The District of Columbia and the surrounding suburbs face complex, interconnected problems within a rapidly evolving region. The Urban Institute conducts research on a variety of policy challenges facing the Washington region, including work on child well-being, education reform, affordable housing, homelessness, poverty, crime, and health care. Through these projects, the Institute helps policymakers understand Washington's unique needs and develop practical strategies to meet those needs.
Research areas include:
Crime and Justice
District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute Focused on crime and justice policy in Washington, D.C., DCPI’s mission is to support improvements in the administration of justice and public safety policies through evidence-based research.
NeighborhoodInfo DC Focused on supporting community organizations, neighborhood leadership, residents, and government through providing a wide-range of data indicators about D.C. neighborhoods.
Publications on Washington D.C. Region
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Enrollment in early childhood education programs can be an important stepping stone to higher educational achievement, particularly for low-income children. This report examines the extent of absenteeism in the District of Columbia Public Schools’ (DCPS) school-based Head Start program in the 2013–2014 school year (SY). Absence rates and the share of students with satisfactory attendance improved between SY 2012–2013 and SY 2013–2014. Rates of absences declined from 9 percent to 8 percent, and the share of students with satisfactory attendance increased from 36 percent to 44 percent between the two years.
Absenteeism in early grades, including prekindergarten, can negatively impact future attendance, retention, and academic performance. This report details research focused on absenteeism of children in the District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) early childhood program. Through interviews with key DCPS staff as well as education experts and district administrators throughout the country, and reviewing relevant literature and case management notes, we examined contributing factors to early childhood absenteeism in DC, current attendance tracking and intervention efforts, and potential strategies to improve attendance. The report includes recommendations about steps that the DCPS Early Childhood Education Division could consider to limit absenteeism.
DC test scores are rising across the board, even after accounting for changing demographics. The mayor should channel this progress by ensuring stability for all students and equity for DC’s poorest students.
Open data—data that can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose—is key to creating an accountable and effective government. Mayor Bowser and her staff will need to firmly establish the policy and practice of open data, catalog current data assets, build a supportive culture, and engage external stakeholders