Research Briefs by UC Educational Evaluation Center Address Hot-Button Topics in Education

The UC system-wide Center has been administered by UCLA Education since last year, directed by SRM Professor Christina Christie.

A series of research briefs has recently been launched by the University of California’s Educational Evaluation Center (UCEC), each focusing on high interest topics in education. The briefs, which are researched and prepared with input from UCEC site directors from across the UC system, include examinations of the value of early childhood education, the need for greater alignment between high school and college systems, and the cognitive gaps between Latino and white children.

The UCEC, which until 18 months ago was headquartered at UC Santa Barbara, was reestablished at UCLA under the leadership of Professor Christina Christie of the Social Research Methodology (SRM) division. She says that the level of innovation and cutting-edge research done at UCLA Ed & IS makes it the perfect location for such a critical institute.

“UCLA Education has a longstanding commitment to conducting policy-relevant research and evaluation on educational issues of importance to key local, state and national decision makers,” says Professor Christie. “UCEC is an independent voice in a highly politicized discussion, providing unbiased insights about educational programs and policies in California and beyond. In this way, UCLA’s Department of Education is an ideal home for UCEC.”

The UCEC utilizes the system-wide expertise of nationally recognized scholars to address educational questions and issues through rigorous evaluation of potential solutions. Through these evaluations, the UCEC contributes to the knowledge base of effective policies and practices for pre-kindergarten through graduate studies, with the goal of improving data use and decision-making. The combined expertise of UCEC Site Directors offers content and methodological expertise to successfully conduct national, state, and local educational evaluations. In addition, the strategic locations of each of the partner campuses – which include UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Merced, and UC Santa Barbara – give the UCEC a presence in all the major regions of California, and maximize the Center’s capacity to conduct state and local evaluations that also have national significance.

Recent UCLA alumna Anne Vo (’13, Ph.D., SRM) is the associate director of the UCEC, and prepared the research briefs with UCEC research analyst Jonathan Gillespie (’14, Ph.D., Human Development & Psychology). Vo says that the series showcases the range of evaluation, education, and policy expertise that exists throughout the UC system, and helps to foster new discussions and innovations in the conduct of educational evaluation and research as well as policy making.

“My hope is that the research briefs we’ve developed will bring awareness to the cutting-edge work that UCEC faculty have done,” says Vo. “Making our faculty’s research more accessible to broad audiences without sacrificing nuance or complexity is a tall order. Still, building bridges between academic and lay communities so that informed use of research occurs is a critical charge. Its import will only continue to grow.”

Current research briefs by the UCEC include “Preschool Programs Help to Close School Readiness Gaps for Disadvantaged Children” by Greg Duncan, UC Irvine; “Greater Alignment Between High School and State Colleges Would Help Students Better Navigate Path to College Degree” by Michal Kurlaender, UC Davis; and “Latino Children Lag Behind Whites in Cognitive, but Not Social-Emotional Skills” by Bruce Fuller, UC Berkeley.

To view the UCEC’s Site Director Research Briefs, click here.


Above: Professor Christina Christie (at center), is the system-wide director of the University of California’s Educational Evaluation Center. Pictured with Anne Vo, UCEC associate director, and Professor Marvin Alkin, a research professor in the Social Research Methodology Division (SRM).