K-12 Educational Policy

About the K-12 Education Policy Concentration at USC Rossier

At the leading edge of education policy research and reform are our faculty in the K-12 Education Policy concentration, where their work informs local, state and national legislation and helps shape education policy and practice around the country and beyond. Our faculty combines some of the nation’s leading K-12 policy scholars working on school finance, governance and reform, with distinguished educational leaders who have themselves led major school districts and other institutions. This unique blend of research and clinical faculty, who work together in developing programs designed to help graduates make a difference in urban education.


Faculty in the K-12 Education Policy concentration specialize in studying charter school operation and performance, teacher compensation, public school finance, curriculum reform, urban school reform, school leadership, and educational entrepreneurship. Our faculty are interested in a wide array of questions including the effects of reforms on outcomes, as well as the processes of policymaking and organizational change. In order to address these questions, our faculty use both qualitative and quantitative methods, drawing on their backgrounds in economics, political science, sociology and policy analysis.


Some of the research conducted by faculty who specialize in K-12 issues falls within the Center on Educational Governance (CEG), which produces research, products and services that inform policy and improve K-12 education nationally. The Center developed a Web site to assist charter schools with finance and governance through the National Resource Center on Charter School Finance and Governance; created widely used Stakeholder Satisfaction Surveys to assess the organizational performance from the perspective of staff, parents and students; and produces an annual Charter School Indicators report that compares the performance of California charter schools to non-charter public schools and to one another. In partnership with the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), Rossier faculty have led education policy conferences at USC, seminars in Sacramento, and congressional policy briefings in Washington, D.C.


Tenure Track

Our tenure track faculty in the K-12 area have served in leadership positions in the American Educational Research Association, American Education Finance Association, the National Center on Education and the Economy, Educations Industry Association, WestEd Regional Laboratory, and EdSource. They have edited and served on the editorial boards of major education policy journals, such as the Journal of Educational Leadership and Management, Education and Urban Policy, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Journal of Educational Finance and Policy, Educational Researcher, Economics of Education Review, and Educational Policy, Journal of School Choice, and participated in national panels, such as the IES Systems and Reform Review Panel, the American Enterprise Institute Future of American Education Advisory Group, and the National Research Advisory Panel for the National Charter School Authorizer Association.


Our clinical faculty in the K-12 concentration have run major urban school districts where they have led dramatic change and implemented transformative measures to improve student achievement. Dr. Rudy Castruita served as the San Diego County Superintendent of Schools for 12 years and was Superintendent of the Santa Ana Unified School District prior to that. His success in school reform efforts in low-wealth districts has earned him numerous accolades, including California’s Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Rudolph (Rudy) Crew served as Chancellor of the nation’s largest school district, the New York City Department of Education, where he served from 1995-99 and led a number of reforms. He was also Superintendent of the nation’s fourth-largest school district in Miami-Dade County, Florida since 2004, where he raised student achievement levels, increased academic and conduct standards, and radically reduced overcrowding. Dr. Pedro Garcia served as Superintendent for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, where his tenure was the second longest in the history of the district and the third longest tenured superintendent among urban superintendents in America.



K-12 faculty contribute to several programs within the school. The PhD program in Urban Education Policy blends expertise across the school in four core courses. The program allows for a focus in research that deals with policy and practice in K-12 education and the examination of influences and processes related to leadership, governance, finance, teaching and learning, and organizational change in K-12 settings.


The EdD program includes a focus on K-12 Leadership in Urban School Settings designed for current and prospective K-12 site and district administrators and/or those working with educational policy and practice at local, state and federal levels.