The Education Policy Initiative at Carolina (EPIC) is an interdisciplinary team that conducts rigorous research and evaluation to inform education policy and practice. We produce evidence to guide data-driven decision-making using qualitative and quantitative methodologies tailored to relevant stakeholders. Our findings are used by national, state and local policy makers; K12 administrators; leadership at institutions of higher education; and program implementers to strengthen the growing body of research on what works, in which contexts, and why. Our work is ultimately driven by a vision of high quality and equitable education for all students.
Who We Are
EPIC’s established subject matter and methodological expertise are enhanced and marked by skill and experience in issues of equity and ambition. As an organization, EPIC is strongly propelled by principles around equity and culturally responsive evaluations, as well as a commitment to cultivating rich partnerships with districts and schools. These guiding tenets shape the ways in which we design and conduct our research and evaluations, share our findings, and engage with stakeholders.
EPIC brings together researchers with backgrounds in education, public policy, and public health to provide diverse perspectives on a wide range of topics that affect students, educators, and schools. Most of our current work falls into five primary research areas:
- Educator Preparation
- Educator Workforce Outcomes
- Whole School Models and Interventions
- Supporting Whole Child Needs
- Post-secondary Access, Readiness, and Completion
EPIC’s team is comprised of highly skilled qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods researchers that excel at a) developing data collection protocols to measure implementation fidelity, formative outcomes, and summative impacts; b) compiling and maintaining longitudinal databases for administrative data; c) conducting rigorous qualitative and quantitative data analyses; d) developing and implementing survey instruments and compiling and summarizing survey results; and e) conducting interviews, focus groups, and observations for purposes of program evaluation and research.
For more than a decade, EPIC has led research and evaluation projects examining programs intended to improve educator quality and student achievement in North Carolina and beyond. EPIC has established strong and lasting relationships with a range of K-12 schools, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the North Carolina State Board of Education, the UNC System Office, and post-secondary institutions in North Carolina, as well as with educator preparation program and technical assistance providers across the country. Across each of these spaces, our work has been marked by a deep reverence for the expertise and contextual knowledge that resides in communities, in schools, and in educators.
EPIC has played a leading role in high-profile mixed method evaluations of federally funded grants such as the Race to the Top Evaluation, the NC Transformation Evaluation, the GEAR UP NC Evaluation, and ECU’s Teacher Quality Partnership Evaluation. EPIC has also partnered with state and local education agencies to conduct smaller scale evaluations of pilot programs and local efforts including the North Carolina Teacher Fellows Network, Durham County Schools Gang Resistance and Education Training (GREAT), and Schools That Lead Networked Improvement Communities. Through this work, we have visited schools throughout the state; collected data from students, parents, educators, and policymakers; and provided data to support continuous improvement. We have also leveraged state data systems to understand the impacts of a range of educational initiatives and inform evidence-based decision making.
In addition to high quality evaluation work, EPIC conducts innovative research that contributes to the advancement of the literature on educational improvement. We have examined issues such as the impact of natural disasters on student learning, the distribution of high-quality teachers across schools, and the policy implications of changing school start times and the adoption of the Community Eligibility Provision for free school meals. As a particular area of focus, EPIC has led and conducted research on the preparation, entry pathways, effectiveness, and retention of teachers and school leaders through the Educator Quality Research Initiative, a decade-long research-to-practice partnership with the UNC System.
Our research has been funded by federal research grants from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) as well as grants from private foundations, including the Belk Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. The results of our research have been published in top journals in the areas of education and public policy, including the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the Economics of Education Review, AERA Open, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education Finance and Policy, the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, and the Journal of Teacher Education.