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Influential Research Studies

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The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, with support from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, has conducted a study of the factors that have influenced the educational policy landscape during the past decade. The studies ranking in the highest tier of influence—the "short list"—prove to be quite different from one another in a variety of ways. Some nominees conform to a conventional understanding of a study, as a relatively discrete work taking the form of a clearly identifiable core product like a report, monograph, or commission proceedings.

When all the votes were tallied, the National Assessment of Educational Progress rose to the top of the field with an overall Influence Index value of 100 points. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study ranked second in all three of the study's influence categories. Accordingly, TIMSS also earns the second-highest overall influence index value, with a score of 52 points. Ranked third is the National Reading Panel's Teaching Children to Read, which fared relatively well on expert ratings and journal citations.

A large portion of the studies, almost half of the leading group, are tightly clustered with scores between 28 and 31 points. In particular, this intermediate influence band is heavily populated by the commission reports that made the short list—Preventing Reading Difficulties, What Matters Most, and How People Learn. Project STAR, William Sanders' research on value-added methodology, and the Education Trust's work on teacher quality also appear in this range. The four remaining studies fall in a final cluster that captures strands of work by individual researchers (Elmore, Greene, and Peterson) and the American Diploma Project's 2004 study Ready or Not.


The ranking of influential research studies:

(Click on an item to download an individual influence report in PDF format; a new window will open.)
Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader



1. NAEP


2. Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)


3. Teaching Children To Read


4. Tennessee Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR)


5. (tie) Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children

5. (tie) William L. Sanders on value-added methodology and the Tennessee Value-Added Accountability System


7. (tie) Education Trust on teacher quality

7. (tie) How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School
7. (tie) What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future


10. Richard F. Elmore on school reform


11. Jay P. Greene on high school graduation rates


12. (tie) Paul E. Peterson on school choice and vouchers

12. (tie) Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma that Counts


Do you agree? Disagree? Please share your thoughts.

1 Comment

I was saddened for Dr. Nicholas Colangelo,
University of Iowa, and our nation that the previously named professor failed to make the list
of influential persons. He, along with Susan Assouline and Miraca Gross, compiled what is likely to be considered the landmark release of 50 years in gifted education with A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students in 2004. This compilation of research provides compelling evidence of the
tragic waste of human potential when schools in
our country fail to utilize accelerative options with advanced learners. I believe it will be even more profound in the future as we find a scarcity of what had once been our best minds as the nation focuses on basic proficiency as its goal, leaving excellence out of the mix.
Perhaps the benefit to politicians and the educators responsible for educating these children
at grade level (via money rewards and reputations) interferes with the widespread
familiarity of this important work. It is available on your computer at no charge.

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