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The Urban Institute conducts interdisciplinary studies that explore critical intersections between schools, families, communities, and the workplace. Drawing upon expertise and perspectives from across our research centers, the Education Policy Cluster coordinates studies focused on family and neighborhood factors that influence school performance and educational success, the potential of alternative school improvement and reform initiatives, the effectiveness of both K–12 and post-secondary systems in preparing young people for careers, strategies for helping at-risk youth stay and succeed in school, and school financing mechanisms.

In addition, the Urban Institute has conducted research on issues that have been central to education policy, including school and teacher assessment, and evaluation of specific reforms.

Education Policy Cluster

Contributing Scholars: Akiva Liberman, Kim Rueben, Austin Nichols, John Roman, Sue Popkin, Peter Tatian, Mike Pergamit, Bob Lerman, Marla McDaniel, Megan Cahill, Erwin de Leon, Gina Adams, Kathryn Pettit, Caroline Ratcliffe, Signe-Mary McKernan, Maria Enchautegui, Elsa Falkenburger, Lauren Eyster, Demetra Smith Nightengale, Sara Edelstein, Julia Isaacs, Megan Gallagher, Zach McDade, Heather Hahn, Gene Steuerle, Tracy Vericker, Pamela Loprest, Josh Mitchell, Mary Cunningham, Genevieve Kenney, Elaine Maag, Heather Sandstrom, Kelly Devers

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Can California Teacher Pensions Be Distributed More Fairly? (Research Report)
Richard W. Johnson, Benjamin G. Southgate

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System has been grossly underfunded for the past decade. State policymakers have responded by cutting plan benefits for new hires and raising teachers’ required plan contributions. These changes, however, have undermined teachers’ retirement income security. Only 35 percent of new hires will receive pensions worth more than the value of their required plan contributions. Most new hires would have better financial outcomes if they could opt out of the mandatory retirement plan and invest their contributions elsewhere. Additional plan reforms should focus on changing the benefit formula to distribute pensions more equitably across the workforce.

Posted to Web: December 05, 2014Publication Date: December 05, 2014

Literature Review in Brief: Healthcare Occupational Training and Support Programs under the Affordable Care Act (Research Brief)
Randall R. Bovbjerg, Shayne Spaulding

This brief highlights key points from the report Literature Review: Healthcare Occupational Training and Support Programs under the ACA—Background and Implications for Evaluating HPOG regarding the structure of and employment trends in the healthcare industry, implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for entry-level employment in healthcare, and resulting challenges and opportunities for training and support programs. The brief was developed as part of the HPOG Implementation, Systems and Outcome Project, which is being led by Abt Associates in partnership with the Urban Institute.

Posted to Web: November 20, 2014Publication Date: November 20, 2014

Designing a Home Visiting Framework for Families in Public and Mixed-Income Communities (Research Report)
Marla McDaniel, Caroline Heller, Gina Adams, Susan J. Popkin

Though young children in public and mixed-income housing are exposed to some of the deepest poverty and developmental and educational risks in the United States, they are usually out of reach of many interventions that might help. Home visiting programs hold promise for helping vulnerable families, but most are not designed to fully address the needs of public and mixed-income housing residents. This brief describes important issues that program planners and early childhood leaders should consider when designing appropriate and responsive home visiting programs that reach young children in these communities.

Posted to Web: October 30, 2014Publication Date: October 30, 2014

Child Care Assistance for Parents in Education and Training: Executive Summary (Research Brief)
Gina Adams, Caroline Heller, Shayne Spaulding, Teresa Derrick-Mills

New economic realities have focused attention on how to best design workforce development strategies to help low-wage and low-skill workers succeed. Lack of child care is one important barrier that can make it difficult for low-income parents to successfully participate in workforce development programs that help people find jobs, job readiness activities, and supportive services. This brief focuses on one element of this barrier: the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), the federal and state child care assistance program. It examines CCDF eligibility policies and services for parents who need child care to participate in education and training activities.

Posted to Web: October 09, 2014Publication Date: October 09, 2014

Balancing School, Work, and Family: Low-Income Parents' Participation in Education and Training (Research Report)
Lauren Eyster, Thomas Callan, Gina Adams

A key policy concern is how to best help low-income individuals gain the skills and credentials they need to find a well-paying job. However, low-income parents in particular may face certain barriers, such as access to reliable child care. This brief uses nationally-representative data to examine the education and training participation of low-income parents and understand their personal and family characteristics, both for those who do and do not engage in education and training. The brief discusses implications for workforce development and child care policy and programs to better support these parents as they balance school, work and family responsibilities.

Posted to Web: October 08, 2014Publication Date: October 08, 2014

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