Financing the Policy Discourse: How Advocacy Research Funded by Private Foundations Shapes the Debate on Teacher Quality

How does foundation-funded research influence policies about teacher quality?

In recent years, education philanthropies have become more likely to fund research projects that support their advocacy reform agendas. Reckhow and Tompkins-Stange will study this phenomenon in the area of teacher effectiveness and teacher quality. They will analyze foundation-funded research reports and examine the influence of that research on policy. The researchers hypothesize that foundation-funded research achieves influence by introducing new concepts into the policy discourse, raising awareness of issues, providing language to frame the policy responses, and reducing uncertainty about complex topics. Study participants include foundation and intermediaries that conduct or disseminate research, researchers, policymakers, and other critical stakeholders, such as teacher union leaders. The research team will collect and code the content of research reports, media coverage, congressional hearings, and public debate, and interview the stakeholders identified. Reckhow and Tompkins-Stange will then map and analyze how policy ideas gain ground and travel through social networks.

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