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Policy and Evaluation

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Policy and Evaluation

Our Policy and Evaluation practice conducts research in order to develop ideas, publish reports, and make recommendations that have an impact on education policy and the broader conversation about America’s schools. Through high-quality analysis, advising, evaluation, and support services, we help organizations and leaders understand how policies affect their work so they can improve outcomes for underserved students and address inequities for Black, Hispanic, low-income, and other students who have been historically denied opportunity. 

Our team members have backgrounds that include work at the federal, state, and local levels and span a wide variety of policy and advocacy issues. Members of our team currently teach or have taught in elementary and secondary schools, at colleges and universities, and have worked with schools and districts as advisers, consultants, public officials, and more. Our staff have also served in roles at the White House, the Department of Education, and state education agencies. We offer unparalleled, independent analysis of education issues informed by our deep expertise and broad networks in the education sector. As a result, we are consistently sought out for advice about trends and opportunities in education and to offer guidance on positioning in the current reform debate.

Our primary activities include:


Bellwether regularly publishes policy briefs, analyses, and papers designed to inform the field or advance new ideas on education issues. Our publications leverage in-depth research and our staff’s deep understanding of the field to present new perspectives, insights, and ideas in a format that is clear, accessible, and compelling to education and policy audiences. Our Policy and Evaluation team has an established track record of authoring and publishing high-impact publications that help shape the debate on education policy issues and challenging the field to identify and address policies, practices, and behaviors that lead to inequitable outcomes. We always maintain absolute editorial control over anything that carries our brand or byline.

Research and Policy Analysis

Bellwether undertakes research and analysis on a range of education policy topics. We engage in client-facing research and analysis projects designed to meet the needs of a particular client, as well as external-facing research and analysis designed to advance the knowledge and understanding of the broader field.

Examples of work in this area include:

  • Scanning and analyzing state and local policy conditions across multiple states or jurisdictions to identify trends or help organizations identify the most promising sites for growth, expansion, and impact

  • Conducting qualitative or quantitative analyses of the impact of state policy changes on educational equity and student outcomes

  • Synthesizing research literature to identify policy implications or promising practices for federal, state, and local policy

  • Analyzing legislation and proposed policy changes, especially for their potential to mitigate and address long-standing inequities

  • Developing policy proposals and recommendations to improve federal, state, or local policies

  • Advising clients on political and policy contexts, including implications for their priorities, operations, expansion, or advocacy efforts


Education is a highly politicized, highly regulated, and publicly funded service, so policy and political conditions significantly impact the ability of education organizations to achieve their goals. Bellwether provides a range of hands-on advising services, customized to individual client needs, to help our clients understand and navigate these challenges. These services include:

Navigating the political and policy landscape: We help clients identify the policy, political, and contextual factors impacting their work, monitor changes and developments, and refine organizational strategies in response to an evolving education landscape.

Communications and thought leadership advising: We do not represent clients but can help organizations develop and articulate the messages they want to communicate to policymakers and the broader public, define key strategic audiences for those messages, and develop strategies for communicating their work. Because we are not a public affairs or lobbying firm, we are also able to candidly advise clients about when and how they should retain such services.

Educational program evaluation: Organizations need good information about their programs to understand what works, for whom, and why. Bellwether’s team of evaluators helps clients integrate evaluation into planning and implementation efforts so they can get good information and use it to drive what they do and advance educational equity. We can conduct classic short- and long-term external evaluations, and we can also offer extensive experience in building the capacity of organizations and grantees to evaluate their own efforts for continuous improvement.

Implementation support: We work with public sector agencies and their partners in the nonprofit, philanthropic, and advocacy sectors to effectively implement public policies designed to advance equitable outcomes for underserved students. This work can include advising on strategies for stakeholder engagement, carrying out research and analysis, and developing tools and systems for policy implementation.

Philanthropic advising: We work with foundations to craft, implement, and modify investment strategies in the education space. Our work includes strategy development, staff and trustee education, research and analysis about particular investment areas, diligence, and impact evaluation of philanthropic investments.


To read about our transparency and confidentiality policies and how we maintain our editorial independence, click here.