Institute of Urban Policy

Education Research

Issue Brief: The Value of a Small School
Annika Olson, MA, MPP
There are differing definitions of what qualifies as a “small” school across AISD and the communities in Austin. The East Austin community has explained that small, neighborhood schools are those which are walkable from their homes, have a low student-to-teacher ratio, and serve as a center of stability for the community. Research has highlighted that small schools like these are particularly beneficial for minority students, those with disabilities, and families that are socioeconomically disadvantaged. With large concentrations of these populations on the east side of Austin, smaller schools are especially beneficial.

Numbers Brief: Rising Property Values of AISD Schools Slated for Closure
Ricardo Lowe, MS
Following community conversations hosted by the Austin Independent School District (AISD), parents and community members have expressed concern that their neighborhood schools would be sold to developers, furthering displacement in vulnerable areas. The lack of clarity about AISD's intended use of these facilities, coupled with the district's budget deficit, increases this anxiety. In an effort to provide transparency between AISD and the community, IUPRA has gathered appraisal values for each school slated for closure or consolidation. In the event that further community conversations are held to address how facilities will be repurposed, it is imperative that community members and the district are aware of the value of these facilities.

Policy Brief: Lessons Learned from Dallas - Useful Strategies for Improving Schools in Austin
Annika Olson, MA, MPP
The Austin Independent School District (AISD) is working toward closing and consolidating schools as a strategy to not only save money, but also to improve schools. In this policy brief, we look toward another school improvement model that worked in Texas without closing or consolidating schools. The Dallas Independent School District (DISD) designed and implemented the Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE) program to bring struggling schools up to standard. We’ve identified three strategies from that program that could be replicated by AISD. We recommend AISD look to the ACE model to inform the School Changes strategy.

Issue Brief: Using Research to Shape School Consolidations
Annika Olson, MA, MPP
One of the policy recommendations in IUPRA's brief to the Austin Independent School District (AISD) was to consult more research on school closures and consolidations (see below). In this issue brief, we give an overview of research that demonstrates both the pros and cons of school closures and consolidations on a national scale. We also look at how specific applications in Austin would impact Black students. While there can be benefits to school consolidation as a money-saving strategy, the research shows its effects are mostly negative and points to disproportionate impact on Black communities.

Policy Brief: Using Data to Inform the AISD School Changes Strategy
Annika Olson, MA, MPP; Ricardo Lowe, MS
In light of AISD’s proposed School Changes strategy, IUPRA conducted policy research on both the effectiveness and impact of school closures as well as the disproportionate displacement of Black students in Austin that would occur as a result of such closures. This policy brief includes an overview of the key data and our recommendations to AISD in advance of its vote on the proposed strategy.

The State of Black Lives in Texas: Education Report
kihana miraya ross, PhD; Kevin Cokley, PhD; Ryan Carlino; Susan Phan; Miranda Badgett; Jacob Hood
This report is the first in a series that looks at various policy issues in Texas through a racial equity lens, with the goal of influencing policymakers to improve the lives of Black people in Texas. The education report takes a look at four key education issues and how current policy and realities in Texas affect Black students: discipline and punishment, charter schools, standardized testing, and the Top Ten Percent Law. The authors provide an analysis of the available data in these areas, followed by key policy recommendations and priorities.

Fall 2016 & Spring 2017 IUPRA Poll: Education Report
Richa Gupta, MPH; Kevin Cokley, PhD
This report contains the results of both the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 IUPRA Poll questions on education issues. The data is presented graphically and analyzed, and the fall and spring data are compared. There is also a discussion piece, focusing mostly on ESAs and the 10% rule for Texas colleges.

Eliminating Hate Incidence on the University of Texas at Austin Campus
Loyce Gayo; Jonathan Lin Davis; Amanda Woog, JD; Naomi Reed, PhD; Shetal Vohra-Gupta, PhD
This report puts forward the proposed hate crime policy, including specific recommendations on reporting, response, and student needs. This policy grew out of work done in two previous IUPRA reports, found below.

Designing an Effective Hate Crime/Bias Tolerance Policy: Identifying Critical Success Factors
Jonathan Lin Davis; Loyce Gayo; Shetal Vohra-Gupta, PhD
This methods report outlines critical success indicators used to evaluate existing hate crime/bias tolerance policies within several peer institutions in order to next draft a potential hate crime policy (see above). The indicators were incorporation, language, sanction, placement, dissemination and reporting, education, and update.

Critical Race Analysis of Student Policy on Race Relations
Loyce Gayo; Shetal Vohra-Gupta, PhD; Naomi Reed, PhD; Jonathan Lin Davis
After a hate crime to a Black student took place near the University of Texas at Austin campus, IUPRA conducted a policy analysis to offer insight on how racist actions are dealt with at the University. The research found that UT had limited relevant policies and was the only institution among its National Comparison Group with no official hate crime or bias tolerance policy. This report also analyzes the Student Policy on Race Relations policy that does exist.

IUPRA Poll: Texas Voters' Attitudes about Education
These are results of a statewide poll about Texans' attitudes toward education. The poll looked at registered voters' views on the quality of schools, Common Core, religious-based explanations discussed in public education, discussing race in public education, formation of charter schools, tax credits for scholarship donations to send children of low-income parents to private schools, and policies that prevent racially disproportionate school suspensions.
DOWNLOAD: Summary | Graphs | Memo

Discipline Disparities for Black Girls with Disabilities in TX Schools
Karen Moran Jackson, PhD; Leonie Jones
There is even less data about discipline rates for Black girls with disabilities than discipline rates for Black girls in general. The data in this report show that Black girls with disabilities are more likely to be served under IDEA than Section 504, and that students under IDEA are less likely to participate and more likely to be segregated. Additionally, discipline data under IDEA showed Black girls overrepresented in most discipline categories.

Black Girls Face Disproptionate Discipline in Texas Schools
Karen Moran Jackson PhD; Renée Hatcher, JD; Leonie Jones
Nationally, Black girls are suspended six times the rate of white girls. Disproportionate school discipline leads to less instructional time for Black girls, increasing the risk of dropping out of school. Texas studies of the five largest school districts showed similar disproportionalities. This brief shows this Texas data and gives some general recommendations.

Texas School Financing Continues a Regressive Trend
Karen Moran Jackson, PhD; Victor O. Obaseki, JD
This brief explains and analyzes CSHB1759, an attempt to improve equity and increase funding in schools, after the state school finance system was found unconstitutional. However, the bill eliminated the Cost of Education Index instead of updating it, and failed to increase special allotments for students with exceptional needs or otherwise increase educational fairness. This anlaysis shows that while all district types would have seen an increase in revenue, the pattern of high and low districts would remain the same, with districts in 

Post-Legislative Session Report: Primary and Secondary Education
Dongmei Li, PhD; Victor O. Obaseki, JD; Karen Moran Jackson, PhD
This report explores two bills: HB 4, which passed, and SB 4, which didn't, and how students of color will fare under HB 4 and may fare under lesislation similar to SB 4. HB 4 provides additional funding to prekindergardent programs that meet certain requirements, and SB 4 would have used tax incentives to coax private donors into funding scholarships for students trying to leave failing public schools.

Single-Sex Public Education and African American Males: A Response to Racial and Gender Inequity
Kevin Cokley, PhD; Steven Stone, MEd
Black male students are disproportionately suspended, expelled from school, tracked into less challenging courses, and more likely placed into classes for students with intellectual and learning disabilities than in classes for gifted and talented students. Single-sex schools have been proposed as one solution to improving these outcomes for Black male students. This paper examines research and arguments for and against this option, concluding that this does seem to be a viable option.

The Campus Climate for University of Texas at Austin Faculty
Germine Awad, PhD; Erin Reilly, MEd; Richard Reddick, EdD; Kevin Cokley, PhD
This project was commissioned by the Office of the President at The University of Texas at Austin to examine faculty and staff experiences and perception of campus climate. This report covers the faculty analysis only. Overall perceptions were found to be moderate to positive, though differences in perceptions were found when data disaggregated by race/ethnicity, gender, and appointment status; women and minorities reported less satisfaction on many indicators.

Mental Health Education in African American Divinity/Theology Schools
Albert Thompkins, PhD; King Davis, PhD
In times of mental health issues or crises, 75% African Americans rely on clergy rather than psychiatric help or medication; but this study finds that almost all African American divinity/theology schools, and most divinity/theology schools in general, are seriously lacking or fragmented in mental health education and consider it secondary. Read the report for policy recommendations to improve mental health education in African American divinity schools.

Post-Legislative Session Report: Primary and Secondary Education
Victor O. Obaseki, JD; Seth A. Kessler, MPA; Kathryn A. Freeman, JD
This report explores two bills: HB 5 which changed high school graduation requirements and reduced number of required state secondary school exams; and SB 2 which increased number of contracts for charter schools. These bills led to questions of how students will deal with new curriculum requirements and whether Texas charter schools are better than traditional schools.

Do Vouchers Create More Inequality? Lessons from Universal Implementation in Chile
Jaime Portales, PhD; Julian Vasquez Heilig PhD
Vouchers are gaining promience in Texas and U.S. education policy discourse. In other countries, it has exacerbated segregation, showed varied achievement results (U.S. programs failed to increase achievement), and decreased public school enrollment paired with increased negative image.

Is Texas Leading Its Peers and the Nation? A Decadal Analysis of Educational Data
Julian Vasquez Heilig, PhD; Su Jin Jez, PhD; Richard J. Reddick, EdD
The Texas education system is often touted as a miracle in regard to test-based accountability based on national measures, but evidence actually shows trends of decline or stasis relative to all states. The student achievement gap is closing, but overall performance lags.