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In This Issue:

UTD-ERC Recognized by Top Federal Education Officials
Oct. 1 Seminar - Top 10% Plan & Property Values
Miller Discusses High School Reform
Imberman Named NAEd Postdoctoral Fellow
Researcher Profile - Pamela Paek
Data Holdings Update

UTD-ERC Recognized by Top Federal Education Officials

Two of the nation’s top education officials recently highlighted work under way at The University of Texas at Dallas Education Research Center (UTD-ERC).

Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education, and John Easton, director of the Institute for Education Sciences(IES), praised the center at a conference sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Speaking to attendees about the power of data in guiding school reform, Duncan recommended the Texas ERC policy on enforcing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as a model for those constructing state data systems.

“Even under the current rules, FERPA doesn't pose insurmountable barriers to research,” he said. “A carefully constructed data system that separates personal information while providing the data researchers need is not an abstraction. It's being done in Texas and other states where researchers have access to as much data as they need to advance reforms without exposing students' personal information. The Texas data system has been cited as a model policy by the Department of Education's Family Policy Compliance Office. I hope you use it as a resource as you continue your own work.”

Separately, Easton spoke about the “ocean of data” available from longitudinal systems that link individual student information from pre-kindergarten through college and into the workforce, remarking that many researchers and practitioners may feel they’re drowning in this new data. He pointed to the importance of “developing mutually beneficial partnerships among researchers, practitioners and policy leaders” when it comes to using the data to answer questions relevant to education policy and practice.

In defining the technical assistance role of the so-called regional education labs (RELs), Easton highlighted the work of Edvance Research and the UTD-ERC.

“Our lab in the Southwest, operated by Edvance Research, is leading the way on this with a project that is near and dear to my heart . . . REL Southwest and . . . the University of Texas at Dallas’ Education Research Center are partnering with 18 school districts, which collectively enroll about 1.2 million Texas students.” (For more information on the Texas Consortium on School Research, click here.)

The UTD-ERC is one of Texas’ three designated education research centers that receive individual level, de-identified student data. Our data repository of more than 1.4 billion records includes information on more than 11 million Texas students and 7 million college students.

”Texas leads the way when it comes to the depth, breadth, and availability of its education data. Over recent years, we have worked hard to ensure research with this data is both compliant with privacy laws and relevant to state policy and practice,” said Dan O’Brien, director of Texas Schools Project and the UTD-ERC. “This national recognition by both Secretary Duncan and Dr. Easton provides our staff and management team great encouragement as we continue in our work to inform and improve education in Texas.”

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Oct. 1 Seminar - Top 10% Plan & Property Values

"Ranking Up by Moving Out: The Effect of the Texas Top 10% Plan on Property Values"
Friday, October 1
12-1pm
Green Hall, Room 3.606

In an effort to increase diversity among students at state universities, Texas implemented a policy in 1997, which is referred to as the Top 10% Plan. This policy guarantees automatic admission to state universities for high school seniors who graduate in the top decile of their class.

At the October 1 Texas Schools Project seminar, Kalena Cortes, assistant professor at Syracuse University, will share her study of household reactions to this policy and the resulting effects on property values and housing unit numbers.

For more information about this seminar or to view the schedule of upcoming seminars, click here.

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Miller Discusses High School Reform

Luke Miller, research associate with The Urban Institute, presented his study, "Increasing College Readiness: High School Reform in North Carolina," at the September Texas Schools Project Seminar.

Miller's work looks at three reform models implemented in North Carolina - Highs Schools that Work, Redesigned High Schools, and Early College High Schools - each designed to increase college preparatory course-taking, particularly in math and science, among student subgroups with historically low enrollment rates in these courses and low college enrollment rates.

To view Dr. Miller's presentation, click here.

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Imberman Named NAEd Postdoctoral Fellow

Scott Imberman, assistant professor of economics at the University of Houston, has been named a National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow. The award will fund Imberman's JAB-approved research, which investigates how English speaking students are affected by sharing classrooms with students who have limited English proficiency.

Imberman is one of 20 fellows selected nationally from a competitive pool of 160 scholars in education. He and another researcher in this select group, Stella Flores, are both using UTD-ERC data in their JAB-approved projects. (See the Summer 2010 E-Newsletter for Flores' announcement.)

The fellowships, administered by the NAEd, are designed to enhance the future of education research by developing new talent.
(read more)

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Researcher Profile - Pamela Paek

Pamela Paek is a senior associate with the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment (NCIEA), where she helps states and districts foster improved teaching and learning through improved practices in educational assessment and accountability.

Prior to joining NCIEA, Pam led a major project for the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin that investigated practices in urban school districts that have shown promise for improving student achievement in mathematics, specifically those in underserved groups, such as minority students, economically disadvantaged students, English-language learners, and students with disabilities. A common thread in her work has been to better utilize research and policy to inform practices at all educational levels.

Pamela has been published in a multitude of scholarly journals, including Educational Measurement: Issues & Practice, the Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation and the Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership. Her research includes studies of the relationship of teaching practices to student achievement, variation in mathematical problem solving strategies, and teacher use of assessment data to inform practice and improve student learning. She has also presented most recently on two important topics, practices for improving student achievement and tools for improving student assessment, at a number of conferences and meetings throughout the country.

Assessing the progress of students with disabilities on the general and alternate Texas assessments is one of Dr. Paek’s current research initiatives. Using UTD-ERC data, her JAB-approved project, “Measuring Growth for Students with Disabilities: A Portrait of their Rates of Growth and the Impact on School Accountability,” will document students’ growth on such assessments. These analyses will provide essential descriptive information about the landscape as well as current rates of academic growth of students with disabilities among various disability categories. It will be the first work of this kind nationally. The goal of the study is to identify patterns of typical and atypical growth at both the student and school levels to better understand what is typical for students both with and without disabilities.

“A main part of this work is empirically documenting what’s possible. Exploration of growth is not complete without developing an understanding of a reasonable growth expectation. Before one can begin to consider what amount of progress is 'good enough,' it is critical to explore what is possible. This is particularly true for students with disabilities, whose academic achievement generally falls below that of students without documented disabilities and for whom there are questions about opportunity to learn,” said Dr. Paek.

Pamela holds a doctoral degree in quantitative methods in education from the University of California, Berkeley.

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Data Holdings Update - September 30, 2010

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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A research center within The University of Texas at Dallas' School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences