Reviews of the Obama Administration's Six Research Summaries for "A Blueprint for Reform"

As Congress and the Obama administration prepare to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), high-quality research is not informing the process. In May of 2010, the U.S. Department of Education released six research summaries in support of its “Blueprint for Reform” – its proposals for ESEA reauthorization. NEPC asked experts in each of the six areas to review these research summaries, and those reviews find that the research cited by the Department does not provide solid support for its proposals.

As Congress and the Obama administration prepare to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), high-quality research is not informing the process. In May of 2010, the U.S. Department of Education released six research summaries in support of its “Blueprint for Reform” – its proposals for ESEA reauthorization. NEPC asked experts in each of the six areas to review these research summaries, and those reviews find that the research cited by the Department does not provide solid support for its proposals.
 
Among the consistent findings were the following:
• The research cited was of inadequate quality;
• Key omissions, such as the Blueprint’s accountability system and the rationale for competitive grants, as well as an undeveloped explanation and support for intervention models – despite these being centerpieces of the administration’s education reform efforts;
• A focus on problems, as opposed to providing research to support the Blueprint’s proposed solutions;
• Extensive use of non-research and advocacy sources to justify policy recommendations; and
• An overwhelming reliance, with little or no research justification, on standardized test scores as a measure of student learning and school success.
 
The reviews, as well as an introduction, are as follows – please click through to find each review:
Introduction: Assessing the Research Base for "A Blueprint for Reform,” by William J. Mathis and Kevin G. Welner
Review of “College- and Career Ready Students,” by Diane Ravitch and William J. Mathis
Review of “A Complete Education,” by Beth Warren
Review of “Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students,” by Gene V Glass, W. Steven Barnett, and Kevin G. Welner
 
This collection of reviews is also available in book form: The Obama Education Blueprint: Researchers Examine the Evidence.