Special Opportunity: the Stanford Data Archive and a Grants Program to Support Early-Career Researchers Studying Educational Inequality

Earlier this year, we awarded Former William T. Grant Scholar Sean Reardon a special initiative grant to support the construction of a powerful new data archive that would allow researchers to observe patterns of educational inequality and develop high-quality studies to identify strategies that respond to gaps in achievement and student outcomes.

The recently announced Stanford Data Archive, developed by Reardon and colleagues at the Stanford University Center for Education Policy Analysis, connects all standardized test results reported by states since 2008, gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics, with various data sets on school and neighborhood demographics, civil rights data on suspension, disability, and retention, as well as data on teacher experience, school finance and policy, charter school enrollments, English-language learners, and more.

In order to tap into the potential of the data archive, we are collaborating with our friends at the Russell Sage Foundation to sponsor a research grants competition that will support a racially and ethnically diverse cadre of early-career scholars. We look forward not only to deepening our understanding of educational achievement gaps and identify promising responses, but also multiplying the range of perspectives of those who are doing this important work.

Applicants may learn more about the data archive and call for proposals, including eligibility and application information, at russellsage.org. The deadline for all applications is August 11, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. EST.

This grants program marks our commitment to developing a pipeline of racially and ethnically diverse scholars and expanding the range of perspectives in the field, which we believe is especially vital as we seek to identify responses to inequality

This special opportunity integrates a number of priorities and interests of our Foundation. First, it represents a continuation of our history of investing in tools that facilitate high-quality research and push the field forward. Second, it reflects our interest in a broad range of approaches to research—our orientation toward questions and not preconceptions—which encourages researchers to across fields to find new insights and question assumptions. And third and most importantly, it marks our commitment to developing a pipeline of racially and ethnically diverse scholars and expanding the range of perspectives in the field, which we believe is especially vital as we seek to identify responses to inequality.

In her 2015 survey of the landscape of funding for research on inequality in the United States, Sarah Bruch stated: “Just as we know that providing equal opportunity for young children is a critical component of maximizing human capital potential, providing funding opportunities for less established and/or under-represented researchers would maximize the knowledge base brought to bear on addressing inequality among young people.” Similarly, Carola Suárez-Orozco recently wrote that bicultural or bilingual researchers can “provide a fresh interpretive perspective and may lend specific disciplinary expertise” to questions of student achievement, especially in diverse communities.

With these insights, we are thus called to action. Through this opportunity, we hope that researchers who are under-represented in the social sciences, particularly along ethnic and racial lines, will take up the call to access the archive, investigate important questions that are inclined toward informing real-life decisions about how we address challenges in schools and communities, and provide their unique perspective and expertise in developing effective responses.


Sean Reardon discusses the the landscape of U.S. educational inequality: