CEPA Undergraduate Research Program

The Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) is seeking undergraduate research assistants (RAs) to work directly with CEPA faculty on active research projects supported by The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE). Applications will be reviewed as received. Once decisions have been made, applicants will be notified by their faculty mentor.

Eligibility: The CEPA URP program is only open to current Stanford University undergraduates. Students must be enrolled in undergraduate studies in the quarter when they apply for the grant and carry an undergraduate status throughout the period of their project. Selection of RAs will be based on the student’s expressed interest in the project and the fit between faculty needs and student skill sets. Experience working with quantitative data using STATA statistical software is preferred but not required.

Application Process: Students should provide the faculty mentor of the project of interest a resume, an unofficial Stanford transcript, and a one-page cover letter describing the applicant’s interest in education policy, previous research experience including any experience with quantitative analyses, and indicate the particular research project/s the student is interested in working on.

Faculty projects and student responsibilities 

Mentor: Jelena Obradovic
Quarters: Winter, Spring, Summer
Project: Early childhood intervention to disrupt disproportionality in preschool exclusionary discipline and special education referrals 
Dr. Jelena Obradović (https://sparklab.stanford.edu) is seeking a research assistant (RA) to work on projects at the Stanford Center on Early Childhood (https://earlychildhood.stanford.edu). Specifically, the RA will contribute to research on San Francisco Unified School District’s (SFUSD) Shoestrings program, a 10-week intensive early childhood intervention designed to reduce disproportionate experiences of exclusionary discipline and referral to special education for emotional disturbance for students of color, especially Black students. The research assistant will help to compile and manage multiple qualitative and quantitative data sources related to this intervention and will participate in transcription and qualitative analysis of interviews. The ideal candidate will have an interest in early childhood education and racial equity, strong organization and communication skills, and great attention to detail. 

Mentor: Jelena Obradovic
Quarters: Winter, Spring, Summer
Project: San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Early Education Programs: Links with Academic and Social-Emotional Outcomes Through Grade 5
Dr. Jelena Obradović (https://sparklab.stanford.edu) is seeking a research assistant who will work with the current data manager to assist with data cleaning, processing, and analysis of SFUSD administrative data. Her team is creating longitudinal panels of data that include children’s enrollment and attendance in early childhood education programs as well as K–5 classrooms, measures of classroom and teacher quality, and measures of social and emotional learning and academic skills across multiple cohorts of children. The research assistant will gain practical experience in quantitative research and will learn about standardized early childhood social-emotional assessments and early childhood development. They will contribute to study documentation and assist with data cleaning and linking data sources. The ideal candidate will have an interest in early childhood education or developmental psychology, great organization and communication skills, and strong attention to detail. Knowledge of R is required.

Mentor: Ben Domingue
Quarters: Winter, Spring
Project: Data use issues associated with construction of the Item Response Warehouse
Dr Ben Domingue [https://profiles.stanford.edu/benjamin-domingue] is seeking a research assistant (RA) to work on the construction of a large database. We have begun initial work on constructing a database of item response warehouses [https://osf.io/preprints/psyarxiv/7bd54/]. This database collects data from a range of disciplines but with a common focus on measurement of latent variables (e.g., affect, personality, academic aptitude, etc). The project is designed to improve psychometrics research by making a large set of data resources available to the research community in a standardized format. We seek an RA to assist with two issues pertaining to the construction of this database. 1. Management of licensing issues associated with reposting (in updated format) of public data. This will involve documenting the original license and communicating with license holders as needed to manage resharing. 2. Identification and reformatting of data for inclusion in the database. Examples of data already in the database can be found at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nhPyvuAm3JO8c9oa1swPvQZghAvmnf4xlYgbvsFH99s/edit#gid=87478523. The ideal candidate will have some combination of interests in data, measurement in psychological/social science, and open science issues. 

Mentor: Sean Reardon
Quarters: Winter, Spring
Project: Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) 
The Educational Opportunity Project (EOP) at Stanford University uses a range of data on educational conditions, contexts, and outcomes to help scholars, policy makers, educators, and the general public learn about the landscape of educational opportunity and academic achievement in the US. The EOP houses two main initiatives: 1. The Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA): SEDA is the first 11-year national database of academic performance based on nearly 450 million 3-8th grade math and reading and language arts test scores from the 2008-2019 school years. We hope that researchers, practitioners, and policy makers will utilize SEDA to generate evidence about what policies and practices are most effective at increasing educational opportunity. 2. EOP NYSED Equity Indicators Project: We are partnering with the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to construct a series of equity indicators using longitudinal teacher, student, and staff level data. These indicators will help us better understand the landscape of educational equity across NY state and inform system-level changes to improve equitable access to educational opportunity.

The EOP RA will be responsible for assisting on current projects that include the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA), the EOP NYSED Equity Indicators Project, and/or work on the Segregation Index project, an initiative jointly run by Professor Reardon and Professor Ann Owens at USC. The RA may also have the opportunity to research and prepare a report on their own topic of interest related to the work of the EOP – past topics include educational opportunity in Puerto Rico, student opt-out, and broadband access. Conducting online background research on relevant topics and writing literature reviews; collecting, cleaning, and organizing data for preliminary analyses; producing memos and data reports for various projects; collaborating with EOP research staff, partners, and other RAs; outreach (via email, phone, and conference calls) to stakeholders; supporting the promotion of the EOP's work through social media and the EOP website. Interest in education, education policy, and social and educational inequality is desirable. Quantitative skills, such as data cleaning, data analysis, and programming in Stata also desired but not required. Strong ability to work independently, comfort taking initiative, and attention to detail is an asset.

Mentor: Francis Pearman
Quarters: Winter, Spring, Summer
Abstract:  The purpose of this project is to study patterns and outcomes related to school closures, with an eye toward generating insights and tools that can help district leaders prioritize racial equity, including the needs, rights, and preferences of underserved communities when making decisions about if, how, when, and where to close school sites. With this project, we propose to explore the issue of school closures through a racial equity lens. We intend to build upon existing and emerging research, exploring the answers to the following research questions: What are historical patterns of school closures nationwide, and which student groups and neighborhoods, by racial demographics, have closures most impacted? Which districts and communities are at the greatest risk of school closures, given current and projected enrollment trends? What policy alternatives exist for districts considering school closures?

RAs will assist in conducting literature searches, cleaning data, writing literature reviews, and will help conduct descriptive analyses. Prior research assistants have also been co-authors of published reports. Qualified students will have an interest in education and education policy. The ability to work independently, take initiative, and pay close attention to detail are key requirements for this position. Experience using quantitative datasets is desirable but not required for this position.