- K-12 Education
- Higher Education
- Who We Are
Education Sector is an independent think tank that challenges conventional thinking in education policy. We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to achieving measurable impact in education policy, both by improving existing reform initiatives and by developing new, innovative solutions to our nation's most pressing education problems.
The ultimate beneficiaries of our work are students. Our mission is to promote changes in policy and practice that lead to improved student opportunities and outcomes. To pursue this mission, we combine our written work—including research reports, policy analyses, smaller complementary products such as "Charts You Can Trust," and op-eds in national news publications—with a multi-dimensional communications strategy. This combination of research and analysis with strategic communications creates numerous opportunities to present our policy proposals in testimony, hearings, legislative briefings, and a wide range of exchanges with policymakers and policy influencers.
The immediate audiences for our work include federal, state, and local policymakers; national, state and local education associations; educators; the press; public policy organizations; and other thought leaders and policy actors. Our experience shows that these leaders embrace reform when it is justified by thoughtful analysis and solid, independent evidence.
Most of the organizations that come to mind when one says "education policy" either conduct research, represent constituents' interests, or advocate fixed policy agendas. Too often the research is written in language that's hard for policymakers to understand, and thus they don't use a lot of it. And much of the work produced by membership organizations and traditional education advocacy groups is less than objective.
This lack of credibility and clarity in research and analysis hurts the cause of education improvement: policymakers make important decisions on the basis of biased information; good ideas don't reach the people with the power to implement them; and it becomes harder to create and sustain an intellectual climate that supports reform.
Education Sector was designed to address these problems. Since our founding in 2005 (we launched publically in January 2006), Education Sector has established our expertise in key issue areas—including educational choice, human capital, K–12 accountability, and higher education—and gained credibility as an independent leader in the field. Our co-founders, Andrew J. Rotherham and Thomas Toch, envisioned a hybrid institution, formed at the intersection of public policy, research, and journalism. We believe that by marrying the methodological rigor of sound research with the communications excellence of the best journalism and the real-world impact of policy analysis, Education Sector is uniquely positioned to both make a compelling case for fundamental reform and to promote change directly with policymakers. For a fuller explanation of our hybrid model and its consequences for our operations, and to read our values statement, see The ES Way and What We Believe.
Now with a proven track record for producing high-quality research and analysis in each of these areas, Education Sector has further coordinated our K–12 strategies, and we have expanded our higher education work to reflect new opportunities for impact.
Education Sector is unique in our focus on both K–12 and higher education. Many educational issues transcend the boundaries of K–12 and higher education. The need for data systems that generate better, clearer, and more accessible information to improve teaching and learning is as important in higher education as it is in K–12 schools. Similarly, the theme of informed educational options is present in both our K–12 and higher education work.
We also recognize that there are emerging policy debates and research topics that lend themselves particularly well to Education Sector analysis but that are outside of our planned program of work. We have reserved about 15 percent of our organizational capacity to respond to them. These projects present significant opportunities to improve student opportunities and outcomes.