College of Education > News and Publications > 2016: 07-09 news > New center supports researchers investigating educational inequities

New center supports researchers investigating educational inequities

The Center for Educational Disparities Research is being jointly established by Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute and the College of Education to provide a support system for education-focused research.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Large academic achievement and other opportunity gaps are widespread in the U.S., with minority and low-income children consistently at greater risk than their peers.

Paul Morgan
Paul Morgan

To address these educational inequities, the Center for Educational Disparities Research (CEDR) is being jointly established by Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute and the College of Education.

According to Paul Morgan, center director and professor of education, the goal of the CEDR is to provide a support system for education-focused research. It is an extension of the Educational Risk Initiative (ERI), which Morgan helped to establish at Penn State four years ago.

The CEDR will build the educational field’s knowledge base by identifying risk factors for educational disparities and by evaluating programs or policies that can help decrease these risks. Educational disparities can result from children having untreated disabilities, being raised in less advantaged homes and communities, and receiving lower quality schooling. These disparities can extend over the life course, affecting adult employment outcomes, health and well-being. “Educational inequities can result in societal inequities. Our collective aim is to even the playing field and provide equal opportunities for children,” said Morgan.

The new center will provide additional support for researchers addressing educational inequities by increasing their external funding opportunities. The center will support researchers of varied backgrounds, including sociology, developmental psychology, demography, educational and school psychology, and educational policy.

“Researchers will benefit from the expertise of a community of colleagues whose skills can assist them in advancing their planned investigations as well as submitting proposals to external funding organizations,” Morgan explained. “Faculty will also help establish multi-disciplinary teams of researchers and support their activities and project development.”

The CEDR will also provide a number of services including assistance with proposal writing as well as advice and feedback from a variety of perspectives, course releases for selected faculty, mentoring, panel reviews, and hosting events and speakers.

Multiple successes can already be attributed to the center’s predecessor, the ERI. According to Morgan, the ERI was critical in helping a number of faculty obtain external funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.

Penn State faculty affiliated with the CEDR include Chrissy Hall, Deborah Schussler, Jenny Frank, Peter Nelson, Julia Bryant, Ashley Patterson, Amy Crosson, Karly Ford, Katerina Bodovski, and Soo-yong Byun (Education); David Ramey and Jeremy Staff (Criminology); Kevin Thomas and Michelle Frisco (Sociology); and Scot Gest (Human Development).

The center is being jointly funded by Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute in the Office of the Vice President for Research and the College of Education.

By Kristi Auman-Bauer, Social Science Research Instituate (July 2016)