How Can Policy Help?

Research Questions

What is Involved in Teaching?
How can Teacher Education Help?
How Can Professional Development Help?
How Can Policy Help?
How Can Research Help?
How can we Improve Research?

Research Projects

Teacher Qualifications and the Quality of Teaching
Class Acts
Research and Teacher Learning
National Center for Research on Teacher Learning
Teacher Education and Learning to Teach
Local Uses of Evidence
Evaluations of Federal Programs


Michigan State University
College of Education
Graduate Program in Teacher Education
National Center for Research on Teacher Learning



Just as teacher educators fret over how best to help novices learn to teach, so policy makers continually seek improvements in their policies for recruiting teachers, screening teacher candidates, or promoting improvements among those already teaching. I have recently come to think that these policy initiatives are more often pernicious than helpful, and wrote the two papers listed below to make that argument.

Kennedy, M. M. (2010) The Problem with Solutions. Iowa Council for the Social Studies Journal, 23(1) 7-11.

Kennedy, M. M. (2009) Solutions are the Problem in Education. Education Week, 28(37) Commentary. Retrieved from

Both of these articles are essentially editorials about the plethora of reforms that infuse schools each year, arguing that these actually interfere with, rather than facilitate, better teaching.

Kennedy, M. M. (2008) Contributions of Qualitative Research to Research on Teacher Qualifications. Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 30(4), 344-367.

Most research on the relevance of teachers' qualifications relies on large-scale data bases and looks for influence through regularities. But there is a small body of qualitative research that seeks evidence of influence by trying to reveal the mechanisms of influrnce. This paper reviews that literature.

Kennedy, M. M. (2007, April). Monitoring and Assessing Teacher Quality. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago.

Describes the variety of ways that districts and researchers try to document teaching practices, what they look for and value.

Kennedy, M. M. (2006) From Teacher Quality to Quality Teaching. Education Leadership, 63(6), 14-1

Examines multiple definitions of "teacher quality."

Kennedy, M. M. (1992) The problem of improving teacher quality while balancing supply and demand. In D. Guildford and E Boe (Eds). Teacher Supply, Demand, and Quality: Policy Issues, Models, and Data Bases. Washington DC: National Academy of Sciences Press.

Presented at a conference on indicators of teacher quality. Examines five approaches to measuring teacher quality: teachers' credentials, their tested ability, their demographic representativeness, the quality of their professional lives and the quality of their classroom teaching practices. Discusses what can and cannot be accomplished by promoting each definition of quality

Kennedy, M. M. (1991). Policy Issues in Teacher Education. Phi Delta Kappan, 72(9), 659-665.

This paper is an earlier and shorter version of the paper later written for the National Research Council, cited above.