The new research unit is a collaboration among the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, various government agencies and school districts. Through this partnership, they aim to promote evidence-based policy development and analyze existing policies.
Led by economist and Distinguished University Professor Tim Sass, Georgia Policy Labs houses two major initiatives. MAPLE (Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education) is a partnership with five metro Atlanta school districts (Atlanta Public Schools, Clayton County Public Schools, DeKalb County School District, Fulton County Schools and Gwinnett County Public Schools). The second initiative, CTEx (Career and Technical Education Policy Exchange), is directed by Professor Dan Kreisman. CTEx partners with state education departments in Massachusetts, Michigan and Tennessee, and focuses on career and technical education.
In its first year, MAPLE hired postdoctoral research associates Todd Jones and Weixiang Pan, a business manager and a data scientist, and created an information technology infrastructure to house data from its partners. Collaborating with its district partners, MAPLE also established a research agenda and developed a portfolio of research projects led by Georgia State faculty, including Sass, economist Jonathan Smith and others. Initial research initiatives include:
- Effects of a program to promote college-going for disadvantaged youth
- Student retention-in-grade policies and later student outcomes
- Teacher hiring policies and their impact on teacher quality and teacher retention
- Impact of district pre-kindergarten programs on kindergarten readiness and future student achievement
- The effects of providing Internet access and computer equipment to students
- The use of information “nudges” to improve student attendance
In the next year, Georgia Policy Labs plans to hire two project managers and a research director.
“We are working in partnership with government colleagues to create an environment where policymakers have the information they need to improve existing policies, try new ideas for addressing pressing issues and decide what new initiatives are promising enough to scale up,” Sass said. “The ultimate goal is to help government entities make a positive difference in people’s lives.”