EdPolicyForward - Center for Education Policy - George Mason University

Education Policy
PhD Specialization

The PhD specialization in Education policy is a broadly focused specialization that includes deep consideration of theory, methods and practice.

Theory: Students study the under-girding policy options, where they originate, and their links to cross discipline theoretical understandings.

Methods: The specialization and the Ph.D. program overall includes comprehensive study of the tools needed to analyze and evaluate policies and their impacts as well as how to engage in empirical policy research.

Practice: Located near Washington, DC, Mason students have the opportunity for advanced internships in national associations, think tanks, federal agencies, research offices, and the EdPolicyForward Center for Education Policy @George Mason University.

Flexibility: Each student designs her/his own program in consultation with a Program Advisory Committee chaired by an education policy faculty member. Some examples include policy and teacher education, policy and special education, policy and international education, and policy and education leadership to name a few.

Our Graduates are working in senior roles in national associations, as analysts in think tanks and R&D organizations, in federal agencies and in school divisions.

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Polling Data: Presidents Split the Public on Schools

June 3, 2024

David Houston and Alyssa Barone (CEHD doctoral student) have published a new working paper, "How the Engagement of High-Profile Partisan Officials Affects Education Politics, Public Opinion, and Polarization."

March 7, 2024

Polarization, Partisan Sorting, and the Politics of Education

February 21, 2024

David Houston was accepted as part of the EdResearch for Action Writers Fellowship, a program to help education researchers better communicate their research to a practitioner audience, increasing the reach and impact of their work

February 2024


Politics, Covid, and In-Person Instruction During the First Year of the Pandemic

November 10, 2023

Giving Parents Better School Quality Data Encourages Them to Consider Less Affluent, Less White Schools—To a Point

June 8, 2023

Most Va. voters see equal opportunities in public schools, poll finds

April 18, 2023

Katy Blackburn is George Mason University's April Employee of the Month

April 5, 2023

EDITORIAL: Partisan tilt bodes ill for Colorado schools

January 10, 2023

Why is partisan education conflict on the rise? Blame ‘political sorting.’

January 6, 2023


14 Charts This Year That Helped Us Better Understand COVID’S Impact on Students, Teachers and Schools

December 14, 2022

Math Scores Fell in Nearly Every State, and Reading Dipped on National Exam

October 24, 2022

Study: Federal Fiscal Aid Insufficient to Offset Student Learning Loss

October 14, 2022

Four in Five Students Say Their Education Suffered During Lockdown

October 12, 2022

More than politics: New studies help explain why some schools reopened while others stayed virtual

October 12, 2022

Academic Recovery for K-12 Students to Cost $700 Billion

October 11, 2022

Federal aid won’t make up for students’ COVID-19 learning loss, study shows

October 11, 2022

COVID-19 pandemic aid more than $300 billion short for dealing with student learning loss, study shows

October 11, 2022

Schools Need Billions More to Make Up for Lost Learning Time, Researchers Argue

October 11, 2022

$700B: That’s How Much It Will Cost to Fix Pandemic Learning Loss, Study Says

October 11, 2022

New Research Finds Federal Pandemic Aid to U.S. Public Schools Was Insufficient to Address Student Learning Loss

October 11, 2022

David Houston (CEHD) discusses partisan rifts and perceptions of school decline.

August 22, 2022

Does Teacher Professional Development Improve Student Learning?

July 18, 2022

Pandemic school reopenings were not just about politics: What researchers are still learning about in-person instruction during Covid-19

May 23, 2022

Anne Holton and Matthew Steinberg discuss the teacher labor market and how education policy can address the teacher race gap

April 20, 2022

Has federal crisis spending for K-12 schools served its intended objectives? Lessons from the Great Recession and COVID-19

April 12, 2022

A new way to pick the best school for your child

March 31, 2022

Sample Class: How Education Policy Can Address the Teacher “Race Gap”

March 25, 2022

Seth Hunter’s research finds that K–12 teacher evaluation feedback isn’t effective

February 15, 2022

Dr. David Houston, an Assistant Professor of Education Policy at CEHD, and PhD student Sara Townsend were recently accepted as members of the Emerging Education Policy Scholars (EEPS) Class of 2022.

January 2022


Fordham Institute, Education Gadfly Show interview guest (discuss new research on teacher effectiveness and improvement in charter and traditional public schools)

December 17, 2020

Teachers in High-Poverty Schools Penalized Unfairly on Observations, Study Says

December 14, 2020

New study says Chicago’s teacher evaluation may penalize Black educators

December 10, 2020

Neo-nationalism: A 2020 Perspective

December 9, 2020

Fordham Institute, Education Gadfly Show interview guest (discuss new research on teacher effectiveness and improvement in charter and traditional public schools)

December 17, 2020

GreatSchools overhauls ratings in bid to reduce link with race and poverty

September 24, 2020

How Districts, States Can Survive the COVID-19 Recession

June 2, 2020

12 ways the last recession changed America’s schools — and what that means for the years ahead

April 22, 2020

We should avoid flattening the curve in education – Possible scenarios for learning loss during the school lockdowns

April 13, 2020

School budgets are in big trouble, especially in high-poverty areas. Here’s why — and what could help

April 7, 2020

What the Great Recession Tells Us About the Pandemic Downturn to Come: Expect Declining Student Performance, Widening Achievement Gaps

March 27, 2020

The coronavirus double whammy: School closures, economic downturn could derail student learning, research shows

March 24, 2020

Research Deep Dive—School discipline reform

January 21, 2020

The best education research studies of 2019

January 8, 2020


14 Charts That Changed the Way We Looked at America’s Schools in 2019

December 11, 2019

Research by EdPolicyForward's co-director Matthew Steinberg was featured in The 74's 14 Charts That Changed the Way We Looked at America's Schools in 2019. This work finds that the closure of failing Philadelphia schools had a major impact on crime and played a key role in making the city safer. Read more here.

Comment: Education Dept Tactics on California Online College Students Are Contemptible

August 8, 2019

In New America's EdCentral blog, EdPolicyForward's Spiros Protopsaltis and New America's Clare McCann call out the Department of Education's use of scare tactics and threats, as part of its failed attempts to undermine the court-mandated implementation of Obama-era regulations on state consumer protections for online students. Read more here.

Additional Revenues Provided to Schools in Texas Found to Improve Student Outcomes

July 16, 2019

Research by EdPolicyForward's Matthew Steinberg found that additional revenue provided to schools in Texas based on Texas's school funding formula leads to improvements in student achievement, declines in dropout rates and increases in graduation rates. Read more here.

Targeted Closure of Failing Philly Schools Helped Reduce Crime

July 14, 2019

New research by EdPolicyForward's Matthew Steinberg finds that the closure of failing Philadelphia schools had a major impact on crime and played a key role in making the city safer. Read more here.

Sanders Campaign Cites Research on Pell Grant's Diminishing Value

June 26, 2019

While announcing his proposal to cancel student loan debt, the Vermont Senator used a fact about the Pell grant's diminishing purchasing value from a paper co-authored by EdPolicyForward's Spiros Protopsaltis. Read more here.

Great Recession Hit At-Risk Schools and Students the Hardest

June 6, 2019

Research by EdPolicyForward's Matthew Steinberg found that the budget cuts during the Great Recession had the largest impact on the test scores of students enrolled in low-income schools. Read more here.

In the News: Troubled Accreditor's Woes Continue

June 5, 2019

EdPolicyForward's Spiros Protopsaltis is quoted in a Chronicle of Higher Education story about the financial problems facing the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and how its struggle for survival raises major concerns for students and taxpayers. Read more here.

In the News: Public Service Loan Forgiveness Woes

May 7, 2019

EdPolicyForward's Spiros Protopsaltis is quoted in a Wall Street Journal story about the design flaws and serious implementation challenges of the federal public service loans forgiveness program. Read more here.

Research: An Unintended Consequence of Policy-Assigned Teacher Observations

April 29, 2019

EdPolicyForward's Seth Hunter finds strong negative bias in observation scores at thresholds where Tennessee policy assigns observations. Evidence strongly suggests that teachers receive substantially lower observation scores when state policy assigns them more observations, independent of observed performance. In light of these findings, suggestions for policymakers are found in this policy brief. Read more here.

Research: Do More Frequent Policy-Assigned Observations Explain the Rapid Growth in Tennessee Teacher Effectiveness?

April 10, 2019

EdPolicyForward's Seth Hunter finds that the receipt of more frequent policy-assigned observations by relatively effective Tennessee teachers does not improve student achievement. In light of these findings, suggestions for policymakers are found in his policy brief here.

In the News: Middlemen, Marketing and Online Higher Ed

April 1, 2019

EdPolicyForward's Spiros Protopsaltis is quoted in a Huffington Post story about the rapid growth and expanding role of OPMs (online program managers) in higher education, and the implications for college affordability. Read more here.

In the News: Scandals and Data Tarnish Higher Ed's Image in Congress

March 25, 2019

EdPolicyForward's Spiros Protopsaltis is quoted by InsideHigherEd in the wake of the recent college admissions scandal and concerns about the sector's overall performance and growing public disapproval. Read more here.

Comment: Loosening Standards, Widening Inequalities

February 22, 2019

EdPolicyForward's Spiros Protopsaltis and co-author Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute argue in the Chronicle of Higher Education that loosening federal standards for online higher education would likely lead to even more unequal outcomes, especially for disadvantaged students. Read more here.

In the News: Student Debt Problems Most Severe for College Dropouts

February 7, 2019

MarketWatch examines the realities of student debt that were discussed in a recent Education Writers Association panel that included EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis. Read more here.

In the News: Online Education Widening the Achievement Gap

February 4, 2019

The Hechinger Report writes about a recent paper co-authored by EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis that finds at-risk students underperforming in fully online courses and discusses the critical role of student-instructor interaction in providing a quality educational experience. Read more here.

In the News: Innovation Rhetoric May Mask Significant Risks

January 31, 2019

Education Dive explores the higher education agenda in the new Congress and quotes EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis on his concerns about deregulation in the name of innovation coming at the expense of student and consumer protections. Read more here.

Comment: Support the High-Quality Instruction Virginia's Kids Deserve

January 27, 2019

EdPolicyForward’s Anne Holton urges Virginia lawmakers to support funding for the high-quality education children deserve in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Read more here.

Research: Does Online Education Live Up to its Promise?

January 16, 2019

InsideHigherEd covers a new report that reviews the evidence on online higher education and discusses the implications for federal policy, which was co-authored by EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis. Read more here.

Comment: Teacher Strikes Can’t Fix the Core Problems with Our Schools

January 14, 2019

EdPolicyForward’s Diana D’Amico writes in The Washington Post about how the growth of suburban schools contributed to the decline of urban schools and concludes that teacher strikes cannot address the core challenges facing our school system. Read more here.

In the News: Department of Education Agrees with Audit’s Findings, But No Penalty

January 14, 2019

EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis is quoted by InsideHigherEd in the wake of the Department of Education’s final audit determination in response to its Inspector General’s findings on Western Governors University’s violations of key online education regulations. Read more here.


In the News: Tax Status Change Can’t Mask Major Problems at Troubled For-Profit Colleges

December 10, 2018

EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis commented on the recent trend of nonprofit conversions in the for-profit college industry for an InsideHigherEd story on the closure of a big chain’s campuses. Read more here.

Podcast: Students Enrolled in Online Credit Recovery Likely the Least Likely Population to Benefit from Online Instruction

December 5, 2018

On the Education Gadfly Show podcast, EdPolicyForward’s Samantha Viano explains why online courses are not well suited to meet the needs of at-risk students, and gives an overview of her research on the effectiveness of these courses. You can listen to the podcast here.

Comment: A Call to Extend Transparency and Accountability to Private Companies Offering Online Courses in Schools

November 30, 2018

In the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Flypaper blog series, EdPolicyForward’s Samantha Viano focuses on companies that provide credit recovery courses to secondary schools that are rarely required to share data or show success in order to gain access to public school students. Read more here.

Research: Most High Schools have Credit Recovery Programs, More Likely in Schools with non-White and Poor Students

November 29, 2018

EdPolicyForward’s Samantha Viano consulted on a report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute using the Office of Civil Rights Data Collection to describe credit recovery programs across schools in the 2015-16 school year. Read more here.

Research: Teachers Leading School Innovations Builds Buy-In, Potentially Incentivizes Low-Leverage Practices

November 28, 2018

A new study in Teachers College Record co-authored by EdPolicyForward’s Samantha Viano presents evidence on an innovative model utilizing improvement science to support an innovation co-created by teachers. Read more here.

In the News: Oversight of Education Department under a Democratic House

October 15, 2018

EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis is quoted in an InsideHigherEd story that examines the potential for increased Congressional scrutiny of the Trump Administration’s education agenda under a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Read more here.

In the News: Promoting Equity and Parental Engagement in Special Education

September 21, 2018

The Richmond Times-Dispatch covers a new report, co-authored by EdPolicyForward’s Anne Holton, which reviewed equity and parental engagement in special education for Henrico County Public Schools. Read more here.

Comment: EdPolicyForward Director Submits Comments on Latest Round of Higher Ed (De)Regulation

September 12, 2018

EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis provides comment to the Department of Education regarding the proposed rulemaking committee and calls for greater focus on student outcomes, transparency, and rigor in accreditation. Read the comments here.

Event: EdPolicyForward @ Virginia School Modernization Panel Event

September 5, 2018

EdPolicyForward’s Anne Holton joined several Virginia legislators on a panel to discuss the dire need for K-12 school repairs and modernization across the state. Moderated by EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis, the event was held at Mason’s Arlington campus and included education leaders from many of Virginia’s 133 districts. Read more here.

In the News: The Risks of Online College Deregulation

August 8, 2018

As the US Department of Education considers another round of deregulation, EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis is quoted cautioning against weakening rules for faculty-student interactions in online programs in InsideHigherEd. Read full article here.

Comment: Fifty Years after Kerner, It’s Time to Finish What We Started

June 13, 2018

In a blog for the Learning Policy Institute’s “Education and the Path to Equity” series, EdPolicyForward’s Anne Holton takes stock of the progress made 50 years after the seminal Kerner Commission report and reflects on her own family’s involvement in integrating schools. Read more here.

In the News: Misguided Effort to Dismantle Federal Protections

April 16, 2018

EdPolicyForward’S Spiros Protopsaltis and co-author Clare McCann discuss recent efforts to deregulate financial aid safeguards in an InsideHigherEd op-ed. Read more here.

Event: Former Education Secretary Duncan Promotes School-to-Work Partnerships

March 18, 2018

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan was the keynote speaker at a symposium called “Strengthening the Pipeline from School to Work: Private Sector and School Partnerships,” organized by EdPolicyForward’s Anne Holton. The symposium brought together several hundred business, K-12 and university leaders to discuss preparing students for career paths. Read more here.


In the News: For-profit Colleges May be Headed for a New Boom Cycle — Thanks to the Trump Administration

December 11, 2017

As the for-profit college sector stands to benefit from new rounds of deregulation, EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis calls for greater accountability and a return to bipartisanship efforts to defend students and taxpayers in the Washington Post. Read full article here.

Event: Former Education Secretary John King Calls for Equity and Results in Education

December 11, 2017

Former Secretary of Education John King was the featured speaker at The Johnson Center as part of the annual College of Education and Human Development PhD Colloquium. King called for equality in educational opportunity and outcomes for underserved groups and shared his personal story of the enormous impact of teachers on his own life and education trajectory. Read more here.

Research: A Call for Restoring Bipartisanship in Protecting Students and Taxpayers

November 30, 2017

EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis consulted on a new report by the Center on Budget Policy Priorities that examines the erosion of bipartisanship in higher education accountability over the past 20 years and its implications and calls for a renewed effort to protect students and taxpayers from predatory colleges. Read more here.

Event: EdPolicyForward’s Ginsberg Moderates Panel Discussion on State and Federal Education Policy

October 13, 2017

“Looking Back, Looking Forward: A Conversation about the Changing Landscape of Education Policy” brought together GMU faculty, students and alumni to discuss the current landscape of education issues, their implication for practice in schools, and the learning and development of students in Virginia and throughout the nation. Read more here.

In the News: Education Watchdog Audit Raises Important Questions

September 21, 2017

EdPolicyForward’s Dr. Spiros Protopsaltis is quoted in InsideHigherEd discussing the implications of the Office of Inspector General’s audit of Western Governors University for safeguarding the integrity of education and federal aid. Read more here.

Comment: Deregulation Places Students at Risk from Predatory Colleges

September 20, 2017

EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis provides commentary to the Department of Education on the evaluation of existing regulations, warning about the dangers of weakening student and taxpayer protections against predatory practices from higher education institutions. Read more here.

Comment: Roll Up Your Sleeves, Richmond, for our Kids and Their Schools

June 17, 2017

Writing in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, EdPolicyForward’s Anne Holton encourages city leaders to adopt the mayor’s proposed Education Compact. Read more here.

Research: Pell Grant Program is Critical for College Access and Success and Must Be Strengthened

July 13, 2017

EdPolicyForward’s Spiros Protopsaltis consulted on a new report by the Center on Budget Policy Priorities that reviews the evidence on the Pell Grant and recommends specific ways through which it can be strengthened and enhanced to further support college access and success. Read more here.

In the News: What’s Secretary DeVos’ Vision for Higher Ed?

July 13, 2017

EdPolicyForward’S Spiros Protopsaltis is quoted by The Chronicle of Higher Education in an article discussing vision change in the Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos, calling for policies benefiting students and taxpayers. Read more here.