Georgia State University Receives Nearly $4 Million To Fund New Education Policy Research Center
ATLANTA—Georgia State University has received $3.9 million to create the Georgia Center for Education Policy, a collaboration between the university’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and government leaders that aims to improve academic, career and life outcomes for students across the state.
Led by economist and Distinguished University Professor Tim Sass, the new center will help kindergarten through 12th grade school superintendents and school boards, career and technical education commissioners, and other public education officials design evidence-based policies.
The Georgia Center for Education Policy will work with school districts and state agencies to identify research priorities, analyze existing policies, design enhanced programs and train public officials at the Andrew Young School on how to embed evaluation into decision-making. Funded by a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, it will house two major initiatives: the Metropolitan Atlanta Policy Lab for Education (MAPLE) directed by Sass, and a multi-state Career and Technical Education Policy Exchange (CTEx) directed by economist Dan Kreisman, an assistant professor in the Andrew Young School.
MAPLE will partner with four of Georgia’s six largest school districts that serve more than 468,000 students: Gwinnett County Public Schools, DeKalb County School District, Fulton County Public Schools and Atlanta Public Schools. The district leaders and members of the MAPLE team will use research to develop efforts focused on improving student achievement, graduation rates and career training programs. The center will also analyze programs intended to recruit and retain teachers in an effort to ensure students receive a high-quality education regardless of where they live or attend school.
“MAPLE will use cutting-edge research methods to evaluate current policies and determine potential new policy initiatives to improve outcomes such as attendance, discipline, test scores and graduation rates,” Sass said. “Our goal is to reduce dropout rates, increase post-secondary enrollment and give all students the opportunity to live productive, successful lives.”
In conjunction with MAPLE’s work, the center will start a second initiative focused on career and technical education (CTE). Over the past decade, enrollment in CTE programs has grown due to factors such as the labor market demand for skilled workers. There are a number of technical education models and programs. However, educators know very little about how well these programs work. CTEx—in partnership with school districts in Atlanta, CTE systems in Arkansas, Tennessee and Michigan, and researchers from the University of Connecticut, the University of Tennessee and the University of Michigan—will analyze the impact of CTE programs and share their findings with policymakers across the country.
“More students enroll in CTE courses during high school than in any other subject except language arts and math,” said Sass. “We want to understand what determines quality in the CTE courses and how to improve it. We also want to know how participation in these courses may affect students’ later education choices. For example, are they more or less likely to enroll in post-secondary education?”
“Demand for these programs is growing among students and employers, yet we have little research to tell us what works and what doesn't,” Kreisman said. “We will answer a host of important questions that will inform state and federal policies moving forward. Ultimately, we’d like to know what impact participation in CTE has on a student’s career choices and earnings.”