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The Research Says: Definitions and Uses of a Key Policy Term in Federal Lay and Local School-Board Deliberations


Focusing on ‘research’ as a key term in debates over U.S. education policy, this article compares the definition of research in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) with the meanings and uses of research in school-­‐board deliberations in three local districts in Wisconsin. While NCLB articulates a narrow view of research and a hierarchy of methods, the school boards operated with an expansive meaning of research and combined its use with other evidence types. Appreciating the role that values play in crafting public policy, these local debates balanced technical and public modes of reasoning.

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