Since 1989, the USM Center for Education Policy, Applied Research and Evaluation (CEPARE) has assisted school districts, state education officials, policy makers, state agencies and organizations by conducting and disseminating research, evaluation, and policy studies. CEPARE has the mission of providing independent, nonpartisan research to inform education policy and practice, and to systematically identify, analyze, and continually evaluate education strategies that significantly improve education outcomes for students in the context of fiscal realities. Its applied research and evaluation work has resulted in over 80 reports. The research has been used to inform both policy and practice at the state and school district level. The center serves as a consultative resource for education leaders regarding diverse educational issues, the challenges that arise, and offer practical guidance regarding school reform issues.
In collaboration with the University of Maine at Orono, CEPARE also co-directs and hosts the southern Maine site of the Maine Education Policy Research Institute (MEPRI), an institute jointly funded by the Maine State Legislature and the University of Maine System. MEPRI was established to conduct studies on education policy and public education for the Maine Legislature. Since 1995, MEPRI has provided policymakers with nonpartisan data, policy research, and evaluation. To date, CEPARE/MEPRI research has focused on a wide-range of school reform, school finance issues, and other education topics. These have included the development and assessment of the state education funding formula, the condition of K12 public education in Maine, the four-day school week, special education costs, and student assessment systems.