In Evidence, Politics, and Education Policy, political scientists Lorraine M. McDonnell and M. Stephen Weatherford provide an original analysis of evidence use in education policymaking to help scholars and advocates shape policy more effectively. The book shows how multiple types of evidence are combined as elected officials and their staffs work with researchers, advocates, policy entrepreneurs, and intermediary organizations to develop, create, and implement education policies.
Evidence, Politics, and Education Policy offers an in-depth understanding of the political environment in which evidence is solicited and used. Two key case studies inform the book’s findings. The primary case—a major, multimethod study—examines the development and early implementation of the Common Core State Standards at the national level and in four states: California, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. A comparative case analyzes the evidence used in Congressional hearings over the twenty-year history of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Together, the two cases illustrate the conditions under which different types of evidence are used and, in particular, how federalism, the complexity of the policy problem, and the policy’s maturity shape evidence use.
McDonnell and Weatherford focus on three leverage points for strengthening the use of research evidence in education policy: integrating research findings with value-based policy ideas; designing policies with incentives for research use built into their rules and organizational structures; and training policy analysts to promote the use of research in policymaking venues.