Expertise: 

Michael J. Petrilli

Research Fellow
Biography: 

Mike Petrilli is an award-winning writer and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, one of the country’s most influential education policy think tanks. He is the author of The Diverse Schools’ Dilemma: A Parent's Guide to Socioeconomically Mixed Public Schools and coeditor of Knowledge at the Core: Don Hirsch, Core Knowledge, and the Future of the Common Core. Petrilli is also a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and executive editor of Education Next. Petrilli has published opinion pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post Bloomberg View, Slate, and Wall Street Journal and has been a guest on NBC Nightly News,, ABC World News Tonight, CNN, and Fox, as well as several National Public Radio programs, including All Things Considered, On Point, and the Diane Rehm Show. Petrilli helped create the US Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, the Policy Innovators in Education Network, and Young Education Professionals. He lives with his family in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Recent Commentary

Featured Commentary

Education Reforms Like Common Core Standards Help Beat Back 'Tide Of Mediocrity'

by Michael J. Petrilli, Michael Brickmanvia NJ.com
Saturday, May 16, 2015

2015 will carry special significance throughout much of the country — including New Jersey— as schools complete the transition to the Common Core standards. This spring, students statewide are taking the PARCC test, a next-generation exam aligned to the new, tougher standards. This marks a critical milestone not just for the Common Core but, more importantly, for the decades-long journey to improve America's schools.

an image
Blogs

Let’s Not Replace The Honesty Gap With A Reality Gap

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Thursday, May 14, 2015

In 2007, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute published what was probably the most influential study in our eighteen-year history: The Proficiency Illusion. Using data from state tests and NWEA’s Measures of Academic Progress, our partners at NWEA estimated the “proficiency cut scores” of most of the states in the country.

Blogs

A Turnaround District For Pennsylvania’s Lowest-Performing Schools By Michael J. Petrilli

by Michael J. Petrillivia EducationNext
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On May 13, Fordham President Michael J. Petrilli delivered testimony before a Pennsylvania State Senate committee. These were his remarks. As a strong conservative and a strong supporter of education reform, I am pleased to speak in favor of Senate Bill 6 and its intent to create an Achievement School District for Pennsylvania. Turnaround school districts are among the most promising reforms in American education today.

Blogs

How To Make Sense Of The Opt-Out Phenomenon

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Monday, May 11, 2015

There’s been a lot of pontificating lately about how to interpret the opt-out movement and the message parents are trying to deliver. The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley believes that “soccer moms” are mad at Common Core. Jay Greene, channeled by Riley, blames the diminishment of parental control. Rick Hess fingers the reformers’ social justice agenda, which is at odds with the interests of middle class suburban parents.

Students raising their hands
Featured Commentary

My Turn: New Hampshire’s Students Are Ready To Meet Higher Standards, But Are The Politicians?

by Michael J. Petrilli, Michael Brickmanvia Concord Monitor (NH)
Sunday, May 10, 2015

2015 carries special significance throughout much of the country as schools complete the transition to the Common Core standards. Right now, students statewide will take the Smarter Balanced test, a next-generation exam aligned to the new, tougher standards. This marks a critical milestone not just for Common Core but, more importantly, for the decades-long journey to improve America’s schools.

Featured Commentary

Michael Petrilli And Michael Brickman: Let N.D.'s Students Keep Meeting Higher Standards

by Michael J. Petrilli, Michael Brickmanvia Grand Forks Herald (ND)
Friday, May 1, 2015

Already, students statewide are taking the Smarter Balanced test, a next-generation exam aligned to the new, tougher standards. This marks a critical milestone not just for the Common Core but, more important, for the decades-long journey to improve America's schools.

School Buses
Featured Commentary

Shutting Bad Schools, Helping Students

by Michael J. Petrilli, Aaron Churchillvia The Wall Street Journal
Monday, April 27, 2015

As difficult and disliked as school closures can be, a new study being released Tuesday by the Fordham Institute indicates that the students usually benefit. When we looked at the impact of closures on their achievement, we found that, on average, children directly affected by closure gained significantly—the equivalent of an extra month of learning in their new schools.

Blogs

Early And Unplanned Pregnancy: An Off-Ramp From Upward Mobility

by Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Friday, April 24, 2015

The data could not be more clear: The chances are vanishingly slim that kids born into fragile families headed by young, poorly educated, low-income adults are going to be able to close the gap with kids born into stable, two-parent families headed by professionals in their thirties and forties.

teacher and student
Blogs

Teacher Layoffs Are Coming, And It’s The Great Recession’s Fault

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Sunday, April 19, 2015

Forty-eight states experienced declines over the last six years, but some drops were nearly cataclysmic. Note the dramatic reductions in some southern and western states, which were particularly hard hit by the housing bust and/or the recession itself.

Blogs

What’s Next On ESEA?

by Michael J. Petrillivia Education Next
Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tell me if you disagree, my fellow wonks and pundits, but I don’t think anyone predicted a 22-0 vote from the Senate HELP committee on ESEA reauthorization. What an amazing tribute to the bipartisan leadership of Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking member Patty Murray.

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