Center for Education Policy and Law

Linking Research, Policy and Practice

The mission of CEPAL is to understand the complex system of K-16 education and to advance strategic pathways that lead to better student outcomes.  Through an integrated approach to research, policy and practice, the center focuses on four key components that impact education:

#1 Policy and Law.  There is a need for educators to understand the driving forces behind education policy and for policy makers to understand how schools and colleges operate.  We undertake commissioned empirical and legal research on education policy at the local, state, and federal levels as well as host forums and provide strategic direction to enhance communication between education leaders and state-level policy makers.  In addition, through courses, internships and research opportunities, the center facilitates understanding among USD law students and education graduate students about the policymaking process.

#2 System-wide Impact.  The way in which public education is organized and financed influences system-wide outcomes.  We conduct research on the governance and funding structures of public schooling as well as provide district, state and national-level status reports to interrelate school and student demographics with academic performance outcome metrics.

#3 Program and Delivery.  New learning and teaching goals are being advanced by policymakers and practitioners in an effort to provide today’s student with a 21st century learning experience.  We conduct research and evaluation on the implementation of innovative curriculum, programs and instructional delivery to provide baseline information on best practice.

#4 Learning Environment.  A number of climate-related factors are fundamental to a student’s experience of learning including school culture.  We conduct research and evaluation on the implementation of innovative health and wellness programs as well as the design or redesign of physical learning spaces to support a more student-centered and teacher-supportive approach to the time, pace, place and pathway of learning.