Education is a potent pathway to success, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. But large gaps remain between different groups of students – in school quality, academic progression, and ultimately educational attainment. How can policies be crafted to address these issues so that education offers opportunity for all?
At Opportunity Insights, we use big data to study the role of education in helping children achieve the American Dream. Our research covers pre-school through post-secondary education, focusing on the effects of policies on students’ long-term outcomes.
Our results suggest that there are a number of ways in which we can improve the quality of education – and access to it – from Kindergarten to career.
For instance, we must improve students’ access to higher education, especially at selective schools. There are too many schools that have low-income students who achieve impressive outcomes, but who admit relatively few low-income students.
Policy must be also focused on finding ways to improve the success of students once they arrive on campus. Schools that low-income students attend too often do not support them to get the most from the opportunities available to them, leaving them without the skills they need to reach the middle class.
Studying high-mobility institutions – those schools that admit large numbers of low-income students and whose low-income students achieve economic success – in detail can help us in both of these challenges. But we must also seek to provide answers to local problems, rather than imposing “one-size-fits-all” national solutions. To bring big data to bear on these issues, we formed the CLIMB Initiative
Collegiate Leaders in Increasing Mobility (CLIMB)
The CLIMB Initiative is a partnership between leading higher education economists and a diverse set of U.S. colleges and universities. Through CLIMB, we seek to understand not only which colleges act as engines of intergenerational mobility, but why, and how schools and policymakers can promote opportunity and economic growth by helping larger numbers of students from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed. By harnessing the power of big data, we can not only understand what works generally, but also how to adapt policy for different types of students across a wide range of schools.
Our partner institutions enroll more than 1 million students at four-year schools and another 2.4 million students at community colleges, representing more than 15% of the entire US undergraduate populations at degree-seeking institutions.
Along with our partners, the CLIMB Initiative seeks to answer three specific questions:
To learn more about our work in the CLIMB Initiative, or to inquire about joining the CLIMB partnership, click here.