The Center for Education Policy Research is a unique partnership among districts, states, foundations, and university-based researchers designed to leverage the overwhelming amount of newly available school-, teacher-, and student-level data to address previously intractable policy questions in education and improve educational outcomes for all students.


Today is a moment of great promise in American education. Pockets of innovation are forming across the country, yet the true breakthroughs are hard to distinguish from the false claims. To recognize the difference, the current exuberance must be matched with an equal focus on evidence. In recent years, taxpayers have invested hundreds of millions on education data systems. However, because public agencies are not positioned (or staffed) to evaluate their own programs, these data are an under-used national resource.

By deploying two of its greatest assets—analytic talent and national credibility—Harvard has an irreplaceable role to play in K–12 education reform. The Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) is building a network of relationships with school leaders around the country and engaging the best minds in social science to learn what’s working—and what’s not.

In the coming years, CEPR researchers plan to take on a new set of questions, such as:

  • Which innovative technologies can best engage students and raise achievement? (And how should schools be reorganized to implement these innovations efficiently?)
  • Can technology allow schools to assess students’ conceptual understanding and open-ended problem-solving skills in less costly and more timely ways?
  • What combination of feedback and support using digital video will allow teachers to improve their practice?

At the traditional pace of educational research, progress on these questions would take decades. A concerted, coordinated effort, however, can dramatically accelerate progress.