Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Grant will enable postdoctoral training program in public policy, education

A federal grant will fund a new postdoctoral training program at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and School of Education, providing fellows with rigorous training in the education research sciences.

The program will train five postdoctoral students, each for a two-year fellowship. The five-year, $687,000-grant from the U.S. Department of Education takes effect March 1.

"Smart policy rests on solid evidence. We are working with data from Michigan, as well as other states and school districts, to find out what works in education," says Susan Dynarski, associate professor of public policy, education and economics. "The training program will expand the community of researchers ready to do this important work."

Dynarski and Brian Jacob, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy, and professor of public policy, education and economics, serve as the principal investigators.

The training program will provide research experience in the areas of teacher quality; mathematics and science education; organization and management of schools and districts; education policy, finance and systems; education technology; and analysis of longitudinal data to support state and local education reform.

Fellows will receive mentorship from program faculty, attend courses and specialized training institutes on quantitative methods; and participate in seminars and workshops.  The fellows will have access to all existing courses at U-M during their training programs.

They also will collect, compile and analyze data; design surveys; participate in research planning; and present results at seminars and professional meetings. 

This new grant/program is an extension of a growing education policy focus in the Ford School. In the fall of 2007, Jacob launched the Education Policy Initiative (EPI) at the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, of which he is director.

EPI has included public events regarding the latest academic research on education reform; research conferences for policymakers, practitioners and academics; research projects; and now a new education research consortium with U-M, MSU, and the state of Michigan: the Michigan Consortium for Education Research.

Other faculty members affiliated with the new program are: David Harding, associate professor of public policy and sociology; Isaac McFarlin, research fellow at the Ford School; Kevin Stange, assistant professor of public policy; Steve DesJardins, professor of education; Brian McCall, professor of education, public policy and economics; John Bound, George E. Johnson Collegiate Professor of Economics; Jeffrey Smith, professor of economics; and Ben Hansen, associate professor of statistics.