Research dating back to the original “Coleman Report” shows that students’ backgrounds and home environments play an outsized role in influencing their learning. While true, more recently we have learned that schools, and good teachers in particular, are vitally important as well. Several years of exposure to high quality schooling can make a profound difference for all students and, in particular, can make up for educational achievement gaps that often exist between advantaged and disadvantaged students. But while we know schools and teachers can make a difference, many observers of public education would conclude that U.S. schools continually fail to adopt policies and practices that lead to systematic improvements in student achievement, despite substantial increases in resources.

One of the reasons we have not seen dramatic increases in educational productivity is that there are simply no obvious ‘silver bullet’ policies when it comes to educating children. This is not for lack of trying new approaches, as teachers and school administrators readily recognize the term “reform de jour.” But successful programs and educational approaches are not always easily replicable or brought to scale. All this suggests that educational gains must be based on incremental improvements to policy and practice based on good evidence of what works, with an eye not toward any single end solution but rather the constant search over time for continuous improvement. CEDR’s mission is to conduct high quality independent research that advances the state of knowledge in education and aids policymakers in decision-making so as to improve educational outcomes for all students. The ultimate goal is to help move the education enterprise toward being a continuously evolving system where learning from policy variation and adjusting policies based on what is learned is the norm, not the exception.

The nation needs greater capacity to conduct high-quality, policy-relevant research that will yield findings that can be used to make smart investments in its youth. The Center for Education Data and Research (CEDR) addresses this need through a focused program of study on the complex relationships between education and social service policies or practices and key education outcomes. Outcomes-based research, particularly student outcomes, is a hallmark of CEDR’s work.

CEDR’s research is concentrated within three broad areas:

  1. School and teacher effectiveness.

  2. Educational accountability and governance.

  3. Teacher labor markets.