IDRA has gathered and analyzed data that promote a broader understanding of educational and social policy issues among public and professional decision makers.
Using collaborative and innovative methods, we investigate important questions and provide insight into compelling educational issues. As a national resource, we set standards in the design, analysis, and synthesis of timely and useful research involving diverse populations.
To find out more about research results that are available online, see the list below.
Attrition and Dropout Rates in Texas
IDRA releases its annual attrition study in the October issue of its newsletter. Attrition rates are an indicator of a school’s holding power, or ability to keep students enrolled in school and learning until they graduate. IDRA has used the same methodology since its inaugural statewide study in 1986. See the latest attrition study results and related resources.
Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs in Texas
Almost 10 years ago, IDRA gave voice to the thousands of Texas public school students who were being criminalized, ostracized and stigmatized for “offenses” that were formerly managed by a simple timeout or even a visit to the principal’s office with its seminal assessment of Texas DAEPs. IDRA’s latest policy update released March 2009, shows that in the last decade, more than three quarters of a million students have been sent to DAEPs. Four out of five students of them are not there because of serious offenses. Put simply, DAEPs are a mess. They don’t work for kids, they don’t work for schools, and they don’t work for Texas. Read Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs in Texas – A 2009 Update (pdf).
Education of English Language Learners in U.S. and Texas Schools
With the current dismal state of English language learner education, major changes in state policy and local school and district practices are essential. IDRA’s latest policy update released April 2009, shows that huge achievement gaps among limited-English-proficient students and non-LEP students at the middle and high school level in particular show need for changes in policy, teacher training and evaluation. Also, IDRA presents a research-based framework that provides guidance for design, implementation and evaluation of an effective English language learner program. See IDRA’s policy and research work for English language learner education. Read Education of English Language Learners in U.S. and Texas Schools – Where We Are, What We Have Learned and Where We Need to Go from Here – A 2009 Update (pdf).
IDRA rigorously and methodically studied exemplary bilingual education programs in schools across the nation as determined by limited English proficient students’ academic achievement. As a result, we identified the 25 common characteristics that contribute to high academic performance of students served by bilingual education programs. Learn more about Good School and Classrooms for Children Learning English.
Quality Early Education
In Spanish, amanecer means “the beginning of a new day.” In 1975, IDRA began a new day in public education by developing the AMANECER curriculum – one of the first bilingual early childhood curricula in the country. AMANECER was based on the then groundbreaking premise that children and families whose first language is not English must have access to quality education at the earliest levels of school. It also was based on research by IDRA and others that bilingual education is the best way to teach English while also teaching other subjects, making bilingual education in early childhood classrooms a key focus of IDRA’s work throughout the years.
IDRA’s U.S. Department of Education-funded Reading Early for Academic Development research a decade ago showed dramatic school readiness results among participating children and informed the development of a “Classroom of Excellence” model for early childhood classrooms of excellence. IDRA’s early childhood education research provides further grounding for the Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Early Childhood Educators Institute, the nation’s only gathering place for teachers and parents concerned with early childhood education of English learners. (Next institute April 24, 2014.)
IDRA research also informed Semillitas de Aprendizaje™ – a unique bilingual (Spanish/English) supplemental curriculum that is helping teachers foster literacy, numeracy and social-emotional development, while valuing and capitalizing on children’s home language and culture (see stories: Building Interest in STEM through Language Development and Storytelling and The Philosophy Behind Semillitas de Aprendizaje™).
See descriptions of IDRA’s early childhood education research and development work.
Throughout IDRA’s history, our research has assessed fair funding policy efforts undertaken in Texas and other states to examine progress made toward achieving equity in school funding for all students. These efforts have served to inform policymakers, educators and communities about areas where additional reforms are needed and have included specific recommendations to help achieve more equitable funding systems. IDRA fair funding research has impacted policy dating back to IDRA’s inception, leading toward reductions in gaps in funding between property poor and property wealthy school systems. IDRA founder, Dr. José A. Cárdenas, summarized IDRA’s first two decades of this work in Texas School Finance Reform: An IDRA Perspective. IDRA later published The Status of School Finance Equity in Texas – A 2009 Update summarizing changes that had occurred by that point and identifying changes that were still needed.
IDRA’s research on funding for English language learners also has informed state and national policy including our seminal bilingual education cost studies for Texas, Colorado and Utah in the 1970s, finding that the lack of equitable and sufficient funding for special programs has been a continuing problem for decades.
In addition to informing the policymaking process, IDRA’s research has been used in court cases related to equity in funding dating back to the 1970s up to the current school funding equity case in Texas. Our research has informed several court rulings requiring that the state of Texas change its public school funding system in order to make it more equitable for all students and communities. IDRA’s initial report from the most recent Texas school funding case is online: “The Extent of Equity in the Texas School Finance System and Its Impact on Selected Student Related Issues.”
Ten Percent Plan in Texas
IDRA presented testimony on March 11, 2009, that presents IDRA’s research on the probable effects of proposed changes that would limit the number of students offered automatic admission under the Top Ten Percent Plan being considered by the Texas Legislature. In 2007, to help inform the debate on the effects of the Texas Ten Percent Plan, IDRA compiled and analyzed available data on the students entering the University of Texas at Austin and all the Texas high schools that contributed graduating seniors to those incoming freshmen classes between the years of 1995 and 2006. See IDRA research reports on the Ten Percent Plan in Texas.
IDRA’s Alianza project helped several universities improve their teacher preparation programs to increase the number of teachers prepared to teach English in bilingual and multicultural environments. The project also conducted research to support universities in their reform efforts. See our teacher preparation research publications online.
Education Policy Briefs
IDRA developed a series of four policy briefs in 1999 to inform community and policy decisions during the 1999 Texas legislative session. The information is still relevant today. Topics include disciplinary alternative educational programs in Texas, dropout and attrition rates, in-grade retention and use of public money for private schooling. See the policy briefs online.