May 2016

A blueprint for breakthroughs: Federally funded education research in 2016 and beyond

In a white paper for the Clayton Christensen Institute, Michael and coauthor Julia Freeland Fisher lay out a new research agenda to support the move to an effective student-centered education system.

An effective research agenda moves beyond merely identifying correlations of what works on average to articulate and test theories about how and why certain educational interventions work in different circumstances for different students. To do this, the federal government will need to:

Focus on the individual, not the average

  • Encourage research that pushes our understanding beyond the average student and instead works to discover predictably effective paths for each student.
  • Take advantage of technology-enabled structural shifts to study what works for specific students in specific circumstances.
  • Fund efforts that make data collection more seamless and less arduous on districts in order to allow schools and researchers to collect better, more real-time data on what is actually happening in schools.
  • Support research that progresses past initial randomized controlled trials, or RCTs, and promotes alternative methods for unearthing what drives student outcomes in different circumstances.


Leave a reply