How School Boards Weigh Research Findings in Policymaking

How do school boards understand, weigh, and incorporate various types of research evidence in their policy deliberations and decision-making?

Asen and Gurke will observe school boards in three Wisconsin school districts as they communicate their positions on a given issue, explain and offer evidence for their reasoning, and use value systems in advancing their positions and opposing those of others. They will pay particular attention to the circumstances in which school boards successfully manage tensions between research-based decision-making and other concerns. Data will be collected over two years via videotapes of all school board meetings; semi-structured interviews with board members and community stakeholders; and school district documents, media reports, and blog entries related to the board meetings. Meeting transcripts will be analyzed to examine how research evidence is interpreted and used by board members, and how board members’ interactions with each other and with community stakeholders affect their interpretation and use of research evidence.

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