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Education researchers explain themselves in a new feature

Education research is supposed to inform education policy, but it’s not always the case.

Sometimes the policy agenda isn’t supported by research. But sometimes researchers haven’t asserted themselves. Education research can be difficult to find — hidden away in academic journals or unpublished dissertations. Even when it’s available, it is often presented in technical language that is perfect for academia but ill-equipped to inform public dialogue.

A new feature on GothamSchools, which we’re calling “Useable Knowledge,” aims to change that situation. In the series, researchers will present not only their research and findings but also policy implications that could inform education policy locally and elsewhere. They’ll also seed future research by outlining the questions that their studies raised. And they will solicit and answer questions from readers about just what is known and what isn’t about each research topic.

The first contributors to Useable Knowledge are Janice Bloom and Lori Chajet, two former city high school teachers who as CUNY Graduate Center students set out to investigate the impact of social class (Bloom) and small school environments (Chajet) on students’ college decisions and experiences.

Their main policy takeaway:

If the New York City Department of Education is going to hold schools accountable for their college-going outcomes (as it is now doing on school report cards), they need to dedicate sufficient resources to making this possible. This means vastly increasing the resources for hiring and training college counselors in schools, providing resources to help students visit college campuses and take part in programs on these campuses, as well as training teachers and providing curriculum to high schools to do work with students about college-going, beginning in middle school.

Read Bloom and Chajet’s complete research report in the Community section, then leave a comment to ask them about their work. Future Useable Knowledge contributors will cover research topics as varied as gentrification, principal accountability, and data-driven instruction.

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