Research Overview

The project will bring together legal, economic, and policy experts to identify and support research that generates new evidence to improve regulations and policies that promote equity and accountability. A primary goal of the project will be to support research into the effectiveness of different policies and regulations to address disparities in higher education that have disproportionate, negative, and long-lasting effects on Black and Latinx communities. This research is all the more urgent due to COVID-19, which is increasing disparities in access to education as well as to the delivery of basic needs such as food and public health services.

Research funded by the project will assess variation in student outcomes and likely consequences under various accountability regimes both within and across categories of institutions. Of particular concern are institutions and programs serving a high proportion of Black and Latinx students, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), other minority-serving institutions (MSI), community colleges, for-profit institutions, institutions serving veterans, predominantly online institutions, and less-than-two-year vocational institutions. Key questions will include: which institutions and programs are likely to do well or poorly under various accountability metrics? How correlated are these metrics with the proportion of students of color? How might metrics be redesigned or adjusted to ensure equity?

Summary of Intended Outcomes of the Project

  • Robust academic research that can provide a basis for the Department to issue rules protecting students and taxpayers, built on rigorous research and analysis that is less likely to be overturned.
  • Research that can be published and cited by commenters and the Department of Education and other government agencies during the regulatory process.
  • Identifying underutilized sources of authority that can be used more strategically to reduce equity gaps and promise attainment.
  • Equity analyses that can show how Title IV funds flow differently to communities of color and assess the differential impacts of accountability policies for students and communities of colors.
  • Exploring new sources of data that can be used to build an evidence-base around accountability and equity.
  • Policy briefs designed to communicate and disseminate research to attorneys and policymakers.
  • Encourage junior faculty and scholars of color to participate in accountability and equity research.
  • Develop the next generation of scholars by training and co-authoring with graduate student research assistants.
  • Insights into how to institutionalize the collaboration between higher education economists and regulatory attorneys to continue the partnership over the long-term.