Center for Research on Educational Opportunity Research and Publications

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Charter School Authorization in Michigan

Based on Dr. Mark Berends and CREO’s partnership with the Michigan Department of Education, scholars are examin- ing variation in the forty charter school authorizers in Michigan, their effects on student achievement, and whether there might be metrics developed to monitor the progress of charter authorizers for improving student outcomes. 

Complexities of High School Tracking Effects on Inequality

Are changes in achievement inequality across several student cohorts (1980-2014) related to changes in high school tracking practices, structures, and effects? Dr. Mark Berends and co-principal investigator Dr. Samuel Lucas from the University of California-Berkley use nationally representative data to study whether changes in the structure of tracking—including the patterns and levels of scope, mobility, and selectivity—are associated with changes in socioeconomic and racial/ethnic achievement inequality. The study will turn the last several decades of data collection amidst policy changes into a coherent narrative of tracking, providing findings of relevance to policy, research, and practice. 

Educational Assortative Mating and Family Income Inequality across Changing Labor Markets

Education is increasingly critical in conferring social advantage. Such advantage is largely produced within families, a social unit that often forms when two individuals partner and start a household. In this assortative mating process, partners' similarity, or homogamy, by educational has increased over time even as homogamy by race-ethnicity, religion, and other social background characteristics has declined. Higher ((lower) levels of education garners higher (lower) labor market returns, so growing educational divisions imply greater economic divisions across households as well. Contemporary to observed increases in educational homogamy, local labor markets became more differentiated from one another over time by their educational and income composition as well as more internally segregated by education and income. Because the same geographic boundaries delineate labor and marriage markets, changes in the organization of local labor markets may explain observed increases in educational homogamy and link them with household income inequality. These possibilities are evaluated using longitudinal data for couples across different metropolitan labor markets over time.


Effects of School and Classroom Contexts on Student Achievement Gains in Indiana

Nationally, school and classroom integration policies are contested. Dr. Bill Carbonaro is examining whether (and how) the school and classroom context affects student learning for high and low income students. “Frog pond effects”—whether students have a relatively high or low rank relative to their classroom and school peers—are critical to understanding how different classroom and school contexts affect student outcomes. Yet, most data sets lack such information. With state administrative data from CREO’s partnership with Indiana DOE, this study is unique because of its ability to examine contextual effects, to track achievement growth within students, and to measure classroom- and school-level frog pond effects with great precision. 

Effects of School Choice in Indiana

Indiana has broadened its school choice offerings with its scholarship (voucher) program and expansion of charter schools. This project, led by Dr. Mark Berends, addresses the impacts of vouchers and charter schools on student achievement gains, engagement, high school graduation, and college atten- dance and graduation. The project also examines whether these impacts differ among groups, thus affecting the racial/ethnic and socioeconomic achievement gaps. The project analyzes six years of longitudinal, student-level demographic and test score records from CREO’s partnership with the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). 

How Family Background Shapes Long-Term Effects of School Readiness

Researchers have established the importance of “school readiness”—children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills when they enter school—for their long-term academic success. Dr. Bill Carbonaro is leading a study that analyzes nationally representative data to examine whether the effects of “school readiness” vary based on students’ family backgrounds. In particular, he is examining whether the achievement and behaviors of students from higher socioeconomic family backgrounds are less strongly affected by their school readiness than students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. 

Latino Students’ Pathways to College

Dr. Amy Langenkamp is leading a project that analyzes how race/ethnicity and social class influence students’ transition to college. Specifically, she is investigating the intersection of race and social class among Latinos using data from nationally representative surveys and interviews with Latino adolescents and parents. Findings from this project will identify distinctions in Latinos’ educational trajectory as well as elements that promote or inhibit college attendance and completion. 

The Indianapolis Peers and Transitions Study (IPAST)

Dr. Megan Andrew is the Principle Investigator of the Indianapolis Peers and School Transitions study.  This multi-year, longitudinal study aims to understand how adolescent peer networks develop over time and their impacts on students' decision-making and academic performance.  We evaluate peer networks and their impacts in the context of large and robust school choice programs in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The project is funded by the W.T. Grant Foundation and the Spencer Foundation.  We recently published a preliminary paper laying out our ideas in the journal of Social Science Research. 

In a separate, but related project, Dr. Andrew's team is using administrative data to study the families and students who elect to participate in the Indiana School Choice Scholarship program. one of the nation's largest school voucher programs. The team is interested in documenting differential rates of program participation and their institutional drivers.

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