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The Urban Institute conducts interdisciplinary studies that explore critical intersections between schools, families, communities, and the workplace. Drawing upon expertise and perspectives from across our research centers, the Education Policy Cluster coordinates studies focused on family and neighborhood factors that influence school performance and educational success, the potential of alternative school improvement and reform initiatives, the effectiveness of both K–12 and post-secondary systems in preparing young people for careers, strategies for helping at-risk youth stay and succeed in school, and school financing mechanisms.

In addition, the Urban Institute has conducted research on issues that have been central to education policy, including school and teacher assessment, and evaluation of specific reforms.

Education Policy Cluster

Contributing Scholars: Akiva Liberman, Kim Rueben, Austin Nichols, John Roman, Sue Popkin, Peter Tatian, Mike Pergamit, Bob Lerman, Marla McDaniel, Megan Cahill, Erwin de Leon, Gina Adams, Kathryn Pettit, Caroline Ratcliffe, Signe-Mary McKernan, Maria Enchautegui, Elsa Falkenburger, Lauren Eyster, Demetra Smith Nightengale, Sara Edelstein, Julia Isaacs, Megan Gallagher, Zach McDade, Heather Hahn, Gene Steuerle, Tracy Vericker, Pamela Loprest, Josh Mitchell, Mary Cunningham, Genevieve Kenney, Elaine Maag, Heather Sandstrom, Kelly Devers

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The $300 Billion Question: How Should We Budget for Federal Lending Programs? (Research Report)
Donald Marron

Student loans, mortgage guarantees, and other lending programs create special challenges for federal budgeting. Under official budget rules, these programs are projected to bring in $200 billion over the next decade. Under an alternative, favored by many analysts, they appear to lose $100 billion. That $300 billion disparity confuses policy deliberations. In this report, Donald Marron proposes a new budgeting approach, known as expected returns, that would eliminate this confusion. The report critically reviews today’s budgeting approaches, identifies their flaws, and demonstrates how expected returns would improve budgeting for federal lending.

Posted to Web: September 29, 2014Publication Date: September 29, 2014

A Better Way to Budget for Federal Lending Programs (Policy Briefs)
Donald Marron

Policy analysts have long debated how best to budget for student loans, mortgage guarantees, and other federal lending programs. Under official budget rules, these programs appear highly profitable; under an alternative, favored by many analysts, they appear to lose money. That discrepancy confuses policy deliberations. In this brief, Donald Marron proposes a new budgeting approach, known as expected returns, that would eliminate this confusion. Unlike existing approaches, expected returns accurately reports the fiscal effects of lending over time and provides a natural way to distinguish the fiscal gains from bearing financial risk from the subsidies given to borrowers.

Posted to Web: September 29, 2014Publication Date: September 29, 2014

Interim Outcome Study Report: National Implementation Evaluation of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) to Serve TANF Recipients and Other Low-Income Individuals (Research Report)
Pamela J. Loprest, Allison Stolte

The Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HPOG) Program funds training programs in high-demand healthcare professions, targeted to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients and other low-income individuals. This report is part of the HPOG National Implementation Evaluation (NIE) and provides interim results on the key outcomes of HPOG healthcare training completion and employment, as well as on participants’ pre-training activities and receipt of support services and employment assistance. This study includes 27 HPOG grantees and the report provides information about the first 12 months of HPOG participation for 8,634 individuals.

Posted to Web: September 24, 2014Publication Date: September 11, 2014

The First Year of Accelerating Opportunity: Implementation Findings from the States and Colleges (Research Report)
Theresa Anderson, Lauren Eyster, Robert I. Lerman, Additional Authors

Beginning in 2012, the Accelerating Opportunity (AO) initiative provided $1.6 million in grants to five states. The grants were to help community colleges create career pathway programs to enroll students with low basic skills into for-credit career and technical education courses to improve their educational and employment outcomes. A rigorous and comprehensive evaluation of AO includes a non-experimental impact study, an implementation study, and a cost-benefit analysis. This first report provides key findings on the pathways, students, resources, partnerships, culture shifts, and policy developments from the first year of implementation of the initiative.

Posted to Web: September 23, 2014Publication Date: September 23, 2014

Preparing Youth for College and Career (Research Report)
Brett Theodos, Mike Pergamit, Sara Edelstein, Taz George, Lesley Freiman

This report presents baseline and process study findings of an evaluation of the Urban Alliance high school internship program, which provides training, mentoring, and work experience to high school seniors from distressed communities in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Northern Virginia, and Chicago. The report, which focuses on the program's operations in DC and Baltimore in the 2011–12 and 2012–13 program years, explains the internship program model and its various components; describes the characteristics of youth participants; and presents findings from dozens of interviews and focus groups with program staff, youth, job mentors, and other stakeholders.

Posted to Web: September 16, 2014Publication Date: September 16, 2014

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