HESIHoover Education Success Initiative (HESI) focuses on providing state leaders with sound research-based recommendations to improve education in America.

Since passage in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have again taken charge of American education policy. That means their leaders must possess the vision, wisdom, and capacity to make the most of opportunities to better serve their students, parents, educators, and taxpayers. To support them in this ambitious undertaking, the Hoover Education Success Initiative provides policy recommendations in vital realms of K-12 schooling, grounded in expert analysis of what works.

Launched in 2019, HESI is a “solutions tank” led by senior scholars at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Its work incorporates the best available policy evidence as compiled by panels of research leaders in specific topical areas. The policy briefings are scrutinized and honed in consultation with the HESI Practitioner Council, a group of leading state policy makers and educational reform advocates.

HESI is not restricted to any specific policy areas but looks to inform states about a range of key topics of importance across the country. Examples demonstrating this can be seen in the major papers currently available:

This paper provides strong motivation for improving teacher compensation, notably for beginning teachers, but also explains how simply increasing pay without consideration of teacher effectiveness does not lead to improved student outcomes.

This paper outlines three functions that high school diplomas signal in America and the tensions among them. It argues for revamped career and technical education programs, increased rigor in academic courses, regular measurement of student competency, and improved data collection and reporting by states on a range of student outcomes.

This paper traces the evolution of school accountability, appraises the evidence to date regarding its efficacy, describes changes wrought by 2015’s Every Student Succeeds Act, and makes recommendations for maximizing the law’s value. It then turns to the future, urging state (and federal) officials not to forsake results-based accountability and high-quality assessments of student learning while recommending reforms for future implementation.

This paper outlines how many forms of choice—magnets, open enrollment, portfolio districts, charters, vouchers, tax credits, education savings accounts—have emerged in recent years and provides evidence that they are a notable advance from schools assigned on the basis of residence. It notes that the popularity of such options among parents and students is expected to increase and makes recommendations for correcting their shortcomings.

Thirteen contributing essays by leading expert authors were vital in informing the creation of these four major briefings. 

HESI continues to host research paper workshops and policy symposia on these and other timely K–12 issues, including policy challenges for state leaders that have arisen as a result of the global pandemic and the local school shutdowns that it precipitated across many parts of the country.

The initiative continues to strive to ensure that its research supports needed changes in education policy and practice at the state level. The central goal of HESI is to contribute directly to the ongoing reinvention of the nation’s education landscape and ultimately to drive enhanced outcomes for American children.


The Practitioner Council of the Hoover Education Success Initiative is comprised of 15-20 leading education policy voices from across the country.  Collectively they serve as brain trust from which HESI members and authors draw insight and inspiration.  Each member occupies a unique space in the education system—sitting inside Governors’ offices and state legislatures, leading state education agencies and educational non-profits, convening other systems leaders on university campuses and in membership organizations.  Members provide input and guidance as pressure-testers of policy proposals, distributors of policy recommendations, identifiers of early adapters and connectors to potential partners.  Each member commits to an 18-month term of service, and participates in the annual HESI Symposium.  They serve an important role in the HESI network of collaborators.

For more information on the practitioner council, click here.

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