OFFICES
US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

Functional Statements > Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development

D. POLICY AND PROGRAM STUDIES SERVICE

The Policy and Program Studies Service’s (PPSS) mission focuses on education policy analysis and formulation, development of legislative proposals, and evaluation of existing and proposed education programs.  In all its activities, the standard of excellence for PPSS is that the Department of Education in general, and the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in particular, be recognized as high-performance organizations.

PPSS is responsible for:  (1) providing “think tank” support for the Assistant Secretary; (2) developing issues briefs, technical papers, reference guides, and quick turn-around analyses; (3) analyzing current and proposed education policy; (4) developing policy options for legislative proposals and program reauthorizations based on policy analysis, performance measurement, and evaluation studies for education programs; (5) designing, conducting, and reporting on evaluation studies to describe program operations and program outcomes of participants and to promote program improvement of evidenced based practices; (6) providing technical expertise in formula development, modeling, forecasting, and trends analysis; and (7) conducting analyses of cost/benefit and institutional effects of regulations.

In performing its responsibilities, PPSS does the following:

  • Coordinates the evaluation agenda for the Department conferring with program offices in the process.
  • Conducts policy analyses to identify major issues related to education, to support budget policy and budget execution, to identify effective practices, to support proposals for legislation and program funding priorities, and to make policy and planning recommendations to the Assistant Secretary and the Secretary.
  •  Develops policy options for legislative proposals and program reauthorizations based on policy analysis and evaluation findings and recommendations, which involves selecting issues, describing options, estimating costs, assessing consistency with prior policies, and predicting future effects.
  • Coordinates Departmental planning and budgets for evaluation studies to ensure best use of resources and consistency with the strategic plan; provides a continuing focus for evaluation planning on development of performance measures and performance reporting towards meeting legislated requirements to improve program performance; collaborates with international organizations (e.g., Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), other nations, and other entities in evaluation planning and designing and carrying out special studies to help improve education in the United States; and uses technology and communications systems to transmit evaluation and analysis findings to its customers including the Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, other Federal agencies, State and local education agencies, and a broad spectrum of school, parent, and community agencies at all levels.
  • Coordinates special projects, such as desk-top references to “No Child Left Behind, which the Secretary designates as high priorities for PPSS.

Functions of the Policy and Program Studies Service are carried out by the Office of the Director, the Division of Program and Analytic Studies, and the Policy and Technical Analysis Support Team.  Two distinct teams make up the Division of Program Analytic Studies:

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Office of the Director, PPSS

The Office of the Director, PPSS, directs all Service activities including the establishment of staff work priorities, policy initiatives, and special projects.  The Office of the Director is responsible for keeping the Assistant Secretary apprised of the impact of current and proposed education programs and their effectiveness and is the principal source for coordinating such information in the Department.  The Office of the Director represents PPSS (and, at his/her request, the Assistant Secretary) in meetings and conferences with Department officials, Congressional representatives, the education community, and other Federal, State, and local agencies and organizations and education officials of other nations.  In addition, the Office of the Director implements the Secretary's directive for PPSS to oversee ED evaluation activities.  The activities of responsibility include:  working with program offices to ensure that descriptive studies provide useful and timely data and ensuring that PPSS - studies are of the highest technical quality. 

The Division of Program and Analytic Studies

The Division of Program and Analytic Studies is responsible for planning and evaluation analyses from pre-K through postsecondary and adult education.

The Pre-K/Elementary Team

The Pre-K/Elementary Team is responsible for program and analytic studies in the area of early childhood and elementary education.  It covers such Federal programs as Title I compensatory education, Even Start, migrant education, neglected and delinquent education, professional development, school improvement grants, bilingual education, math/science education, education for children with disabilities, impact aid payments, Indian education, arts in education, and alcohol and drug abuse education.  The Team is further responsible for analyses within pre-k and elementary education of major trends and developments with respect to demographics, finances, staffing, processes, services, organizational structure, and academic performance.  The Team conducts:  internal and external analyses involving descriptions of Federal programs and of the pre-k and elementary sectors; in the United States and internationally, national evaluations of programs and sector effects; and analyses of various strategies for improving the quality and efficiency of pre-k and elementary education, including developing policy options for the reauthorization of Federal programs.  The Team also provides technical assistance to program and budget staffs for program planning and formula development within pre-k and elementary education.
 
In performing its responsibilities, the Pre-K/Elementary Team:
Reviews the state of knowledge about pre-k and elementary education programs; identifies information needed about these programs to strengthen program implementation and support program reauthorization; designs policy analysis studies to improve program implementation or inform program reauthorization; prepares descriptive and analytic material to support and defend proposed studies before reviewing authorities.

  • Develops short- and long-term agendas of policy and evaluation studies based on the Secretary’s priorities, determining which are to be performed within ED and which are to be contracted; prepares appropriate work statements and contractor selection criteria for external studies; collaborates with the Principal Offices in issuing requests for proposals, evaluating proposals received, and making contractor selection.
  • Participates in the formulation of regulatory and legislative documents through the development of policy options, summaries and syntheses of key evaluation and research findings, and review of draft documents.
  • Monitors and directs the progress of work performed under contracts by providing guidance on the implementation of study design; selection and development of measuring instruments; sampling data collection; and analysis; and interpretation and reporting of results.
  • Conducts issue analysis activities for Department policy development purposes in the area of elementary education including responsibility for:  concept papers, literature reviews, decision memoranda, special analyses of the outcomes of program and funding strategies, and delivery system and management analysis.
  • Assists in the implementation of policy and program provisions assigned to the Assistant Secretary in the Strategic Plan, including developing a State Wall Chart to track State progress in improving outcomes and implementing NCLB provisions.
  • Prepares and disseminates executive summaries to communicate findings to ED decisionmakers, the Congress, and the education community and makes recommendations for action based upon study results.
  • Reviews and critiques, as requested, policy, planning, and budget documents in the area of pre-k and elementary education for the Assistant Secretary.
  • Prepares decision papers for the Secretary; prepares and/or reviews program regulations; and responds to GAO and ED audit reports.
  • Collaborates with international organizations in analytic studies to help improve the Department’s programs.

The Secondary/Postsecondary Cross-cutting Team

The Secondary/Postsecondary/Cross-cutting Team is responsible for planning and evaluation analyses in the area of postsecondary education, adult education, education technology, vocational education and vocational rehabilitation.  It covers such programs as Pell Grants, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, College Work‑Study, Guaranteed Student Loans, Direct Student Loans, Upward Bound, and other postsecondary education programs.  The Team is also responsible for analyses in programs such as the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Independent Living Programs, and Basic State Grant Programs in Vocational Rehabilitation, vocational education, and adult education and literacy. 

The Team conducts internal and external analyses involving Federal programs in the above-mentioned areas; carries out descriptive evaluations of the implementation and outcomes of Federal programs; develops policy options for reauthorization of Federal legislation; designs performance measurement systems; and conducts analyses of various strategies for improving the quality and efficiency of education at the secondary, postsecondary, and adult-learner levels.  For example, the Team is responsible for analyses within postsecondary education and nonpublic education of major trends and developments with respect to demographics, finances, staffing, processes, services, organizational structure, and academic performance.  Also, the Team is responsible for evaluating the implementation and outcomes of education technology on students, schools, and postsecondary institutions.  The Team also provides technical assistance to program and budget staffs for program and budget planning.

In performing its responsibilities, the Team:

  • Reviews the state of knowledge about postsecondary education programs and nonpublic education, and adult and vocational education and vocational rehabilitation; identifies information needed about these programs to strengthen program implementation and program reauthorization; designs policy analysis studies to improve program implementation or inform program reauthorization; proposes and conducts policy analysis studies on key Administration and Secretarial initiatives; and prepares descriptive and analytic material to support and defend proposed studies before reviewing authorities.
  • Reviews the state of knowledge and identifies information needed about these programs; proposes and conducts policy analysis studies on key Secretarial and Administration initiatives; and prepares descriptive and analytic material to support and defend proposed studies before reviewing authorities.
  • Develops short- and long-term agendas of policy and evaluation studies, determining which are to be performed within ED and which are to be contracted; prepares appropriate work statements and contractor selection criteria for external studies; collaborates with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer in issuing requests for proposals, evaluating proposals received, and making contractor selection.
  • Participates in the formulation of regulatory and legislative documents through the development of policy options, summaries and syntheses of key evaluation and research findings, and review of draft documents.
  • Monitors and directs the progress of work performed under contracts by providing particular attention to implementation of study design interpretation of results involving:  selection and development of measuring instruments; sampling data collection; and analysis and reporting of results.
  • Conducts issue analysis for Department policy development purposes in the above-mentioned areas including responsibility for:  concept papers, literature reviews, decision memoranda, special analyses of the impact of program and funding strategies, and education delivery systems and management analysis.
  • Assists with the implementation of policy and program provisions assigned to the Assistant Secretary in the Strategic plan, including developing a Wall Chart to track progress in improving outcomes and implementing NCLB provisions.
  • Prepares and disseminates executive summaries to communicate findings to ED decisionmakers, the Congress, and the education community and makes recommendations for action based upon study results.
  • Reviews and critiques, as requested, policy, planning, legislative, and budget documents in the areas of secondary and postsecondary education for the Under Secretary.
  • Prepares decision papers for the Secretary; prepares and/or reviews program regulations; and responds to GAO and ED audit reports.
  • Collaborates with international organizations in analytic studies to help improve the Department’s programs.

Policy and Technical Analysis Support Team

The Policy and Technical Analysis Support Team is designed to support the Program Studies division, the PPSS director, and the Assistant Secretary’s office in the development and analysis of policy and program implementation. 

In performing its responsibilities, the Team:

  • Provides “think tank” support to the Assistant Secretary to include development of a quick-retrieval analytic capacity where information can be retrieved in a variety of formats on a range of program and policy-relevant topics.
  • Coordinates policy and technical analyses requested by the Assistant Secretary.
  • Develops issue briefs, technical papers, reference guides, and quick turn-around analyses, such as reference documents to provide guidance in implementing “No Child Left Behind.”
  • Develops web-based products that provide quick access to policy and program studies, links to program evaluation studies, and e-learning materials.
  • Provides editorial and document design services to ensure the consistency with Department guidelines and the readability of technical documents, including editing mandated Congressional program evaluations.
  • Implements cross-cutting analytic special projects, such as those that promote the development of web-based language initiatives, foster mutual international understanding through knowledge of different peoples, and support the sharing of information on effective policies and practices.

 
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Last Modified: 02/04/2013