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Office of Planning and Research

2015-2017 Research Agenda

ESE’s goal is to prepare all students for success in the world that awaits them after high school. We are implementing five strategies aimed at reaching that goal:

  • Strengthening standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Developing all educators
  • Turning around the lowest performing schools and districts
  • Using data and technology to support teaching and learning
  • Supporting students’ social and emotional health

More information on the strategies and the specific programs and initiatives that support them is available at Commissioner's webpages.

ESE has defined a research agenda related to the agency’s goals and strategies Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document so that we can improve their implementation and measure their outcomes. Below we have listed our overarching research questions in each priority area. In addition, the agency is interested in identifying ways for districts to use their staff, time, and fiscal resources more effectively to accomplish these objectives, so we have identified this as a special topic of interest.

We welcome proposals from independent, non-partisan researchers interested in conducting work in these areas, particularly in those where we have an interest but no resource yet identified. Please contact Carrie Conaway with any questions.

  1. Success after high school

    • How should we measure college and career readiness?
    • What impacts do state policies and programs have on college and career readiness?

  2. Strengthen standards, curriculum, instruction, and assessment

    • How have districts progressed in terms of implementing the 2011 curriculum frameworks?
    • What supports are still needed for effective curriculum framework implementation?
    • What are the academic outcomes for special populations of students, and how can we strengthen them?
    • How can we improve state and local assessment practices?

  3. Develop all educators

    • How effective is the Massachusetts educator workforce?
    • Are our educator initiatives translating into increased educator effectiveness? What is the fields' perception of them, and are they implementing them with fidelity?
    • How valid are the tools we have developed to support increased educator effectiveness?
    • Do all students, and particularly high needs students, have equitable access to effective educators?
    • Which districts, schools, and preparation programs are doing the best job of implementing our initiatives?

  4. Turn around the lowest performing schools and districts

    • Are turnaround schools and districts improving student outcomes at a faster rate than other schools or districts?
    • What factors are correlated with successful turnaround? What role does the statewide system of support play in improving outcomes?

  5. Use data and technology to support teaching and learning

    • Which data and technology tools are districts using to support teaching and learning?
    • What impact do data and technology tools have on improving student outcomes?

  6. Support students’ social and emotional needs

    • Which social and emotional supports are effective in improving student outcomes?

Special topic: Resource use

  • How are staff, time, and fiscal resources distributed across districts, schools, classrooms, and students?
  • Are there differences in spending and staff assignment between schools in our largest districts, and if so, why? What additional data do we need to better answer this question?
  • What has been the fiscal impact of the opportunity for school districts to join the state’s Group Insurance Commission for health insurance?
  • What are current trends in in-district and out-of-district spending on special education? Contracted services? Transportation? What is the potential for cost savings? What additional data do we need to better answer this question?
  • How should return on investment be measured in an education context? Which state policies and programs have a high rate of return, and which do not?



Last Updated: August 10, 2015
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