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: The Effect Of Information On College Aspirations

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, November 19, 2018

Are parents move likely to want to send their kids to college if they are given accurate information about the costs and benefits of attending college? A new study looks at what happens when parents are given customized information about the cost of going to college and the wage premium for earning a college degree.

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: KIPP Schools And The Charter Sector Continue To Evolve

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Richard Barth, CEO of the KIPP Foundation, joins Paul E. Peterson to discuss how the KIPP network is adapting to changes in the charter sector.

Analysis and Commentary

Panel Paper: Experimental Impacts Of Customized Information On College Aspirations

by Albert Cheng, Paul E. Petersonvia Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
Friday, November 9, 2018

In this paper, we conduct an experiment embedded in a survey to test whether the provision of customized information about the costs and returns to completing a post-secondary education affects parents’ post-secondary aspirations for their children. In all prior experiments that provide information, parents are given a national average of net costs and returns. This approach masks local idiosyncrasies in college costs and returns. 

Analysis and Commentary

The Education Exchange: Making Exam Schools More Diverse In Boston

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, November 5, 2018

In Boston, nearly 25% of public middle and high school students attend exam schools, but these schools are much less diverse than the school district as a whole. A new study looks closely at the entrance exam used to select students for these schools and at ways the admissions process could be changed to to make the schools more diverse without sacrificing academic selectivity.

Analysis and Commentary

Four-Day School Weeks And Pathway 2 Tomorrow

by Paul E. Petersonvia The Education Exchange
Monday, October 29, 2018

Hanna Skandera, Editor-in-chief of The Line and former Secretary of Education for New Mexico, sits down with Paul E. Peterson to discuss the four-day school week and Pathway 2 Tomorrow, a call for innovative proposals to broaden education.

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.

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