The Education Commission of the States and Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) have launched a new online tool to help policy makers, education leaders, reporters, and other stakeholders better understand and evaluate education research. Called “A Policymaker’s Primer on Education Research: How To Understand, Evaluate, and Use It,” this interactive, online document helps stakeholders answer three questions: what does the research say; is the research trustworthy; and how can the research be used to guide policy? The primer–which should prove to be an invaluable resource for school leaders, given NCLB’s new emphasis on scientifically based research–provides an overview of research methods and statistics, intermingled with flash animation and links to examples, additional discussions, pop-up definitions of technical terms, and an education research glossary. It also features tools to guide users through an assessment of research studies. Plus, there is a special “Understanding Statistics Tutorial,” and another tutorial on searching the federal Educational Research and Information Center (ERIC) database. For users who want an abbreviated version of the primer, there is an “Applied Quick Primer” keyed only to the most basic sections. The primer was written by McREL Principal Researcher Patricia Lauer and funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

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