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Richard O. Welsh examines K-12 policy and reforms

  |   Kathryn Kao   |   Permalink   |   Research,   Spotlight

Research, teaching, and service are the three defining pillars that encapsulate the work of Richard O. Welsh.

His extensive research on K-12 education reforms in post-Katrina New Orleans looks at a variety of issues, such as educational equity, school choice policies, student mobility, and the politics of education reform—all of which may define the future of Georgia's educational model.

As a new assistant professor in the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy, Welsh is eager to enhance his research by combining the political knowledge he gained from his work in New Orleans with his empirical background in quantitative research methods.

"Quantitative research identifies certain patterns and trends, and I've done that," he says. "Now, I need the qualitative and mixed method angle to learn more about these trends in education."

Georgia's Opportunity School District proposal, which will be on the ballot next year, is based on similar initiatives Welsh has studied. If the proposal is approved, it may authorize the state to temporarily assist failing schools.

While studying at the University of Southern California, Welsh used student-level data from Clark County, Nevada, for a three-part dissertation that provided a detailed overview of the prevalence and impact of student movement from one school to another on student achievement. From this data, Welsh discovered a host of reasons for student mobility that provides a basis for future research, including school discipline, school accountability, and zero-tolerance policies.

"To me, research should not just live in a lab somewhere that someone 50 years from now might use," he says. "Research needs to be rigorous and then applied to policy and practice... It needs to be first-class work that can actually help students and not just published for publishing's sake."

Joining the College of Education, Welsh says, is "a win-win situation. I can learn from students, and hopefully, I get to pass on insight to help them improve their everyday interactions with students."

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