From Theory to Practice

American University News

In summer 2017, students in American University’s
Education Policy and Leadership (EPL) program helped education organizations across DC make progress on significant policy issues, such as teacher retention, school enrollment processes, and state accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). These structured field experiences through the EPL Proseminar course are an important part of preparing the next generation of outstanding education leaders.
In this second year of the field projects, the EPL program partnered with six new education organizations: the Center for American Progress (CAP), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Education Forward DC, Education Trust, My School DC, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). All of these organizations asked the EPL students to examine specific education challenges and recommend creative solutions to those challenges.
The projects were designed with the organizations to meet their real needs. “Our students move the needle on a significant policy need, conducting important research and presenting evidence-based findings that the organizations put into practice,” said
EPL Director Jason Snyder. “For example, this past summer a group of our students used survey research on teacher retention to make insightful recommendations to the DC Deputy Mayor for Education’s office.”
One EPL student, Grace Ratner, and her teammates completed a project for Education Trust, a national nonprofit led by former Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. that focuses on education equity. Grace and her teammates investigated how states have addressed alternative schools in their ESSA accountability plans. Grace explained, “It was useful for me to get a sense of the types of projects that education firms complete.”
Grace and her classmates also attended many of the presentations to the organizations’ senior leaders and had the opportunity to discuss policy issues with those leaders. “By attending other students’ presentations,” Grace noted, “I got to meet and learn from a range of …

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