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Donald Peurach and U-M team publish essay examining policy contexts of improvement research in education

August 18, 2021

The Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) released a working paper from Donald Peurach, Anna T. Foster, Angela M. Lyle, and Emily R. Seeber. Titled “Democratizing Educational Innovation and Improvement: The Policy Contexts of Improvement Research in Education,” the essay examines the historical and contemporary policy contexts of improvement research in education to gain perspective on current efforts to democratize disciplined approaches to educational innovation and improvement. This is a pre-publication leading up to Peurach’s chapter in The Foundational Handbook on Improvement Research in Education, due to release sometime in Winter 2022.


Improvement research is gaining currency in the US and around the world, as researchers and local education enterprises collaborate to advance educational opportunities and outcomes in response both to longstanding policy pressures and immediate turbulence.

The analysis has Peurach and colleagues calling for a new discourse about improvement research in education: “Contemporary discourse is often skeptical, with the improvement movement subordinated to a hegemonic evidence movement in macro-level policy contexts and judged as sub-standard in an academy that has long privileged scientific over practical knowledge. The counter-discourse is often defensive, aimed at de-legitimizing and arguing away the status quo to claim its place. By contrast, our analysis suggests the need for a shared discourse that considers efforts to democratize disciplined approaches to educational innovation and improvement as potentially integral to the continuing evolution of US public education in pursuit of its most fundamental ambitions, within its bedrock architecture, at a moment of urgency and opportunity.” 

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Professor, Marsal Family School of Education