Neag School Faculty Awarded More Than $2M in IES Grants

Shaun Dougherty; Morgaen Donaldson; Institute of Education Sciences; IES; Grant Research; CTE; Education Policy; Principal Evaluation; School Leadership
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Two Neag School faculty members in the Department of Educational Leadership have recently received funding — totaling more than $2 million — from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), as part of the latest round of grants issued by the National Center for Education Research (NCER)’s Education Research Grants Program.

Evaluation of School Principals

Morgaen Donaldson, associate professor of educational leadership and director of the Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) at the Neag School, was awarded a three-year, $1.4 million grant for a project titled “District Policies Related to Principal Evaluation, Learning-Centered Leadership, and Student Achievement.” Donaldson’s co-principal investigators include assistant professor Shaun Dougherty of the Neag School, as well as Peter Youngs of the University of Virginia and Madeline Mavrogordato of Michigan State University.

“In the past five years, the great majority of states have approved legislation mandating that public school principals be evaluated annually using formulas that incorporate students’ academic growth,” state the researchers. “However, scant research examines how school district policies are related to leadership practices that are associated with improved student outcomes.”

The project aims to study 25 school districts in Connecticut, Michigan, and North Carolina, exploring associations between school district policies related to principal evaluation, principals’ enactment of learning-centered leadership practices, and student reading and mathematics achievement. This project was the only education leadership grant funded by NCER in the 2016 competition.

Examining Career Technical Education

Dougherty also was awarded a four-year, $695,000 grant for a project titled “The Causal Impact of Attending a Career-Technical High School on Student Achievement, High School Graduation, and College Enrollment.”

The research team — which includes Dougherty’s co-principal investigators and UConn colleagues Eric J. Brunner, associate professor of economics, and Stephen L. Ross, professor of economics — will focus on examining the impact of attending a CTE high school — in which all students who enroll participate in some form or career or technical educational training — on students’ achievement, high school graduation, and college enrollment. The project involves a partnership with the Connecticut State Department of Education and will use data from the Connecticut Technical High School System. Dougherty’s is one of eight recent NCER grants being led by early-career researchers.