UT Dallas’ Texas Schools Project Designated
Official State Education Research Center
UT Dallas One of Three Texas Universities to Receive $650K Grant
To Establish Centers for Research on Education Data
April 23, 2007
The Texas Schools Project (TSP) at The University of Texas at Dallas has received an official designation as a State of Texas Education Research Center from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Education Agency. TSP personnel and collaborators from University of Texas System campuses in Austin and San Antonio received a $650,000 grant to expand operations at the center, one of the premier organizations in the nation involved in research on the educational process and its consequences.
TSP was one of three centers in Texas to receive such a designation, which clears the way for the organizations to collect, store and utilize data on public school students, teachers, and schools for research purposes. The other centers are located at Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin School of Education.
“Since its founding in 1992, TSP has been recognized nationally for its expertise in managing longitudinal research data on education,” said Dr. Paul A. Jargowsky, an associate professor of political economy at UT Dallas and director of the center. “Today’s development will provide continuing access to data from the public education system, as well as funds necessary to upgrade our computer systems, hire additional staff and expand our dissemination activities, providing an unparalleled resource for research on education. This grant ensures that Texas will continue to be a national leader in using student data for academic research on educational achievement and program evaluation.”
Today, TSP maintains more than one billion records on approximately 26 million individuals, including data for more than 10 million students enrolled in Texas public schools between 1990 and 2002 and more than 4.5 million state residents who attended colleges and universities between 1991 and 2005. According to Jargowsky, all personally identifying information is removed from the data, ensuring complete confidentiality of the records, and the data are used solely to conduct research on educational achievement and the effectiveness of various programs and policies. Access to the data is strictly limited to TSP staff and qualified researchers.
The center receives its data from multiple Texas state agencies, school districts, and other sources and includes such information as students’ grades, test scores and disciplinary actions – in some cases from pre-kindergarten through college – as well as employment and earnings data records for those who move into the workforce. By accessing the TSP database, researchers can determine, for example, how high school graduates from a particular school district fared in college and beyond, and how that compares with their counterparts in other school districts across the state and around the nation.
“The expert use of such data can reveal what does and does not work in educating our young people,” said Dr. W. Lee Holcombe, director of evaluation and special projects for TSP. “Those results can then be provided to educational administrators and policymakers to enable informed decisions on how to improve academic achievement among K-12 public school students and students enrolled in post-secondary education, and improve outcomes as those students enter the labor market. By being designated an official State of Texas Education Research Center, the TSP can serve as a platform for high-quality research on the public education system.”
Improving the quality of education provided to low-income and minority students has been a particular focus of the center, Holcombe said, and will continue to be a priority as the center expands.
Cooperating with TSP on the new education research center will be three organizations based at UT Austin – the Charles A. Dana Center, the National Center for Educational Accountability and the Ray Marshall Center – as well as the Institute for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research at UT San Antonio. The center plans to host annual conferences on research findings, create a web site to disseminate such findings and publish annual reports on the center’s activities. The center will also serve as a convenient point of access to public education data for other researchers and organizations whose research projects are approved by a committee to be established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Education Agency.
About UT Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UT Dallas, please visit the university’s website at www.utdallas.edu.
Contact Steve McGregor, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2293, [email protected]