The Education Lab partners with school districts to design, test, and scale programs to ensure all students have the opportunity for future success. By generating cutting-edge evidence in a real-world setting, our insights are not theoretical; they are designed to be applied in the classroom and to reach students at scale – translating into maximum impact for students nationwide.
The Education Lab’s core values are essential to our work and drive our mission to support all students.
We work to create impact at scale for residents of America’s cities, especially for those facing the most severe implications of inequality and racism. We conduct research to meet the highest standards of quality and rigor, and we share our results broadly to generate measurable social good in communities.
We understand that it is a privilege that our partners entrust us with data. As a result, we hold ourselves accountable for clear and honest reporting of our research and analysis, even when difficult for key partners or ourselves to hear. We deeply appreciate that each data point represents an individual person, so we conduct our work with the care that they deserve.
We believe our work has the greatest impact when we incorporate diverse perspectives from outside and inside our organization. We value the voices of people with on-the-ground experience to offer critical insights to help inform solutions. We strive to create a sense of community and belonging for all staff.
We recognize that reciprocal relationships are key to a positive, productive, and team-focused work environment, in our own organization, with our partners, and with respect to the people we strive to support. So, we push ourselves to communicate more effectively, listen more intentionally, and have difficult conversations when needed.
What We Do
Topics and Methodologies
Mentoring and Counseling Interventions
Exposure to gun violence traumatizes children – and this trauma follows them into the classroom. We partner with community-based organizations to identify and evaluate trauma-informed interventions, including mentorship and counseling programs, that surface and strengthen skills in students that help them navigate difficult situations and succeed in school.
High-impact tutoring – defined as tutoring embedded during the school schedule that ensures students work consistently on individualized instructional content with their tutor throughout the school year – is among the most effective and cost-effective learning interventions studied to date. However, schools still face barriers to bringing high-impact tutoring to all students who could benefit. We work in partnership with school districts to understand whether and how we can scale high-impact tutoring programs to reach tens of thousands more students without compromising effectiveness.
Public education has never been more critical to ensuring economic mobility and future success.
Classroom behavior presents a complex challenge for educators and school administrators: disruptive behavior can prevent other kids from learning, but suspensions and expulsions can cause significant harm. Restorative practices are a promising, evidence-based alternative to punitive discipline.
For children and families living in communities most affected by gun violence in America, consistent exposure to violence and trauma can be detrimental to their mental health, emotional development, and academic engagement, resulting in students becoming disconnected from school. Recent research suggests providing wraparound behavioral and mental health supports can help decrease violence involvement and increase academic re-engagement.
We help our partners maximize their impact by providing technical assistance and evidence-based recommendations to inform program design, implementation, and scaling.
Policy and Program Evaluation
We work with government agencies and community-based partners to rigorously evaluate programs that aim to ensure all students have the opportunity for future success.
Randomized Controlled Trials
Randomized controlled trials are the gold standard in research, driving some of the most important advances in fields like technology and medicine—and we’re using them to do the same in education.
Who We Are
Our team is made up of experts with backgrounds in data and behavioral science, K-12 education, public school administration and management, government, and more, all with a shared passion for making our education system work for all students nationwide.
Thank you for your interest in career opportunities with the University of Chicago Education Lab! We regularly seek passionate, data-oriented, public service-minded individuals to join our team.
Thanks to our unique data-sharing agreements with public sector agencies and community partners, including Chicago Public Schools, the Education Lab can collect and analyze data to identify trends in education and, importantly, partner more effectively at designing and testing scalable solutions.
The Education Lab was founded in 2011 as a sister organization to the University of Chicago Crime Lab. For over a decade, we have partnered with school districts to design, test, and scale programs to ensure all students have the opportunity for future success. To date, our research has helped to generate more than $120 million in public investment for highly effective, evidence-based programs that support students furthest from opportunity.
Launched the Personalized Learning Initiative (PLI), a multi-year partnership aimed at helping districts scale personalized academic supports.
Began serving as a design and data analysis partner for Back to Our Future, which aims to support disengaged youth at the highest risk of trauma exposure.
Began working with CPS on a study of the restorative practices services the district had implemented since 2013. Findings were published in 2023.
Partnered with the CPS Department of Literacy to conduct a multi-year study evaluating its structured literacy program. Results will become available in 2025.
Partnered with Saga Education in CPS and NYC DOE to conduct a study of its blended learning model. Results will be published in 2023.
Launched the Chicago Student Success Initiative, a multi-year effort to identify systemic challenges for CPS Options Schools students and co-design solutions.
Conducted a study of Working on Womanhood (WOW), a school-based program that addresses the challenges facing girls in Chicago. Findings were published in 2023.
Conducted a study of an early literacy, high-impact tutoring intervention for first graders in two CPS charter schools. Results will be published in 2023.
Partnered with CPS to provide Options Schools students with access to a high-quality education and the supports they need to succeed.
Conducted a study of CPS’ Elevate program, a whole-school personalized learning reform model implemented in over 25 low-income neighborhood schools.
Provided guidance for the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative, which delivered mentoring services to young boys in areas experiencing high rates of gun violence.
Launched a design competition to identify a citywide, scalable, and homegrown solution to address gun violence among young Chicagoans.
Began a study of Choose to Change (C2C), which connects youth impacted by violence with an intensive advocate, wraparound services, and trauma-informed therapy.
Conducted a large-scale study of Saga Education in 17 CPS high schools on the South and West Sides. The results were published in the American Economic Review.
Evaluated Saga Education’s high-impact tutoring in 12 CPS high schools on the South and West sides.
Piloted and studied a high-impact tutoring (HIT) program inspired by Saga Education’s model in CPS’ Harper High School.
The Education Lab was founded as a sister lab to the University of Chicago Crime Lab.
Our team has co-designed, studied, and scaled programs and policies in cities nationwide to support student engagement, accelerate student learning, and ensure that the most promising policies and programs reach as many students as possible.
Personalized Learning Initiative
The Personalized Learning Initiative (PLI) is a moonshot to overcome pandemic learning loss and aims to bring high-dosage tutoring to students nationwide.
Working on Womanhood
In 2017, the University of Chicago Education Lab partnered with the Mayor’s Office, Chicago Public Schools and Youth Guidance to understand the effects of Youth Guidance’s Working on Womanhood program as part of the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative.
Choose to Change Research Brief
Read this brief to learn more about the Crime Lab and Education Lab’s evaluation of the Choose to Change program.
High School Transitions
At the request of Chicago Public Schools, the Education Lab conducted the High School Transitions project, which leveraged predictive analytics to identify students at risk of dropping out of high school as early as 7th grade and paired them with a summer enrichment program to help them get back on track.
Youth Advocate Programs
The Crime Lab and Education Lab, in partnership with Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP), conducted a randomized controlled trial of YAP’s wraparound advocacy services to evaluate the program’s impact on youth academic outcomes and violence engagement outcomes.
Saga Technology Research Brief
Learn more about the Saga Technology study and its early results.