The grant will enable the university's Houston Education Research Consortium, which works to improve the connection between education research and decision-making, to reach more school districts in the region, with the goal of narrowing and, ultimately, eliminating socioeconomic gaps in educational achievement and attainment. Established in 2011 and housed in the university's Kinder Research for Urban Research, HERC has conducted research on topics such as the benefits of pre-kindergarten, the effect of teacher evaluations on teacher effectiveness, the impact of school closures, and the predictors of dropping out.
In partnership with school district leaders, HERC will work to develop a research agenda that focuses on issues of regional importance, including de facto school segregation, effective curricula and programs, and bilingual education. The program also will consult with state agencies, including the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the Texas Workforce Commission, to facilitate data and information sharing.
"We're extremely grateful for this opportunity to develop a regional research agenda together with school district leaders," said HERC director Ruth López Turley, who is also an associate director for research at the Kinder Institute and a professor of sociology in Rice's School of Social Sciences. "There are many issues that can't be addressed through a single school district, but using research to collaborate across districts within the same region is promising and having the resources to do this work is rare. This is truly a meaningful gift to children in the Houston metropolitan area."