Education Research & Policy Center

Identifying the issues, influencing legislation and shaping the debate on key education issues

About the Center

PSBA's Education Research & Policy Center was created with the primary goal of identifying existing and emerging critical issues with potential to impact public education and public school governance.  In support of this goal, the Center develops a variety of resources intended to improve understanding across constituent groups while encouraging advocates for public education in their efforts in the direction of solutions to contemporary issues. 

Education Research and Policy Center staff conduct independent research while additionally seeking out collaborative academic partnerships that ensure quality of outputs including reports, formal white papers, and district-focused resources for use by school governance officials and other school leaders.  Created specifically as an independent entity of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, The Center is able to provide unbiased perspective on research topics for the purpose of supporting best practices in public education while finding alternatives that promote success in all of Pennsylvania's public schools.

For more information about the Education Research and Policy Center, contact Todd Hosterman at, or (717) 506-2450, ext. 3351.

Publications, reports and materials

A closer look: Double-dip pension payments means charter schools get paid twice (April 2014)

Pennsylvania charter schools continue to underperform (March 2014)

Snapshot of property tax delinquencies in Pennsylvania
In school year 2011-12, the year for which the most recent financial data is available, 58% of all Pennsylvania school district revenue came from local sources, including property taxes. Acknowledging that economic conditions throughout the state have impacted communities at all levels, PSBA's Education Research and Policy Center (ERPC) contacted districts to monitor property tax delinquencies over the past several years.
Download the PDF pdf property tax delinquencies in PA

The costs of charter and cyber charter schools
(updated January 2014)

Research and policy implications for Pennsylvania school districts
Download the PDF PDF version of white paper

Charter/Cyber Charter Costs for Pennsylvania School Districts(October 2010)
Despite the rhetoric that charter and cyber schools save districts money, research shows that it is virtually impossible for districts to realize a single dollar of savings related to students attending charter schools.
Download the PDFCost of Cyber Charter Schools, Oct. 2010

Combining Social Security with Basic Education Funding:
Flexibility or cost shifting? (June 2012)

This issue brief looks at the potential impact of combining Social Security with Basic Education Funding, as was suggested in Gov. Tom Corbett's 2012-13 budget proposal. These two line items, as well as pupil transportation, nonpublic and charter school transportation costs, would have been combined into a Student Achievement Education Block Grant (SAEBG). The final adopted budget did not include the SAEBG, but the issue brief is still valuable reading to show the impact in the event similar proposals surface in future budgets.
Download the PDF PDF version of white paper

Raising achievement in underperforming schools (October 2011)
Through research, literature reviews and interviews, the Education Research & Policy Center has gathered what experts cite most often as the best way to improve school performance. Through the findings, the Center developed three recommendations for raising student achievement.
Download the PDF Raising achievement in underperforming schools

School Building Size: Is there a right size? (July 2011)
Research suggests smaller learning environments may produce higher levels of parental and teacher satisfaction, safer learning environments, and improved student outcomes especially among poor students in urban environments.
Download the PDF School Building Size, July 2011

Pay to Play (August 2010)
A special report addressing a growing trend among school districts in Pennsylvania and nationally requiring students to pay fees -- sometimes nominal, sometimes significant -- to participate in extracurricular activities from interscholastic sports to band and school clubs.
Download the PDF PSBA Pay-to-Play, August 2010

Funding Charter Schools (April 2010)
Preliminary research results as presented at the Legislative Advocacy Conference, Harrisburg.
Download the PDF Funding Charter Schools, PDF

Pennsylvania Charter Schools:
A look at school and student performance
(October 2009)
There is minimal statistical difference between charter school performance and traditional public school performance in Pennsylvania.
Download the PDF Charter Schools White Paper

Merger/Consolidation of School Districts:
Does it Save Money and Improve Student Achievement?
(April 2009)
Merger or consolidation of school districts does not save money, and it has an adverse impact on academic achievement.
Download the PDF School Mergers and Consolidations