Paul E. Peterson

Senior Fellow
Research Team: 
Awards and Honors:
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
National Academy of Education
Biography: 

Paul E. Peterson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a member of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education, and editor in chief of Education Next: A Journal of Opinion and Research. He is also the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government and director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University. His research interests include educational policy, federalism, and urban policy. He has evaluated the effectiveness of school vouchers and other education reform initiatives.

In 2006, Peterson was appointed leader of the Florida state Education Citizen Review Group and is a member of the Department of Education’s independent review panel, which is evaluating No Child Left Behind. In 2003, he was awarded the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Prize for Distinguished Scholarship. Among the many other honors and fellowships Peterson has received are a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a German Marshall Fund of the United States Fellowship, and a Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award from the American Political Science Association for the best book published in politics, government, or international relations. The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center reported that Peterson’s studies on school choice and vouchers were among the country’s most influential studies of education policy.

Peterson is a former director of governmental studies at the Brookings Institution and has been elected to the National Academy of Education and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

His most recent book, with Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann, Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School, documents the large economic costs of a stagnant K-12 education system. Other works include Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning, School Money Trials: The Legal Pursuit of Educational Adequacy; The Education Gap: Vouchers and Urban Schools; Reforming Education in Florida: A Study Prepared by the Koret Task Force on K-12 Education; Generational Change: Closing the Test Score Gap; and Choice and Competition in American Education.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Lowering College Costs By Offering Credits For Free

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, October 22, 2018

There are plenty of college-level online courses available for free, but students who want college credit for an online course may have to pay up to $1,000 per credit, or $30,000 per year. Modern States Education Alliance has come up with a way to combine college-level online learning with free college credit. Students take specially designed courses aligned with tests offered by the College Board. These tests are accepted by over 2,900 U.S. colleges and universities for college credit.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Is This Discrimination?

by Paul E. Peterson with Adam J. Whitevia The Education Exchange
Monday, October 15, 2018

When a school district's discipline policy has a disparate impact on African American students, is that racial discrimination? How about when an elite university uses affirmative action to increase the diversity of its student body? Adam White, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and director of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, joins Paul E. Peterson to discuss the legal issues involved.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Alberto Carvalho And Miami-Dade County Schools

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Under the leadership of Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade County Public Schools has won numerous awards for student performance. Carvalho sits down with Paul E. Peterson to discuss his strategy of empowering school leaders and reforming teacher compensation.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: High School Grade Inflation On The Rise

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, October 1, 2018

A new study based on data from North Carolina finds that grade inflation increased over the last decade and that grade inflation was more severe in schools attended by affluent students than in those attended by lower-income pupils.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Hanna Skandera On Overcoming Divisions In Education Reform

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, September 24, 2018

The world of education policy has been filled with some nasty battles in the recent years. Hanna Skandera, who formerly served as education secretary in New Mexico, hopes to change that by promoting civil discourse around education.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: The EdNext Poll Vs. The PDK Poll

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, September 17, 2018

Education Next and PDK both released the results of major surveys of public opinion about education in recent weeks. Joshua Starr, the president of PDK, joins Paul E Peterson to discuss the results of the two surveys.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: The Effects Of Heat On Student Learning

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, September 10, 2018

School is back in session after one of the hottest summers in recorded history, and many students are now in classrooms without air conditioning. A new study looks at how hotter school days impact. student learning.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Changes In Support For School Choice

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, August 27, 2018

Last year's EdNext poll revealed a sharp drop in support for charter schools. On today's podcast, Paul E. Peterson and Marty West look at the biggest changes in public opinion revealed by the 2018 EdNext poll, some of which relate to charter schools and vouchers.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Boston Public Schools In Transition

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, August 20, 2018

The Boston Public Schools will be led by an interim superintendent this fall, since former superintendent Tommy Chang was asked by the mayor of Boston to step down last June. Steve Poftak talks with Paul E. Peterson about some of the challenges that have faced, and will continue to face, the school district, including debates over school start times, diversity levels at exam schools, whether the student assignment system is causing segregation, transportation costs, and what happens next for BPS.

Analysis and Commentary

Effectiveness Of Teaching Practices Depends On Classroom Composition

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, August 13, 2018

A new study investigates whether teaching practices differ in effectiveness depending on the students in the class. It finds that the impact of good classroom management and student-centered instruction vary depending on whether the students in the classroom are of high ability or of mixed ability.

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