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Education Policy Center

About the Education Policy Center

Once largely the prerogative of the local school board, education policy has become a vital policy issue to decision-makers both at the state and national levels. The traditional economic base of our nation is being reshaped by technological change and global competition, while the number of workers relative to older residents is steadily declining. As a result, the economic future of our state and our nation increasingly depends on a strong education system and a well-educated workforce. The federal No Child Left Behind Act and recent state grade level standards and high school graduation requirements present local schools and school districts with unprecedented opportunities and challenges to improve student and school performances. They also mark a fundamental shift in the relationship between local, state and federal education agencies. More than ever before, policy makers need timely, non-partisan information and analysis on education issues.

To meet the need for information and analysis, to capitalize on the University's role in education policy development and to deepen education policy debate in Michigan and the nation, in June 2000 the Board of Trustees established the Education Policy Center (EPC) at Michigan State University (MSU). Administratively housed in the College of Education, the Education Policy Center actively recruits the participation of faculty with related interests and expertise from other colleges within the university as well as other experts from across the country and around the world. The EPC builds upon the solid foundation of MSU's land-grant mission and the College of Education's national and international reputation for education policy research in its mission to support and inform policy debates at every level of government. The Center's outreach activities aim at improving the quality of education for students at all levels of the state and nation's education systems, from early childhood through post-secondary education.


Policy Debate and Development

The Education Policy Center's first priority is to provide non-partisan policy research and analysis on current educational issues to policy makers in the legislative and executive branches of state and federal governments. To do this, the center has assumed three key roles in the educational policy system.

First, the EPC serves as a repository for current and reliable information about educational systems within state, national and international contexts. Staff within the center work to compile, clean, manage, and analyze education data, in support of independent policy analysis and policy research, in order to provide a variety of policy audiences with reliable and "user-friendly" data.

Second, the Education Policy Center has established itself as a trusted source for research reports, policy briefings, and expert testimony on educational policy issues, for audiences in state government and beyond. The Center has the capacity to respond to requests for information in timely and readily accessible ways, and has developed a reputation for responsiveness, reliability, credibility, and non-partisanship among key audiences.

Third, the Education Policy Center develops and supports initiatives that help officials and citizens in Michigan and elsewhere to identify emerging policy issues, to analyze the educational policy issues before them, to participate in debate on those issues, and to make informed policy choices. The Center's activities include public issue forums and the publication and distribution of research briefs for legislators and other public officials. In addition, the Center engages the media to help disseminate research findings, inform ongoing policy debates, and raise public awareness of key education issues. The Center's web site provides access to research and other resources at Michigan State and elsewhere that is of use to policy makers and other audiences.

Operation of the Center

The Education Policy Center works closely with the Office for K-12 Outreach in the College of Education, relying on the Office to organize and manage the dissemination of the Center's products and outreach activities. The Center's staff includes two co-directors, a senior scholar, administrative and student support, graduate research assistants and writers assigned to develop reports and other products that are useful and accessible to the center's many audiences.

The Center also provides administrative and other support for research by MSU faculty that is funded by external agencies and which advances the Center's mission. Support provided by the Center includes help in the development of grant proposals, and assistance with the writing, publication, and dissemination of working papers, policy briefs, and reports based on faculty research.