Reforming the federal Experimental Sites initiative to better learn what works in higher ed: An interview with Amy Laitinen and Clare McCann, New America – Episode #162

As the new report “Putting the Experiment Back in the Experimental Sites Initiative” discusses, the U.S. Department of Education’s “Ex Sites” initiative — in place in one form or another since the mid-1980s — is designed to allow the Department to grant flexibility to institutions of higher education to test and evaluate potential federal policy changes, including around federal student aid rules. That gives policymakers the option to “try before you buy” (meaning test out policy changes in pilot form), something that is particularly valuable given that even small changes to student aid policy can affect millions of students. Yet the initiative has been underutilized as a learning tool. The report provides recommendations for fixing that.

To learn more, we are joined by two of the co-authors, Amy Laitinen (@amylaitinen1) and Clare McCann (@claremccann), who are respectively the director and deputy director for higher education with the Education Policy program at New America.