Department - Education

Child Trends’ education program area strives to identify and support educational policies, programs, and structures that create positive conditions for learning and, in turn, help youth of all backgrounds flourish throughout their education and beyond. Our research contributes to policies and programs that create a healthy school environment for students, school staff, families, and community members.  

Research has confirmed that schools, colleges, and universities are critical contexts for promoting social, emotional, physical, and academic development. Many educational institutions have made significant investments in recent years to increase the delivery of evidence-based, comprehensive support to students. Despite these advances, too many students continue to be left behind due to a lack of access to effective school-based supports. This is especially true for students with marginalized identities, including Black and Indigenous youth, LGBTQ+ youth, youth with disabilities, and youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.  

Child Trends’ interdisciplinary team is committed to reducing gaps in student outcomes by applying rigorous and innovative approaches that focus on educational systems and contexts that intersect at federal, state, and local levels to influence students’ academic achievement and overall well-being. For example, we analyze policies to help decision makers learn whether these policies are likely to achieve their intended outcomes. We also apply data science strategies to answer nuanced questions about which interventions work, for whom, and under which conditions. Our researchers strive to center the voices of youth and the adults who directly support them. For example, we have included high school and college students as research team members on projects, and several members of our team have experience working with youth and their families in education and social service settings. 

Our team also bridges the research-to-practice divide by ensuring that our research focuses on finding solutions to practical problems with strong potential to make a difference in the lives of children, youth, and the adults who support them. Our researchers have expertise in developing products—including infographics, webinars, reports, brief videos, and interactive data tools—that convey key messages using language that will be easily understood by target audiences. We also deliver research-based, data-driven training and technical assistance to federal, state, and local education agencies; other government agencies; and nongovernmental organizations to increase their capacity to use data and implementation science to reduce educational inequities and ensure that all students flourish.  

For more information about the Child Trends education program, please contact Winnie Chan, PhD, senior program director; and Brandon Stratford, PhD, deputy director.