Racial, socioeconomic, and gender disparities in academic performance and educational attainment are stubborn features of the U.S. educational system. These disparities are neither inevitable nor immutable, however. They have been produced by—and so may also be reduced by—a welter of social and economic policies, social norms and patterns of interaction, and the organization of American schooling.

The Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) is an initiative aimed at harnessing data to help us—scholars, policymakers, educators, parents—learn how to improve educational opportunity for all children. We are making the data files public so that anyone who is interested can obtain detailed information about American schools, communities, and student success. We hope that researchers will use these to generate evidence about what policies and contexts are most effective at increasing educational opportunity, and that such evidence will inform educational policy and practices.

SEDA includes a range of detailed data on educational conditions, contexts, and outcomes in schools and school districts across the United States. It includes data at a range of institutional and geographic levels of aggregation, including schools, districts, counties, commuting zones, metropolitan areas, and states. It includes measures of academic achievement, achievement gaps, school and neighborhood racial and socioeconomic composition, school and neighborhood racial and socioeconomic segregation patterns, and other features of the schooling system. The data will be regularly updated as more data become available.

Prior to entering kindergarten, most young children in the United States today participate in childcare or educational programs provided by someone other than a family member. These high rates of participation have been facilitated by rapid increases in public investment. Given the heightened public investment in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programs and the clear push towards expanding program access, it is surprising how little we know about the current availability of ECEC and its effects. The highly decentralized nature of the ECEC sector and the related absence of a comprehensive source of data about ECEC providers have left policy-makers with a fragmented understanding about the availability of programs. This project is designed both to enhance our understanding of ECEC availability in the United States and to shed light on the relationship between the expansion of ECEC and the educational opportunities and outcomes for children.

CEPA Labs is a branch of the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) at Stanford University focused on the intersection of technology, information and behavior change. CEPA Labs has three primary goals. The first is to generate new theories on why some educators -- broadly defined to include parents, teachers and school administrators -- fail to take up or under-invest in educational practices with demonstrated benefits. The second goal of CEPA Labs is to test these theories by conducting experimental and quasi-experimental research on information technologies designed to minimize the barriers associated with the full uptake of beneficial practices. CEPA Labs’ third goal is to significantly expand access to these technologies, both nationally and internationally.

To pursue these goals, CEPA Labs will engage in four activities. First, it will rapidly expand and experimentally test Ready4K, a text messaging program for parents of preschoolers with demonstrated efficacy. Second, CEPA Labs will partner with education technology organizations such as GreatSchools to test behavior change theories in a broad range of information technology environments. Third, the Labs will, independently and/or with its partners, develop and test new information technologies, such as web and mobile applications and wearable devices. Finally, CEPA Labs will convene researchers and practitioners with interests in these new approaches to refine understandings and develop strategies for future learning.

Americans have long had a deep and abiding belief that education is the engine of opportunity in the United States. Schools, we believe, provide an opportunity for children—no matter their sex, their race, where their parents come from, or how meager their resources—to learn, to flourish, and to achieve the American Dream. There is truth to this belief: education in America has helped provide opportunities for millions of U.S. children, many of whom were not born and raised in advantaged conditions. But this truth is tempered by a large body of evidence demonstrating large racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and, in some cases, gender disparities in educational success. This suggests that historically not all children in the United States have had equal access to the American Dream. Our educational system has provided opportunity, but has not always provide it equally.

The goal of the Educational Opportunity Monitoring Project is to use the best available data to clarify patterns and trends in the equality of educational opportunities and outcomes in the United States. Patterns of educational inequality have changed over time; they vary among states and school districts; they take different forms among students at different ages; and their trends in different population groups are not the same. Some aspects of educational inequality have been improving; others have worsened. A detailed understanding of these patterns and trends is essential both for understanding the causes of educational inequalities and for designing strategies to eliminate them.

Racial and Ethnic Achievement Gaps

US higher education is undergoing profound change. How Americans fund, govern, assess, and experience college all are in flux. The changes are particularly dramatic for broad-access colleges with open admissions that educate the vast majority of college students. Broad-access colleges do their work within a complex ecology of competitor schools and other educational firms, government funding programs, and myriad regulatory agencies. Our project is designed to help researchers, students, and policymakers understand, navigate, and shape this ecology productively.

"Getting Down to Facts" is a research project of more than 20 studies designed to provide California’s citizens with comprehensive information about the status of the state’s school finance and governance systems.

Over an 18 months period from September 2005 to March 2007, the Getting Down to Facts Project brought together an extraordinary array of scholars from 32 institutions with diverse expertise and policy orientations. It represents an unprecedented attempt to synthesize what we know as a basis for convening the necessary public conversations about what we should do. “Getting Down to Facts” was specifically requested by the Governor’s Committee on Education Excellence, former Secretary of Education Alan Bersin, the President pre Tem of the California Senate, the Speaker of the California Assembly, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The project is not designed to recommend specific policies. Rather it aims to provide common ground for understanding the current state of California school finance and governance and for a serious and substantive conversation about necessary reforms.

In June 2008, the voters of San Francisco passed the Quality Teacher and Education Act (QTEA), which made changes to teacher compensation, support, and accountability. In collaboration with SFUSD, researchers have documented the passage of the policy and are engaged in a multi-year evaluation. The research questions for this study aim to uncover how QTEA is being implemented and how the policy affects the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers, the overall improvement of the teacher workforce, and the improvement or removal of less effective teachers.

School Leadership Research study examines the career paths of principals and teachers, district policies that affect the distribution of human resources across schools, and the impact of educator characteristics and mobility patterns on student outcomes. The research covers a broad range of issues in school leadership, including school leadership labor markets, school leadership preparation, how school leaders are distributed across schools, and school leadership retention, particularly in urban, low-performing schools. The research is funded by organizations interested in evaluating existing education policies in order to identify ways to improve those policies or develop new policies as needed. We have received financial support from The Institute of Education Sciences, The Spencer Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, and the Stanford University K-12 Education Initiative.

This study is a randomized trial of a social-psychological intervention designed to promote the academic performance of minority students by buffering them against stereotype threat. A large body of lab-experimental evidence and several recent field-experimental studies suggest that the anxiety experienced by minority students in evaluative settings when a stereotyped social identity is salient (i.e., stereotype threat) compromises cognitive performance. This replication study examines the efficacy of a writing intervention in reducing achievement gaps among middle school students. Professor Thomas S. Dee is directing this study with support from the Spencer Foundation and the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

Teacher Policy Research (TPR) is a research partnership between the University of Virginia, Stanford University and the University at Albany that examines the behavior of teachers and administrators with the goal of developing policies that will attract and retain high-quality teachers and leaders, especially in low-performing schools. The research covers a broad range of issues in teacher policy, including teacher preparation, teacher labor market institutions, how teachers are distributed across schools, and teacher retention, particularly in urban, low performing schools. We have received financial support from the Carnegie Corporation, the City University of New York, The National Science Foundation, the New York State Department of Education, The Smith Richardson Foundation, The Spencer Foundation, the Noyce Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.