USC EdPolicy Hub

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Public education in Southern California and across the nation faces a daunting array of challenges: longstanding structural inequities, declining enrollments, staffing shortages, funding shortfalls, political conflicts, and the ongoing effects of the pandemic on student academics and mental health. The challenges are often systemic, with causes and consequences crossing school systems and other boundaries, and disproportionately affecting minoritized and low-income communities.

The USC EdPolicy Hub collaborates with schools, education systems, and community colleges throughout Southern California to conduct rigorous, actionable, boundary-spanning research. Research results—shared with language and formats geared for practitioners and policymakers—inform decisions for educators, policymakers, and families, ultimately improving student outcomes.


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For more information, read the USC EdPolicy Hub Summary.


Why USC?

The Hub is based at the USC Rossier School of Education as part of Dean Pedro Noguera’s Educational Equity Initiative. USC Rossier has an unparalleled network of graduates working as district leaders across Southern California. From our USC Rossier base, we will bring in expertise from across the university including the USC Price School of Public Policy, the Center for Applied Research in Education, and other research centers and researchers both within and beyond USC Rossier, ensuring that we can always match the appropriate expertise and methods to the problems at hand.   

USC Rossier has an unparalleled network of graduates working as district leaders in Southern California and across the state with whom we are collaborating to drive this work. This includes more than 80 superintendents who are active in the Dean’s Superintendent Advisory Group.

Who We Are?

Jon Fullerton is a Research Professor at USC Rossier. He has over twenty years’ experience in using data to guide system improvement and the effective use of financial resources in the education sector. Before coming to USC, Fullerton was the Executive Director of the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University.  While at CEPR, he founded the Strategic Data Project (SDP) which places and trains analytic data fellows across the PK12 and postsecondary sectors. Fullerton has also served as the Board of Education’s Director of Budget and Financial Policy for the Los Angeles Unified School District and was Vice-President of Strategy, Evaluation, Research, and Policy at the Los Angeles Education Partnership.

Patricia Burch, is a Professor of Education at USC Rossier with over twenty-five years of experience studying educational reforms. She works in partnership with local, state and Federal policy makers to understand contemporary controversies and practical dilemmas in advancing educational equity. She is the author of numerous articles on these topics including (with Carolyn Heinrich) the 2016 Mixed Methods for Policy Research and Program Evaluation.

Morgan Polikoff is an Associate Professor of Education at USC Rossier. He studies curriculum, standards, accountability, and assessment policy and is the author of 2021’s Beyond Standards: The Fragmentation of Education Governance and the Promise of Curriculum Reform. He also investigates public opinion on education policy and families’ experiences in schools using state- and nationally-representative surveys, including USC’s Understanding America Study.

Anna Rosefsky Saavedra, is a Research Scientist and co-director of CARE. She is an applied education researcher with specialization in the areas of student-centered pedagogy, and civics education, as well as leading large, complex studies. She currently co-leads USC’s Understanding America Study education work with Dr. Polikoff. Her recent research prompted the College Board to change their teacher professional learning, curriculum, and/or exams to be more project-based in a third of their AP courses, with more changes forthcoming.

For more information, read these details about USC EdPolicy Hub Leadership.


Key lessons from research about project-based teaching and learning

High-quality materials, professional learning supports, and a schoolwide PBL culture are markers of successful PBL programs. See Anna Saavedra and Amie Rapaport’s article summarizing lessons learned through studying seven programs.

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teacher teaching kid

Many families don't know how much the pandemic harmed their child's learning; that's a problem

COVID recovery is not proceeding at the needed pace in California. Drawing from Understanding America Study education data, Morgan Polikoff and Anna Saavedra provide some thoughts on what to do in this EdSource article

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beyond test

Beyond test scores: Broader academic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on American students

Reviewing three years of literature, this report by Morgan Polikoff, Isabel Clay, and Daniel Silver synthesizes the non-test academic impacts of COVID on children. The report finds substantial harm and widening gaps in areas like attendance, course completion, and community college enrollment.

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The USC Rossier Center on Education Policy, Equity and Governance (CEPEG) is joining the USC EdPolicy Hub.