Guiding Principles

  1. Research is oriented around actionable policy issues. CEDR establishes and maintains close connections to those on the ground (such as school district officials, teachers, and the legislature) who understand and deal with the day-to-day operations of schools and the laws and regulations that govern them. Such connections also ensures that CEDR is aware of on-going policy debates and pending issues, and that the research is focused on truly pressing issues. Credible answers to questions often take considerable foresight and an in-depth understanding of the available data and data that might be collected. Close connections to policymakers and practitioners help build links from data and research to policy and practice. This in turn increases support for the data, research design and analyses that address ongoing policy issues aimed at continuously improving student outcomes. These connections provide an in-depth understanding of the time and effort needed to build assessments of various policy options and advance the goal of being part of an experimenting society.

  2. Research is independent and objective. CEDR strives to be an honest broker when presenting evidence on any given issue. While researchers cannot totally separate their own views from research findings, they can try to frame questions to clearly distinguish opinion and speculation from facts. This distinction is paramount in all of CEDR's work.

    Similarly, research requires funding, which is often received from foundations or organizations that have (or are perceived to have) a particular agenda. To distinguish CEDR from its funders and make sure its research is independent of funding source, CEDR does not accept funding that comes with strings attached, particularly those that entail editorial control or any limits to the dissemination of findings.

  3. Research meets high standards for scientific rigor. Just as independence and objectivity are essential for research to be seen as honest and credible, so too is research quality. Unfortunately, as was recently noted in Newsweek, the great majority of studies of interventions in education do not pass scientific muster. This discredits education research in general and acts to slow the movement toward a more productive school system. CEDR seeks to utilize the most rigorous analytic approaches to answering questions given available data. All CEDR research goes through a thorough vetting process to ensure that: (1) there is a strong connection between research design and the conclusions CEDR draws from findings, (2) appropriate limitations of findings and conclusions are spelled out, and (3) findings and conclusions of a more speculative nature are labeled as such.

  4. Research findings are made broadly accessible. The most sophisticated, elegant research in the world is ineffective if it is unavailable or incomprehensible to those in a position to take advantage of it. One of CEDR's central missions is to translate technical reports into policy briefs suggesting potential applications for research findings.

    These guiding principles underpin a unique organization that is independent of any state or federal agencies and thus can tackle politically contentious issues, be an honest broker, and play a critical-friend role to policymakers. It is the critical-friend role that may be CEDR's most important feature. It is clear that educational debates are often contentious because there are competing interests involved. CEDR's work is empirically–not ideologically–driven and designed to provide policymakers the empirical evidence that they need to make the right educational choices for children.