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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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How Head Start Grantees Set and Use School Readiness Goals (Research Report)
Julia Isaacs, Heather Sandstrom, Monica Rohacek, Christopher Lowenstein, Olivia Healy, Maeve Gearing

The School Readiness Goals and Head Start Program Functioning project examined how local Head Start and Early Head Start grantees set school readiness goals, how they collect and analyze data to track progress toward goals, and how they use these data in program planning and practice to improve program functioning. Based on a telephone survey with 73 grantees and follow-up site visits to 11 grantees, it found that grantees have largely embraced the school readiness goals requirement but were still learning to analyze and interpret school readiness data. It is accompanied by a research brief of the same title.

Posted to Web: January 30, 2015Publication Date: January 29, 2015

Distributional Effects of the President's New Tax Proposals (Research Report)
Leonard E. Burman, Ngan Phung

The White House announced a package of tax proposals as part of what President Obama called “Middle Class Economics” in the State of the Union Address. This paper summarizes and discusses TPC’s distributional estimates, focusing on the distribution of all income tax cuts, the major tax cut provisions, and the largest tax increase provisions including the new fee on financial institutions. The tax cuts primarily benefit low-income single workers and working age households with children. The income tax increases primarily affect those with very high incomes and those with a substantial amount of capital assets.

Posted to Web: January 30, 2015Publication Date: January 30, 2015

Evaluation of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) (Research Report)
Hamutal Bernstein, Carlos Martin, Lauren Eyster, Theresa Anderson, Stephanie Owen, Ananda Martin-Caughey

The Urban Institute conducted an implementation and participant-outcomes evaluation of the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP). ANSEP is a multi-stage initiative designed to prepare and support Alaska Native students from middle school through graduate school to succeed in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. The findings inform ANSEP’s programming and provide lessons for other STEM education programs that serve underrepresented minorities nationwide.

Posted to Web: January 26, 2015Publication Date: January 26, 2015

Absenteeism in DC Public Schools Early Education Program (Research Report)
Lisa Dubay, Nikhil Holla

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.

Posted to Web: January 26, 2015Publication Date: January 26, 2015

Insights into Absenteeism in DCPS Early Childhood Program (Research Report)
Michael Katz, Gina Adams, Martha C. Johnson

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.

Posted to Web: January 26, 2015Publication Date: January 26, 2015

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