Center for Education Efficacy, Excellence, and Equity (E4)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored deep inequalities that exist in our country with regard to employment, access to health care, and access to high quality K-12 education for all children. The evident achievement and opportunity gaps that existed before the virus and now exacerbated by the virus are clarion calls to address educational inequality in the US. Schooling in America changed dramatically in mid-March 2020 when students sheltered-in-place nationwide as schools closed to prevent the spread of the virus. While opportunities for online learning had been growing in the previous decade, physical school closures opened up even more opportunities for learning through educational technology and online learning programs. Even so, many students will fall further behind unless there is a concerted effort to address equity and excellence for student learning. Inequities for students of color and students experiencing poverty especially have grown during this extraordinary time period. While these changes highlight problems that educational systems need to address, they also lead to opportunities for the future. This project will bring together university-based researchers, an online education solution provider, and one or more participating district partners to leverage current opportunities for educational improvement in a timely manner. Education researchers are often constrained in their work and commitments to improve learning opportunities and outcomes for those with the greatest needs, especially students of color and students who live in families experiencing poverty. Available data typically come from state- or district-required standardized tests given at single points in time close to the end of the school year. These performance data are not available for study and analysis for months after the tests are given into the next school year, further constraining the researcher from producing usable knowledge in a timely manner. At the same time, the teaching and learning that happens in classrooms is extraordinarily difficult to capture. Artifacts like books and assignments offer crude approximations, but education research has never had access to the kinds of real-time teaching and learning data at scale that, combined with real-time assessment data, would make it possible to ask critical questions about how students learn, and how to best support learning for students who are struggling. The widespread use of online learning programs in public education settings dramatically improves the quantity and quality of data available, offering the potential to address the questions that are at the heart of understanding student learning. Online education solution providers collect and can make available a greater amount of data more frequently and more quickly than standardized testing can be used. The recent growth in this area means that more students than ever, particularly historically marginalized and underserved students, are represented in digital education data. Yet researchers in university settings typically do not access data from private education solution providers even though the information these providers have, disaggregated by race, gender and income status, provide access to information about processes and outcomes that can yield important and timely findings for the field. There is an opportunity to address the inequities built into our education systems by leveraging the speed at which these digital online platforms generate quality representative data. Because researchers have not had much access to these data
Effective start/end date9/1/216/30/25


  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (INV-031960)


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