and practitioners—which are complex to establish and manage, but yield highly useful results.
“As this issue demonstrates, research partnerships require a heavy investment of time and resources but also have the potential to inform research, policy, and practice,” write Dynarski and Berends. “We hope this volume inspires more academics and educators to step up to this challenge.”
Susan Dynarski is a professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and a professor of education at the University of Michigan's School of Education. She is co-founder and co-director of the Ford School’s Education Policy Initiative, which engages in applied, policy-relevant research designed to improve overall educational achievement and outcomes.