by Zena Rudo

SEDL Policy Research on Instructional Resources

In a time of fiscal stress with limited money for education, policymakers need more research-based information about how educational resources most effectively support student achievement.

SEDL's policy team is currently conducting a study about the feasibility of using state education databases to develop policies that address teacher resources. Our goal is to first assess the capacity and limitations of the databases in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas. We will then use the results to more specifically study the impact of teachers' salary, experience, educational level, and certification—in the contexts within which they exist—on student achievement.

States collect a variety of data on school and district resource allocation; however, it is not clear whether these data can truly guide policy development regarding how resources are best used to improve student achievement. SEDL hopes to learn to what extent the four state databases allow the investigation of the relationship between instructional fiscal and staffing resources and student achievement.

To answer this question, we are focusing on data about instructional compensation, teacher characteristics, instructional staffing patterns, and student, school, and district characteristics. We are examining these data based on criteria of accessibility, completeness, accuracy, alignment, reliability, and validity.

Our study report will discuss the diversity of quality and capacity of the data collected in the four SEDL states, and identify the important policy questions that can indeed be answered by the state databases. The research results will also tell us the questions that are currently unanswerable but could be answered given expansion and improvement in the state systems of data collection. For more information about SEDL's current policy research, contact Diane Pan at 1-800-476-6861, ext. 212.

To learn more about SEDL's policy work, visit our Web site at

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Published in Insights on Educational Policy, Practice, and Research Number 17, September 2004, A Best-Fit Approach to Effective Teacher Policy