Illustrative Projects

Understanding the Link between School Disciplinary Violations, Dropout and Justice Involvement (2009 – 2011)

Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center

Methodology: Multivariate Analysis, Longitudinal Analysis, and Database Management

Working with Council of State Governments Justice Center, PPRI conducted research to identify the factors that predict school discipline involvement, dropout, and juvenile justice involvement. The project joined two of the states’ most powerful databases – the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), containing individual student data for nearly 4.6 million students at over 8,000 campuses, and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission’s CASEWORKER information system tracking approximately 103,000 juvenile offenders each year.


Evaluation of Texas High Schools Project (THSP)

Stanford Research Institute (SRI) International

Texas Education Agency (TEA)

Methodology: Program Evaluation, Qualitative Analysis, Quantitative Analysis and Survey Research

The Texas High School Project (THSP) contained 6 sub-studies and 14 tasks. In combination with other partners, PPRI took the lead on evaluation issues related to high school reform, case studies, satellite site visits, follow-up phone interviews and surveys. PPRI was also involved in formative feedback, evaluation design, integrated analysis and reporting, and evaluating the management effectiveness of the broader THSP initiative.

In addition, PPRI conducted periodic surveys of school personnel and students and conducted site visits with specific schools and school personnel. Analysis was also conducted on how schools implemented proposed changes, factors that supported or prevented success, and whether any changes in student outcomes occurred as a result.

Disproportionate Minority Representation in Special Education Programs

Texas Education Agency (TEA)

Education Service Center – Region 12

Methodology: Policy Analysis and Survey Research

Responding to national and statewide concerns regarding minority children’s disproportionate representation in special education, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) selected two education service centers (ESC 1 and 12) to lead a project aimed at better understanding this issue in Texas. After bringing together both TEA evaluation and diversity expertise, the research and data capabilities of the Public Policy Research Institute (PPRI) at Texas A&M University were secured for implementing a comprehensive study of disproportionate representation of minority children in special education across Texas.

Given the complexity of the issue, it was clear that only a multi-faceted study could appropriately address the many questions that have arisen since the issue was first identified in educational research. This study incorporated five components, the first of which consisted of a literature review providing the historical and research perspective needed for guiding the initiative. Next, nationally available data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) dataset were analyzed for comparing Texas with other states and the country as a whole. This was central for understanding contextual issues and the extent of the problem in Texas.

Turning to state-level data sources, the TEA Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) database was instrumental in providing solid information about the actual extent of disproportionate representation. However, it was also vital to augment archival data with insights from experts in the field for understanding how disproportionate representation might operate and identifying issues specific to Texas. The goal was to move beyond raw numbers and percentages to a contextual perspective from which to interpret their meaning. This was accomplished through focus groups of stakeholders and a survey of experts from ESCs across the state.

Round Rock Independent School District Evaluation of Safe Schools Healthy Students

Department of Education (DOE)

Department of Justice (DOJ)

Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS)

Methodology: Program Evaluation, Qualitative Analysis, Quantitative Analysis, and Survey Research

In an unusual move, the United States Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice collaborated in funding this expansive project aimed at making schools safer. The project examined substance abuse, violence, mental health, consistency of rules, and early learning in an attempt at understanding the multifaceted problems facing today’s schools. The role of PPRI in this undertaking was evaluating the project in its components and in whole. One significant task was placing the project in a logic model and creating an evaluation plan specifically tied to the elements of the logic model. Additionally, the logic model was used for determining whether those involved in the project were accomplishing their goals and if the program was having its intended impact of enhanced school safety utilizing a quasi-experimental approach.