Texas Schools Project Opens Austin Research Office

UT Dallas’ Texas Schools Project (TSP) has opened an office in Austin to make it easier for education researchers to access data.

TSP, which is designated as an Education Research Center by the state, is working with researchers involved in more than 20 projects aimed at better understanding educational needs and performance. Many of these projects involve work with state agencies and other Austin-based organizations, so TSP officials decided an Austin office would be beneficial.

TSP works with education researchers at universities in Texas and throughout the country to analyze relevant, policy-related questions.

Dr. Anne Ware was hired to lead the Austin office. Previously executive director of the Office of Accountability for the Austin Independent School District, Ware has more than 20 years of experience working with Texas education data and researchers. Her work has been published in a variety of journals, and she has presented papers at many educator conferences. She was a research psychologist and lecturer at UT Dallas from 1995 to 1998.

The first project for the Austin office will be an assessment of the implementation and effect of a series of far-reaching professional development programs. 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 professional development programs from the beginning,” Ware said. “We’ll be able to focus on the process of the professional development and identify conditions and best practices that support successful development programs.”

The study is in the design phase now and will include a comprehensive set of research activities including observing training sessions, interviews, surveys, classroom observations and analyzing student achievement data. TSP will hire an independent contractor to conduct much of the work.

Besides conducting various research projects to inform education practice and policy, the Austin office also will serve as a central Texas remote access site for researchers. TSP has a few remote access sites in educational organization facilities around the state, but those are only set up to enable researchers to electronically access data. This is the first office outside Dallas that will include both data access and on-site TSP staff to help with research projects.

TSP is part of the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, and UT Dallas is leasing the space on behalf of TSP. But all facility costs will be paid for through TSP grants.

Dr. Dan O’Brien, director of TSP, said the new Austin office will give researchers better access to the more than 500 million Texas education records available through TSP.

“High-quality education is paramount in our ability to prepare Texas students for either the workforce or higher education,” he said. “Research and evaluation are critical for developing  data-driven policy decisions to improve academic achievement and teacher effectiveness, increase transitions to and success in post-secondary education, and enhance labor market outcomes.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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