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A Think Twice Review of:

Measuring and Understanding Education Advocacy

Think Twice - Apr 16, 2015

Publisher/Think Tank - Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings

Author(s) - Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, David Stuit, Claire Graves, and Lauren Shaw

The report looked at the causal influence of organizations for and against education reform in Louisiana, Tennessee, and North Carolina. According to the report, findings indicated that coordination of advocacy groups strengthens their impact on the introduction of policy into the legislative arena, content of legislation, and the votes of members of the legislature. The report also found that the groups’ perceived influence closely tracked outcomes. The report utilized two methodological innovations to measure the impact of advocacy groups on education reform policy: (1) Surveys with Placebo (SwP); and (2) Critical Path Analysis (CPA).

Reviewer(s) - Robin Rogers, Queens College, CUNY Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin-Madison

An academic review of the report finds there is a gap between the evidence and the conclusions presented, however, the methods used in the report may be useful in education policy research. Regarding the overall merits of the report, Rogers and Goldrick-Rab state, “this report is useful primarily for understanding the perceptions of education advocacy groups’ influence and tactics in the three cases studied.” In their review, Rogers and Goldrick-Rab, find that SwP and CPA may be useful in education policy research, but the methods have limitations that are not acknowledged in the report. Additionally, the reviewers suggest the report is further limited because the research is a small case study, included a low response rate, and were based on advocacy groups’ self-reported tactics.