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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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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

Data Use for Continuous Quality Improvement: What the Head Start Field Can Learn from Other Disciplines A Literature Review and Conceptual Framework (Research Report)
Teresa Derrick-Mills, Heather Sandstrom, Sarah L. Pettijohn, Saunji Fyffe, Jeremy Koulish

This report summarizes research on the processes, facilitators, and impediments to data use for continuous quality improvement; develops a conceptual framework representing the elements of data use for continuous quality improvement; provides linkages between the disciplines from which the literature was drawn and the Head Start field; and suggests areas for future research. The review reflects seminal and current works that originate in empirical and professional sources in the fields of educational leadership and management, health care management, nonprofit leadership and management, public management, and organizational learning and development. The resulting conceptual framework describes the elements of leadership, analytic capacity, commitment of resources, professional development, a culture of collaborative inquiry, a continuous cycle, organizational characteristics, and environmental characteristics.

Posted to Web: January 22, 2015Publication Date: January 22, 2015

Does Increasing Reliance on Student Debt Explain Declines in Entrepreneurial Activity?: Posing the Question, Gathering Evidence, Considering Policy Options (Research Report)
Sandy Baum

Concerns about declining entrepreneurial activity, rising student debt, and the possible relationship between the two deserve attention. New business enterprises can support innovation and increase employment, so any trend that might be interfering with individuals’ opportunities to take risks, finance start-ups, and build enterprises is worth exploring.

Posted to Web: January 22, 2015Publication Date: January 22, 2015

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