The University of Houston has received final approval from the State of Texas to launch an Education Research Center. The goal of the center is to improve student outcomes and strengthen the workforce based on new research designed to answer countless questions that historically perplex education policymakers, including:
- The best ways for school principals to improve teacher retention
- Whether dual credit classes in high school increase college graduation rates
- How teacher quality and funding influence student achievement
How it Works
- Researchers plan to analyze these key issues and more, tapping into 20 years of data that will allow for large-scale studies to accelerate students’ success across the nation.
- The data made available to the UH center will let researchers link pre-K-12, higher education and workforce data, understanding students as they move from pre-kindergarten through college and into the Texas workforce.
- Thanks to the state’s unique data set, the research has the potential to strengthen teacher training, student learning across the educational pipeline and, ultimately, career readiness.
Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes approved the UH research center through a competitive process that culminated Thursday with a report to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The UH center is the only one of its kind in the Gulf Coast region.
“This is a momentous honor for the University of Houston and will greatly affect the future of postsecondary education in the Gulf Coast region,” said Paula Myrick Short, UH System senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and UH senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.
Robert McPherson, dean of the College of Education, which will house the center, said it promises to be a “game changer,” expanding high-quality research that will inform public policy for the benefit of all students and the region’s economy.
“The College of Education is committed to eradicating inequities in education that disproportionately affect low-income students,” McPherson said. “This new research center will allow us to answer pressing questions to improve academic outcomes for all children while shaping education policy at the state and federal level.”
Achieving the State’s Goal
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has determined that by 2030 the state will need about 60 percent of its 25- to 34-year-old workforce to hold a postsecondary credential to maintain a strong economy. The Gulf Coast region plays a critical role as it represents almost a quarter of the state’s population and more than 20 percent of the student population.
“All of us involved with developing a skilled workforce in Houston are pleased that UH will be hosting an Education Research Center here,” said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. “The proximity of the ERC, combined with the many strengths of the UH College of Education, will facilitate efforts to study the effects of various improvements we are seeking in public education, higher education and workforce systems in the greater Houston region.”
To strengthen its impact, the UH Education Research Center plans to partner with other educational institutions and agencies. Strict regulations governing the data use will ensure student confidentiality is maintained.
“We are positioned differently from anybody else to help practitioners,” said Associate Professor Catherine Horn, co-director of the Education Research Center with Professor Anthony Rolle, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. “I'm so happy for this University to again be recognized for its contribution to finding solutions on behalf of our state. It’s an indication that what we’re doing matters in a good way.”