We all know that connecting research and policy is crucial, but research is unlikely to have much impact if policymakers don’t know what empirical evidence is out there. Conversely, if researchers are not aware of the needs of policymakers, then their research is less likely to be relevant.
To promote evidence-based policymaking, the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research has established the CALDER Policymakers’ Council, a network of policy professionals to help CALDER ensure that its research is closely aligned to policymaker needs. As part of this initiative, CALDER launched a new website to facilitate connections among researchers, policymakers and practitioners. The website offers two distinct resources:
- Policy briefs that succinctly convey research findings (on topics like teacher quality, teacher labor markets, etc.).
- A rapid-response Q&A forum to engage researchers, practitioners and policymakers or anyone interested in education research.
The value of short policy briefs is probably self-evident, but I want to take a few moments to highlight why we created the rapid response Q&A forum. CALDER researchers and staff frequently answer questions from policy professionals, such as those on the CALDER Policymakers Council, about available research on a variety of education topics. We realized that this one-on-one interaction could be made more valuable if we could provide a wider audience the benefit of observing these interactions and the opportunity to ask questions or weigh in themselves. We created the Q&A forum as a public platform for researchers, policymakers and practitioners to get quick (we hope for a 24-hour turnaround) and informal responses from CALDER to questions pertaining to education-related academic research, such as:
- What are the three seminal papers I ought to look at on the effects of charter schools?
- Who would you suggest I talk with about promising features of teacher preparation?
- What does the evidence suggest about the magnitude of teacher effectiveness growth in the first five years of a teacher’s career?
The Q&A forum is meant to serve as a complement to existing efforts — such as the Education Commission of the States’ information request service, which provides quick-turnaround staff responses from a state policy perspective; or the Institute of Education Sciences’ Regional Educational Laboratory’s Ask a REL service, which provides a thorough research response on a longer timeframe. Since CALDER’s Q&A forum is delivered on an open, public discussion format, it also allows for people beyond the CALDER staff to weigh in on any topic or question.
Do you have education research-related questions you are itching to get quick answers to? Ask away on CALDER’s Policymakers Council Q&A Forum.