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The University of Chicago Urban Education Lab

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Projects by UEL Affiliates

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UEL Affiliates currently have a variety of projects underway that aim to improve our understanding, through rigorous experimental methods, of how best to address urban education and educational outcomes. These projects include:


COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS IN CHICAGO

DAVID FIGLIO

Lead by David Figlio of Northwestern University, CISC works together with some of the least advantaged schools in the city to connect students with services provided by community partners (e.g., LensCrafters provides vision screening and glasses to students in need in some schools.) CISC is planning to engage in large-scale school recruitment for inclusion of new schools into the program in 2012-13, and intends to randomly select schools from the list of qualified applicant schools. Figlio hopes to analyze data on student performance, student behavior/attendance, and residential location to better understand the ways in which a school's participation in the CISC program affects student cognitive and behavioral outcomes.

STRENGTHENING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT IN THE CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

JONATHAN GURYAN, PHILIP COOK, and JENS LUDWIG

A team led by Jonathan Guryan, Philip Cook, Jens Ludwig, with qualitative researchers Amy Claessens and Mimi Engel and educational psychologist Sandy Christenson, has raised nearly $7 million from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences, the National Institute of Health, and the William T. Grant Foundation to study the effects on school engagement from efforts to strengthen the social capital and supports to nearly 500 elementary and middle school students within CPS.

In partnership with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) the goal is to test the effectiveness of a manualized mentoring and case management intervention. Most of the current policy and research attention on dropout has focused on the dropout decision itself, even though dropout is more likely to be simply the end point of a longer-term developmental process. This experiment seeks to learn more about the relative effectiveness of preventing dropout by intervening early vs. late. The project is under way now and will provide services to more than 450 elementary and middle school students at 24 CPS schools over the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years. Jonathan Guryan of the Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research is leading this project, in collaboration with Duke Professor Philip Cook and UEL Director Jens Ludwig.

URBAN STUDENTS EMPOWERED

JONATHAN GURYAN, KIRBAO JACKSON, and JENS LUDWIG

Urban Students Empowered (US Empowered) is a Chicago-based non-profit organization that equips high school students in non-selective schools with tools necessary to enroll in and graduate from college. With only 18 percent of Chicago Public School ninth graders expected to enroll in four-year universities after high school and an even lower seven percent expected to graduate college by age 25, the higher education landscape for Chicago's youth is dismal. Founded in 2007, originally working with 30 students at three high schools, US Empowered now serves nearly 1,000 students in 20 Chicago high schools. A research plan to rigorously evaluate the efficacy, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of the US Empowered program is currently underway. The UEL research team is led by Jonathan Guryan, Kirabo Jackson, and Jens Ludwig.

EVALUATION OF PROJECT READS

JAMES KIM and JONATHAN GURYAN

Harvard Graduate School of Education Assistant Professor, and Urban Education Lab Affiliate, James Kim has received a $12.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program to conduct research on Project READS, a summer reading program model for low-income children in North Carolina.

Over the next five years, Kim will work with a team of researchers including Thomas White, senior research scientist at the University of Virginia Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning; and Jonathan Guryan, associate professor at Institute for Policy Research of Northwestern University and UEL affiliate, along with Communities In Schools of North Carolina and Durham Public Schools to implement, validate, and scale up an innovative approach to combat summer reading loss among low-income children. 

Project READS (Reading Enhances Achievement During the Summer) is designed to improve reading comprehension by providing children with books and promoting summer reading with teachers and parents. Kim and his team will evaluate the program through a series of randomized experiments involving up to 10 districts and 10,000 students. In the final year of the project, Kim will use data from the experiments to scale-up the most cost-effective version of the Project READS program.

EVALUATION OF A HOME-BASED OLPC INTERVENTION IN LIMA (PERU)

OFER MALAMUD

Peru has been a leader in adopting the One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC) model of educational technology. It has already distributed over 500,000 XO computers to school aged-children with plans to reach 1 million by the end of this year. Together with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and GRADE, we are conducting a randomization evaluation of the OLPC model across 28 low-performing schools in Lima, Peru. We are employing two-levels of randomization, both at the school-level and at the individual level within schools. Students in control schools do not receive any treatment; within treatment schools, only a random sample of students will receive computers. We are collecting information about computer use, computer literacy, cognitive skills, academic achievement, social networks, and socio-behavioral outcomes. This experimental design and survey will enable us to examine the effect of OLPC on a broad range of outcomes as well as the degree of spillovers across students. Future work will also explore the impact of internet provision on child outcomes.

EVALUATION OF THE "YO ELIJO MI PC" PROGRAM (CHILE)

OFER MALAMUD

“Yo Elijo mi PC” is a government program in Chile that is providing computers to 7th grade students with high academic achievement from disadvantaged households. The program was announced in May 2008 and approximately 150,000 computers have been distributed over three rounds in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The allocation of computers was based on strict cutoffs related to disadvantage on the Ficha de Protección Social (FPS) and academic achievement in 4th to 6th grade. Consequently, we are employing a regression discontinuity (RD) design to compare outcomes across children just above and just below the cutoffs, who have similar characteristics, but experienced different levels of program entitlements. We will examine the effect of receiving a home computer on later academic achievement in school and performance on the national examination (SIMCE) in Chile. Future work will also explore the incentive effects of providing home computers on grades.

COMPUTER-ASSISTED INDIVIDUALIZED INSTRUCTION FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE AND AT-RISK YOUTH

SUSAN MAYER and ROSEANNA ANDER

Thanks to a $35,000 planning grant from the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, Roseanna Ander and others are working with the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Chicago Public Schools and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office to explore the possibility of introducing a virtual high school diploma program that would provide youth who are at high risk for cycling between CPS and various DJJ and DOC correctional facilities with exposure to a consistent (and individually tailored) instructional program across these different institutions.

A series of concept papers and proposals are being developed which will each explore innovative educational practices, with the possibility of introducing a virtual and computer-based high school diploma program into one or more DJJ or DOC facilities. Any innovations or changes to the current correctional education system will be rigorously evaluated by UEL.

YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM EVALUATION

JAMES SPILLANE

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) recently awarded James Spillane, with co-principal investigators Brian Junker of Carnegie-Mellon University and Richard Correnti of the University of Pittsburgh, a $3.3 million grant for their four-year research study called Learning Leadership: Kernel Routines for Instructional Improvement. 

This new project will evaluate whether the Learning Walk®, a structured "walk-through" routine for school leaders, can make a difference for urban schools. This school leadership routine, developed by the Institute for Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, involves conducting brief visits to classrooms on a regular basis for the purpose of observing classroom instruction.

Spillane considers the Learning Walk a "kernel routine" because it is an organizational routine that has the potential to create long-term transformation by seeding and propagating new professional activity. According to Spillane, a kernel routine is distinguished by its ability to redesign the school organization via leadership teams in the school. "Any kernel routine must be firmly anchored to the school's core work of classroom teaching and student learning and simultaneously linked to the school's prescribed curriculum," he says.

THE THIRTY MILLION WORDS PROJECT

DANA SUSKIND

At age three, disadvantaged children have heard approximately 30 million words less than their more affluent counterparts, resulting in a critical disparity in vocabulary, literacy, school achievement, IQ, and long-term achievement.

Thirty Million Words (TMW), lead by Dana Suskind, MD and supported by the Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Chicago Institute for Translational Medicine, will integrate innovative technology into its public health approach, focusing on improving the quantity and quality of parent-to-child speech for disadvantaged children. Utilizing an automated Language Environment Analysis system, or LENA, TMW will provide language environment analysis that can help to better understand the ways word and language deficiencies operate and the most effective interventions to address them.