Our Work

IESP conducts research and policy analyses and evaluations of school reform and provides research-driven technical assistance for districts, state education departments, foundations, and intermediary organizations. Our work focuses on New York City, New York State, as well as the national landscape, and draws on the quantitative and qualitative training and experience of IESP's faculty, research staff and doctoral students. The Institute's research focuses on fundamental questions of systemic school improvement from a multi-disciplinary perspective, considering the interrelated systems of teaching, governance, administration, finance, and social policy. The Institute conducts research grounded in practice that informs the development of policy initiatives aimed at improving public education in urban areas.

Current research interests and projects at IESP fall into seven areas:

  • Childhood Obesity
    Obesity among children is one of the most pressing public health problems in the United States, and rates of childhood obesity differ dramatically by social class and ethnicity. We link FITNESSGRAM data collected in NYC to individual student and school characteristics to better understand the influence of various school and environmental characteristics on student health and wellbeing. Specifically, we estimate the impact of school food policies on student BMI, obesity and academic outcomes. We also examine the relationship between the food environment and child BMI by examining the availability of healthy and unhealthy food in children’s geographic communities.
  • Education Finance
    Education finance encompasses questions of equity, efficiency and effectiveness, accountability, and intergovernmental aid. What are the relationships among funding, policies, teachers, and student outcomes? How equitably are resources distributed to schools within school systems?
  • Evaluations
    How well do education reforms and other school-based programs work? IESP evaluates various important interventions in schools and districts, including a NYCDOE summer learning and internship program, Performance-Driven Budgeting (NYCDOE), the Annenberg-funded New York Networks for School Renewal and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship BizCamp program. 
  • Housing, Neighborhoods and Communities 
    Residential location is strongly linked to school quality, access to educated adults, exposure to violence, and other important factors that influence student academic outcomes. Our work on housing, neighborhoods and communities examines an array of contextual factors that impact students in school. For example, does experiencing housing foreclosure or being exposed to neighborhood crime have negative consequences for students? Are children who begin schooling in disadvantaged neighborhoods destined for poor academic outcomes?
  • Inequality
    Educational inequality, or the difference in the level of educational attainment and success according to race, ethnicity or family income, is one of the most important issues of the 21st century. Our work seeks to understand the ways in which inequality affects children's academic outcomes. 
  • Race and Immigration
    Where and into what family one is born affects a child's life chances immensely. Through a series of initiatives, we seek to assess these differences and study ways to improve chances for success for all children.
  • School Organiation
    School organization and size should be used as levers of change because of their ability to be consciously designed as a tractable cost-effective way to increase academic achievement in general and special education students.
  • Social Policy     
    Schools do not operate in a vacuum; academic outcomes reflect only in part the academic experiences of students. Social, political and governmental forces and institutions interact with the students our schools are educating. Much of our work focuses on these social factors, such as neighborhoods and housing.
  • Special Education
    Groundbreaking 1975 legislation promised long-denied equal opportunity for special education students in public schools, but ensuing efforts to deliver on that promise have been somewhat disappointing. More recently, however, states and school districts around the country have implemented major policy changes aimed at remedying these inequalities. Our research sheds light on the changes in special education schooling context and outcomes that accompanied NYC’s major special education policy reform to gain insight into the success of the reform.
  • STEM 
  • Youth Employment
    Youth employment has the potential to benefit students’ educational outcomes and employment trajectories, especially for low-income youth. Jobs and internships introduce youth to the workforce and foster noncognitive skills, important for college, the labor force, and future outcomes. Our research examines the impact of youth employment on school attendance, test scores, graduation, and other outcomes.