Small Grants in the Educational Opportunity Monitoring Project (Round 1)

October 10, 2016

In March 2016, the Russell Sage Foundation and William T. Grant Foundation established the Educational Opportunity Monitoring Project, a collaboration designed to support innovative research that uses newly released data on academic achievement from the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) in order to address educational opportunity and success in the United States. SEDA is a large-scale administrative database assembled by former RSF Visiting Scholar Sean Reardon and colleagues that contains information on the results of over 200 million standardized achievement tests taken by roughly 40 million public school students from 2009 to 2013.

RSF and the W.T. Grant Foundation launched the first of two small grants competitions in May 2016. The competition aims to encourage junior faculty and graduate students to use the SEDA and other datasets to investigate issues and policies relevant to educational inequalities. The first round of the competition results in the foundations awarding small grants to the following seven projects:

Something in the Water? Environmental Toxicity and Racial Achievement Gaps 

Lucy Sorensen (SUNY Albany) – $19,816

Sorenson will investigate the links between exposure to environmental toxins and academic achievement gaps. She will match detailed achievement data from the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) to environmental hazard data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to explore how variations in lead exposure across different neighborhoods affect educational outcomes by race.

The Great Recession, Fiscal Federalism and Student Achievement

Matthew P. Steinberg and Kenneth Shores (University of Pennsylvania) – $20,000

Steinberg and Shores will use SEDA to examine how the Great Recession and the federal government’s subsequent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) affected academic outcomes across all school districts. They will study whether the recession exacerbated racial achievement gaps, whether the recession disproportionately affected school districts serving higher concentrations of low-income and minority students, and whether the federal fiscal stimulus was able to offset any of the recession’s effects on student achievement.

The Impact of Full-day Kindergarten on Academic Achievement

Chloe Gibbs (University of Notre Dame) – $19,961

Gibbs will explore how access to full-day kindergarten affects students’ academic achievement. She will couple data from SEDA with data on full-day kindergarten expansions to explore whether providing full-day kindergarten lowers racial and ethnic achievement gaps.

Immigration Enforcement Policy and Hispanic-White Achievement Gaps

Laura Bellows (Duke University) – $6,200

Bellows will study the effects of immigration enforcement policy on the Hispanic-white achievement gap using data from SEDA and the Secure Communities program, a partnership between the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement agencies. She will investigate whether increases in immigration enforcement actions increase Hispanic-white achievement gaps, focusing on differences by student grade and level of school segregation.

Crime and Inequality in Academic Achievement across School Districts in the United States

Gerard Torrats-Espinosa (New York University) – $7,000

Torrats-Espinosa will explore how changes in crime rates over time in both school districts and cities affect racial and ethnic achievement gaps in those places. He will use achievement data from SEDA along with data on police department funding and information on opiate overdoses from the National Center for Health Statistics to investigate the links between spikes in crime rates due to the heroin and opiate epidemic and students’ academic performance.

Universal Access to Free School Meals and Student Performance: Evidence from the Introduction of the Community Eligibility Provision

Krista Ruffini (University of California, Berkeley) – $5,651

Ruffini will examine the causal relationship between access to free meals under the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program and student academic achievement by merging CEP participation information collected from state educational agencies with SEDA. She will focus in particular on analyzing how school-based nutritional access affects student performance in the short-term.

Understanding the Linkages Between Racial Achievement Gap and Racial Disciplinary Gap in the U.S.

Maithreyi Gopalan (Indiana University) – $6,086

Gopalan will investigate the links between the black-white “disciplinary gap”—or differences in rates of suspension and expulsion between black and white students—and racial academic achievement gaps. Using data from SEDA, she will look at how racial disciplinary gaps vary across districts and trace how the linkage between racial achievement gaps and racial disciplinary gaps varies across school districts.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


Join our mailing list for email updates.