Dr. Firestone is a Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). His areas of research include program implementation, organizational theory in education, effective school and district leadership, the effects of state and federal policy-making, and how accountability policies affect teaching practice. He is particularly interested in ensuring that educational research promotes school improvement. As past Vice-President of Division L (Politics and Policy) of AERA, he initiated a program to bring state policymakers to the annual conference to learn about cutting-edge policy research and share their concerns with researchers. For Division A (Educational Leadership) of AERA, he led a task force that proposed a research agenda on school leadership that tightened the links between leadership and improved instruction (see Firestone and Riehl, A New Agenda for Research on Educational Leadership, Teachers College Press).
In New Jersey, he led several projects to provide research that would enlighten or improve practice in the state. This included a study of how school districts implemented the Quality Education Act—New Jersey’s major school finance reform of the 1990s (see Firestone, Goertz, and Natriello, research on how teachers and administrators responded to increased testing responsibilities, and studies of effective schools for New Jersey conducted for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce). He has also evaluated new state professional development regulations for the New Jersey Department of Education. Most recently, he led the evaluation of the New Jersey Teacher Evaluation Pilot. His research has appeared in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Administration Quarterly, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and Educational Researcher.