Message from the Dean

Penelope PetersonDear Friends,

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has many faces. Beyond its well-known emphasis on stronger accountability for students' academic proficiency, this federal education policy has several other key provisions. First, the Act provides for more school choices for parents who want to improve the educational experience for their son or daughter. Second, NCLB attempts to ensure that all students have teachers who are highly qualified. Finally, NCLB endorses using only those educational practices that are backed by rigorous scientific evidence. In this "back to school" issue of Inquiry, we focus on each of these three issues as related to educational policy.

First, we examine charter schools in Chicago as one mechanism for giving parents school choice. How are charter schools different from other schools? What makes charter schools work? Are charter schools succeeding in improving performance of students in urban schools?

Second, we explore the issue of teacher quality. Evidence suggests that in our country the least skilled teachers teach those children who are most in need of a highly qualified teacher. How can we improve teacher quality? And how can we know teacher quality when we see it?

Third, we investigate the challenges of implementing evidence-based policies and practices. We hear from three School of Education and Social Policy faculty members who went to Capitol Hill this past spring to convey to policymakers the latest and strongest evidence for effects on educational achievement. Their evidence centers on three important factors: teachers, pre-schools for all and economic policies directed toward families.

Finally, we are delighted to announce that we have been invited to join the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE). CPRE brings together researchers across the country to improve educational practice through research on education reform, education policy, and governance and finance. Current members include the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Best wishes for a productive and enjoyable school year!

Penelope L. Peterson, Dean
By Penelope Peterson