Research

In partnership with state and local education agencies, education service providers, and non-profit organizations, WEPC researchers study the efficacy of educational policies and practices in order to improve opportunities and holistic outcomes for traditionally marginalized students. WEPC’s research areas are concerned with equalizing educational opportunity. studying the efficacy of specialized services, and progressing the education workforce.

 

Teacher helping a student

Research Areas

Equalizing Educational Opportunity

Disparities in student opportunities and outcomes from kindergarten through higher education arshaped by a complex set of school, community, governance, and non-education sector factors. WEPC researchers evaluate the impact of policies and practices both within and outside of schools on student educational and life outcomes. 

Specialized Services

In many cases, students with specialized needs, such as English language learners and students with disabilities, are not receiving the supports they need to succeed academically. WEPC researchers leverage large-scale administrative datasets and rigorous causal research designs to evaluate the efficacy of policies and commonly used practices targeted for these students who benefit from targeted supports. 

Effective Educators

Schools are only as effective as the teachers, administrators, and staff working within them. WEPC researchers seek to better understand the educator pipeline and to measure the impact of policies designed to improve the education workforce, from teacher preparation to professional development to increasing the diversity of the education profession. 

Featured Papers

Politics and Children’s  Books: Evidence from School Library Collections

Politics and Children’s Books: Evidence from School Library Collections

Authors: Kirsten Slungaard Mumma Project Summary This study begins by compiling a novel data set on the books in over 6,000 school libraries across the country. With this unique look inside school library shelves, the author then details some trends and themes related to the collections based on various characteristics, including for instance difference across high and low-income schools and the political leanings of surrounding areas. Key Findings Schools with more white students, schools...

read more
Enrollment Flexibility and Charter School Impacts: The Effect of Backfill on Students in Massachusetts Charter Middle Schools

Enrollment Flexibility and Charter School Impacts: The Effect of Backfill on Students in Massachusetts Charter Middle Schools

Authors: Marcus A. Winters, Boston University, Cheonghum Park, Korea Institute of Public Finance Project Summary This study leverages Massachusetts's adoption of a statewide requirement for charter schools to backfill vacancies within some grades to provide the first causal estimates for the effect of incorporating new students on the performance of incumbent charter school pupils. Using data from the universe of Massachusetts public school students enrolled in Grades 5 through 8 from...

read more
Ability Signals and Rigorous Coursework: Evidence from AP Calculus Participation

Ability Signals and Rigorous Coursework: Evidence from AP Calculus Participation

Authors: Christopher Avery, Harvard University, Joshua Goodman, Boston University Project Summary This study examines how one signal of ability—whether a student achieves “Advanced” status on Massachusetts’ 10th grade statewide standardized assessment—effects subsequent enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus courses. The findings suggest that ability signals can positively influence choices around student enrollment, either by changing students’ and families’ course choices or by...

read more