Center for Research in Educational Policy

Mission Statement

The mission of the Center for Research in Educational Policy is to:
  • Implement a research agenda associated with educational policies and practices in the preK-12 public schools of Tennessee and the nation.
  • Provide a knowledge base for use by educational practitioners and policymakers.


The Center of Excellence in Teacher Education was established in 1984 at The University of Memphis (then Memphis State University) within the College of Education. Its mis- sion was to plan, implement and assess innovative teacher preparation programs. The unit was restructured in 1989 as the Center for Research in Educational Policy. Its revised mission was to address important issues and concerns associated with education in Tennessee and the nation.

Research Contributions

Research outcomes are intended to provide a knowledge base for educational practitio- ners and policy makers by describing the complexities of education and offering recom- mendations for action. Resulting conceptual frameworks should enable decisions to be made with greater insight and understanding. For example, center research has contrib- uted to Tennessee policy decisions regarding teacher preparation and licensure, school governance and site-based decision making and public school reforms. During the 1994- 95 school year, more than 200 schools located throughout the state were directly involved in center projects. Center research has also contributed to national discussion of issues such as school-based decision making, reform of teacher education, educational equity, educational technology, school restructuring, urban and multicultural education and interventions for at-risk students.

The majority of center projects are designed to address the needs and concerns of Tennes- see schools and universities. Examples include an annual survey of graduates of Tennes- see teacher preparation programs, a collaborative project currently operational in more than 123 school systems; and other projects involving public schools in rural, inner-city and suburban communities. The university's emphases on urban communities and cul- tural pluralism have enhanced research opportunities focusing on the problems of urban schools and issues related to diversity.

Center for Research in Educational Policy: Timeline of major projects through the year 2000.

Recognition of Accomplishments of Center and its Faculty

Between 1985 and 1995, faculty associated with the center published 370 articles; over 250 books, book chapters or research monographs; and presented more than 750 schol- arly papers at international, national or regional conferences.

The center has received wide recognition for its work. Among its honors are the Innova- tion in Teacher Education Award (Southeast Regional Association of Teacher Educators), the Distinguished Achievement Award (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education), the Christa McAuliffe Showcase for Excellence Award (American Associa- tion of State Colleges and Universities) and the Showcase of Excellence Award (National Council of States on Inservice Education).

More than 40 projects are currently underway or being planned within four broad catego- ries of inquiry: development of school professionals, educational policy studies, school program research and school restructuring and reform.

Projections for the Next Decade

Quality of basic education for all learners is a primary concern in Tennessee, a human resource development priority and an issue critical to continued economic growth of the state, region and nation. Consistent with this concern, the center will address a host of policy and practice issues associated with the attainment of Tennessee's 21st Century Schools and achievement of America Goals 2000. Education restructuring efforts which will receive priority include:
  • Content and opportunity-to-learn standards addressing issues of equity
  • Break-the-mold schools and innovative instructional strategies
  • School detracking and inclusion of students with special needs
  • Integration of technology and curricula
  • Education professionals' preparation and continuous development
  • Technical assistance delivery relevant to school and district needs
  • School, community, industry and higher education partnerships
  • Characteristics of high-performance schools
  • Decentralized school decision-making and planning
  • School-to-work transitions.
Several current projects will be continued, including applied research associated with interventions to serve diverse student populations, authentic assessment to complement standardized testing, strategies for school restructuring, Professional Development Schools and other innovative school and university partnerships, preparation and recruit- ment of minorities into teaching, linking of professional development with school im- provement and development of teacher leaders.

Collaborations will be created linking researchers and practitioners in the planning and implementation of research via the Tennessee Education Network (TEN). In addition, technical assistance will be provided to educators, researchers and policymakers in using the information system for school improvement planning and decision making.