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In This Issue:
2009 was a busy year for the UT Dallas Education Research Center (UTD-ERC), which included developing key relationships with state agencies and education organizations. By year end, more than 20 approved research projects were underway.
Because a good number of these projects involve work with state agencies and other Austin-based organizations, it became apparent that an Austin office would provide many benefits.
One key element to opening an Austin office was finding someone to head up the office – someone highly knowledgeable in education data and research, who had worked extensively with state agencies and could serve in a leadership capacity within the organization.
Texas Schools Project was fortunate to bring Dr. Anne Ware on board to lead the Austin office. Ware, previously Executive Director of the Office of Accountability for Austin ISD, has over 20 years experience working with Texas education data and research. Her work has been published in a variety of scholarly journals and she has presented papers to a multitude of educational audiences throughout her career.
The first project for the Austin office will be a major professional development study, which will assess the implementation and impact of a series of professional development programs developed under Rider 42 of the 81st Texas legislative session. These programs address classroom instruction in the core curriculum areas.
“What's exciting about this study is that our research team will be able to follow the PD programs from the beginning. As such, we’ll be able to focus on the process of the professional development and identify conditions and best practices that support successful PD,” commented Ware.
The study is in the design phase now and will include a comprehensive set of research activities including observations of training sessions, interviews, surveys, classroom observations and analyses of student achievement data. Texas Schools Project will be hiring an independent contractor to conduct much of the work.
In addition to conducting various research projects to inform education practice and policy, the Austin office will also serve as a central Texas remote access site for both researchers who have received JAB approval to work with UTD-ERC data and the National Center for Educational Achievement, an original UTD-ERC contract partner.
The anticipated opening date for the Austin office is late March.
Texas Schools Project continues its regular 2009-2010 Seminar Series with a presentation by Dr. Karen Watt, Director of AVID’s Special Research Projects Office:
Wednesday, March 3
Dr. Watt will share information about state and national studies conducted on the AVID program and its students. These studies include research on AVID as a Comprehensive School Reform model in Texas, AVID and GEAR UP students’ aspirations and anticipations for college, AVID professional development and leadership, and much more.
For more information about Dr. Watt and her presentation, go to the Events page of our website.
For future planning, these seminars generally occur on the first Wednesday and third Friday of each month.
Using panel data from a large urban school district, Dr. Scott Imberman, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Houston, presented his study of the impact of school uniforms on student outcomes. The study, which was co-authored with UH economics Ph.D. student Elisabetta Gentile, was presented at a recent Texas Schools Project seminar.
“While in 1996 only 3% of public schools required school uniforms, that percent grew significantly to 14% in 2005 – a pretty substantial increase in less than ten years,” commented Imberman. “A significant amount of this growth was seen in urban school districts such as New York City, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Boston.”
Imberman cited many reasons for the adoption of school uniform policies. “One of the most commonly argued benefits of school uniforms is the idea that they provide regimentation, which translates into a respect for authority,” he said. Other reasons discussed include safety, being part of a community, and increasing students’ feelings of fitting in.
“Middle and high school is where we really see some interesting potential impacts of uniforms. For girls we notice that there’s a modest but significant increase in attendance rates,” said Imberman. “We see a weaker but similar effect for males.”
The effects of school uniform policies on disciplinary infractions, student achievement, and student movement were also discussed. “We do see a decent improvement in language scores for girls in middle and high school grades . . . If we look over time, you see a much richer picture. Two years after adoption, we also see some improvements in math scores for both males and females,” he shared.
Slides and a video of Dr. Imberman’s presentation can be found on the Events page of our website.
Stella Flores is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education at Vanderbilt University. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Dr. Flores served as a program evaluator for the U.S. General Accountability Office and as a program specialist for the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has also interned at the Texas Legislature and a number of city governments in Texas.
Areas of specialization for Dr. Flores include college access and persistence, state and federal financial aid policies, and Latino and immigrant students. She holds an Ed.D. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy with a concentration in Higher Education from Harvard University.
Dr. Flores’ research has appeared in numerous books and scholarly journals such as The Review of Higher Education and the Journal of College Student Retention.
Currently, Dr. Flores is working on two studies using UTD-ERC data, “The Status of College Access and Success in Texas across Varied Policy Contexts: Implications for Underserved Students at the Turn of the Century” and “The Role of the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) in Texas: The Access to Completion Pipeline for Hispanic Students.”
“The Status of College Access and Success in Texas across Varied Policy Contexts” looks to examine the characteristics and challenges faced by students in Texas higher education, focusing on those who have been traditionally underserved: low-income, minority, English language learner, and immigrant students. Her analyses will provide detailed assessments of trends and outcomes throughout distinct and relevant policy periods affecting Texas higher education since the mid-1990s.
“The Role of the Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS) in Texas” will investigate the college enrollment and completion rates of the Hispanic population in Texas with emphasis on the institutions Hispanic students are most likely to attend – the Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and the community college. Comparisons to non-HSIs, institutions near this designation, and across different geographic regions will also be conducted.
Because of her focus on Hispanic students in both of these studies, using individual level Texas student data from the UTD-ERC was a natural fit. “The social, political, and economic trends in Texas are, in many ways, paralleled in the nation,” commented Dr. Flores. “With a rising Hispanic, immigrant and ELL population across the country, Texas stands to become a pioneer among the states in terms of its policies, programs, and institutions serving underrepresented students in higher education.”
Working with Dr. Flores on these two projects are Vanderbilt research assistants are Amanda Ochoa, Toby J. Park, and Sean Tierney.
The University of Texas at Dallas Education Research Center (UTD-ERC), part of Texas Schools Project, houses a wealth of data provided by the Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and State Board for Educator Certification.
A complete listing of current data available can be found on our website under Data Holdings.
Information on accessing this data can be found on our website under Access.
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