Education Issues

This page offers an easy way for policymakers to access education research and analysis that is relevant to current Congressional agendas. For additional information, to request documents, or to arrange a briefing, contact the RAND Office of Congressional Relations at or (703) 413-1100 x5395.

Recent Findings

  • Commentary

    What's Behind Record High School Graduation Rates?

    Oct 21, 2016

    Graduation rates among U.S. high schoolers have risen for the fourth straight year. Which reforms are making a difference? And who, or what, should get credit?

  • Content

    Louisiana Teachers Think About and Implement State Standards

    Oct 13, 2016

    State education leaders' efforts to align instruction with standards appear to be making a difference. Louisiana teachers regularly consult classroom resources that address state standards, and are teaching in ways that differ from the norms in other states.

  • Essay

    Election 2016: The Domestic Issues

    Oct 3, 2016

    RAND offers a unique take on the big domestic issues facing America: research that is independent, reliable, and rigorously nonpartisan.

  • Commentary

    Free School Meals Are Still the Best Measure of Deprivation

    Sep 26, 2016

    Free school meal eligibility is not a perfect measure of student disadvantage, but it's the best there is. Other measures, such as parental education or neighborhood deprivation have also been used, but they are not as good at determining which schools are most in need.

  • Commentary

    Students Shouldn't Lose Sleep Over the Liberty Bridge Fire

    Sep 21, 2016

    The fire and resulting closure of the Liberty Bridge is forcing some Pittsburgh high school students to sacrifice sleep to meet a new 7:11 a.m. start time. Sleep loss has consequences for adolescents' minds, bodies, behavior, and for public safety.


  • Reauthorizing ESEA: Key Issues and Federal Oversight Are Up for Debate

    Feb 18, 2015

    This might be the year that Congress reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary School Act. However, debate continues over some of the law's key components and the appropriate federal role in annual assessments, state accountability, and teaching effectiveness.

  • Improving Student Achievement Through Education Technology

    Jun 20, 2013

    RAND senior scientist John Pane will participate in a panel hosted by Carnegie Learning to discuss a large-scale randomized study of the blended learning algebra curriculum designed by Carnegie Learning, tracking the progress of more than 19,000 students in 147 schools in seven states.

  • Maintaining Accountability and Nurturing Innovation through a Reauthorized ESEA

    May 22, 2012

    In this panel briefing RAND researchers discuss the possible reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—how it will require several critical decisions about standards, assessments, reporting requirements, and school improvement initiatives.

  • Performance-Based Accountability for Public Services

    Aug 9, 2010

    Brian Stecher presents evidence about the effectiveness of performance-based accountability systems in five sectors—child care, education, health care, public health emergency preparedness, and transportation—and provides recommendations about how to improve the effectiveness of such systems.

  • The Effects of NYC's 5th-Grade Promotion Policy

    Oct 18, 2009

    Policy analyst Jennifer McCombs and statistician Lou Mariano will discuss the findings of their evaluation of the New York City Department of Education's 5th-grade promotion policy.

  • Panel Discussion on No Child Left Behind

    Jan 9, 2008

    RAND will host a panel discussion on No Child Left Behind (NCLB): What Do We Know, and What Does It Tell Us? on January 9. Panelists include John Deasy, Michelle Rhee, Laura Hamilton, Brian Stecher, and Georges Vernez.

Alerts & Newsletters

RAND periodically sends alerts and newsletters to update Congress on highlights of recent work about education.

  • Inside the Opt-Out Movement

    May 23, 2016

    For several years, parents across the country have resisted standardized tests by opting out for their kids. This decision, however, may have social consequences that reach far beyond the quality of an individual child's school-based experiences.

  • Test Smarter: Recommendations for Improving Standardized Testing

    Nov 17, 2015

    The Department of Education's recently released Testing Action Plan recommends that statewide testing be limited to no more than two percent of instructional time, but the amount of testing isn't the only consideration: Policymakers should also examine the usefulness and purpose of testing.

  • Reauthorizing ESEA: Four Key Issues for Lawmakers

    Jun 17, 2015

    As lawmakers consider reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (better known as No Child Left Behind), they should carefully consider four key issues: testing requirements, school improvement, teaching effectiveness, and innovation.

  • Education Issues in the New Congress

    Feb 24, 2015

    The list of education issues for the new Congress is long, but RAND research on No Child Left Behind, tests and testing, teachers and teaching effectiveness, early childhood and postsecondary education, and summer learning can provide insight for decisionmakers.

  • Competency-Based Education: A New Direction

    Nov 18, 2014

    A RAND evaluation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Project Mastery grant program, which supports competency-based education initiatives in school systems and schools, contains lessons for policy, partnerships, and practice.

  • Putting the Brakes on Summer Break Losses

    Jun 27, 2014

    RAND research provides insight into how to fund and structure summer learning programs that will generate the greatest value on an investment intended to help students avoid losing ground in their academic performance over summer breaks.

  • How to Assess 21st Century Competencies

    Jun 2, 2014

    Parents, educators, employers, and policymakers agree that students need to learn critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and creativity, but these skills are difficult to teach and learn. RAND researchers identify key lessons from assessments of these “21st century competencies.”

  •'s Redesign: New Homepage and Navigation Optimization for All Devices

    Mar 20, 2014 has been reimagined to make high quality research and insights more accessible to Hill staff like you. The new homepage and updated navigation optimize content delivery for your preferred device and place our most timely content at your fingertips.

  • The Cost of Higher Education: The Big Picture

    Jul 26, 2013

    The rapidly increasing cost of college tuition has left policymakers searching for ways to reduce the economic burden students face, with the recent debate over the interest rate for Stafford loans further highlighting the problems posed by increased college costs.

  • High-Quality Early Childhood Programs Require High-Quality Teachers

    Apr 8, 2013

    While high-quality early childhood programs can have a dramatic effect on academic achievement and childhood development, federal policymakers must be careful not to expand early childhood education programs faster than an adequate number of qualified teachers can be prepared, credentialed, and recruited.

  • Performance-Based Incentives for School Principals

    Oct 18, 2012

    In 2007, the Pittsburgh Public Schools implemented reforms to improve school leadership in the district, which included the Pittsburgh Principal Incentive Program (PPIP). PPIP provides principals with capacity-building interventions: professional development focused on leadership, feedback and coaching from their supervisors, and bonuses.

  • Looking Beyond the 2012 U.S. Election

    Oct 3, 2012

    As the U.S. presidential election draws to a close, there is increasing demand for simple answers to complex questions, immediate solutions to entrenched challenges, and ten-second sound bites to sum it all up. RAND has always focused on big, long-term, core public policy issues and has cultivated the farsighted perspectives required to address those issues.

  • Is Inclusionary Zoning Inclusionary?

    Jul 9, 2012

    Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) policies require that a proportion of units in market-rate residential developments are made affordable to lower-income households in exchange for development rights or zoning variances. IZ programs provide greater access to low-poverty neighborhoods, which are often correlated with high-performing schools.

  • Can Summer Learning Programs Prevent Skill and Knowledge Loss?

    Jun 21, 2012

    When kids go on summer vacation, their knowledge and skills suffer, with their performance dropping off, on average, one month from where they were when they left school in the spring. Such losses do not affect all kids equally, having the greatest effect on low-income students.

  • Pay-for-Performance: What Are We Learning?

    Jun 1, 2012

    One proposal to improve teacher effectiveness--and, by extension, student achievement--is to shift from a uniform teacher salary schedule to a pay-for-performance (P4P) system, which would attach financial rewards to student achievement on standardized tests. But is P4P effective in this domain?

  • Why Are For-Profit Colleges Appealing to Veterans?

    Mar 8, 2012

    As veterans return home from combat and take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill, many have turned to for-profit colleges because of the schools' unique ability to meet their needs.

  • NCLB Ten Years Out: A Continuing Policy Debate

    Jan 31, 2012

    This month marks the 10th anniversary of the signing of NCLB. As Congress considers the future direction of federal education policy, the RAND Corporation continues to further the policy debate in this area through its extensive research on the Act's effects.

  • Senior Staff SOTU Debrief from RAND Corporation

    Jan 25, 2012

    We've assembled a selection of RAND reports, journal articles, commentary, videos, and experts on these SOTU topics that provide you with analysis, insights, and ideas you can use in the months ahead.

  • State of the Union Policy Preview

    Jan 23, 2012

    Preparing for the State of the Union (SOTU) address? Here is a preview of topics the President may cover along with helpful links to related RAND analyses, reports, and commentary.


2006 and prior

August 1, 2006
Assessing the Effectiveness of California Charter Schools

Richard Buddin

Testimony presented to the California Select Committee on the Master Plan for Education.

June 23, 2005
Developing Process Indicators to Improve Educational Governance: Lessons for Education from Health Care

Brian M. Stecher

Testimony presented to the California Little Hoover Commission.

April 24, 2002
Benefits of a Statewide Student Identifier System for California

Laura S. Hamilton

Testimony presented before the California State Senate Education Committee.

June 1, 2001
School Violence Prevention

Jaana Juvonen

Testimony presented to the California State Assembly Select Committee on School Safety.

January 29, 1999
Elements of a National Strategy to Foster Effective Use of Technology in Elementary and Secondary Education

Thomas K. Glennan, Jr.

Testimony presented to the Education Task Force, Budget Committee, U.S. House of Representatives.