An examination of the bidirectional relationship between federal civil rights guidance and research

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Abstract

As the primary agency responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws in the educational context, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issues policy guidance to help ensure that school districts and universities understand their legal obligations. These policy guidance documents have direct connections to topics studied by educational researchers (e.g., disproportionality in special education, race conscious admissions policies in higher education, transgender student inclusion, etc.). However, we do not have an empirical understanding of how this guidance is used by the research community. Nor do we have a strong grasp on the extent to which this guidance is explicitly informed by research. It is important to acquire an empirical understanding of the bidirectional relationship between research and educational policy in the context of civil rights enforcement in order to determine areas of strength and those in need of improvement. Specifically, this study poses the following research questions: 1) How often and in what ways do scholars explicitly use OCR policy guidance to inform their research? What are the characteristics of this research? 2) Conversely, how often and in what ways does OCR explicitly use research to inform policy guidance? What are the characteristics of research cited in OCR guidance?

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How to Cite
Lewis, M. M., & Kern, S. (2020). An examination of the bidirectional relationship between federal civil rights guidance and research. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 28, 104. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.28.4975
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Articles
Author Biographies

Maria M. Lewis, Pennsylvania State University

Maria M. Lewis, J.D., Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Penn State University. Her research is situated at the intersection of K–12 education law and policy, particularly as it relates to equity and civil rights.

Sarah Kern, Pennsylvania State University

Sarah Kern, J.D., is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Penn State University.  Her research focuses on policy implementation in higher education