Faculty ProfileEMPHASIS AREA: SOEP. Education policy; Educational program evaluation; Educational stratification and equity; K-12 school desegregation
Michal Kurlaender Professor and Department Chair
Michal Kurlaender investigates students’ educational pathways, in
particular K-12 and postsecondary alignment, and access to and
success in postsecondary schooling. She has expertise on
alternative pathways to college and college readiness at both
community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. In
addition to working with national data, Kurlaender works closely
with administrative data from all three of California’s public
higher education sectors–the University of California, the
California State University and the California Community College
Kurlaender also studies the impact of racial and ethnic diversity
on student outcomes. She is an expert on the dismantling of
federal mandatory and voluntary K-12 school desegregation plans
and persistent inequalities in segregated minority schools,
including access to adequate classroom resources and good
teachers. She has worked with several school districts that have
undergone major changes in enrollment as a result of legal
Education policy; program evaluation; educational stratification
and inequality; access and success in postsecondary schooling;
K-12 school desegregation; economics of
education; quantitative methods; sociology of education
Ed.D. (2005) Harvard University Graduate School of Education
Ed.M. (1997) Harvard University Graduate School of Education
B.A. (1995) University of California, Santa Cruz
Stevens, A., Kurlaender, M., & Grosz, M. (2018). Career
Technical Education and Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from
California Community Colleges. Working Paper 21137, National
Bureau of Economic Research. Forthcoming. Journal of
Human Resources, 54 (4).
Kurlaender, M., Carrell, S., & Jackson, J. (2016). The
Promises and Pitfalls of Measuring Community College Quality.
The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 2
Friedmann, E., Kurlaender, M., & VanOmmeren, A. (2016).
Addressing College Readiness Gaps at the College Door:
Institutional Differences in Developmental, Education at
California’s Community Colleges. New Directions for
Jackson, J. & Kurlaender, M. (2016). K–12 Postsecondary
Alignment and School Accountability: Investigating High
School Responses to California’s Early Assessment Program.
American Journal of Education, 122:477-503.
Kurlaender, M., Martorell, F., & Reed, S. (September 2016).
High School Exit Exams: A Review of the Literature, Current State
Reforms, and Analysis of California Assessment Data. Research
Brief to the California Department of Education. Available at:
Stevens, A., Kurlaender, M., & Grosz, M. (2015). Community
College Career Technical Education Programs Significantly
Increase Earnings. U.C. Davis Center for Poverty
Research, Policy Brief, Vol. 4, No. 5. Available at:
Carrell, S., Kurlaender, M., Page, M. & Kramer, K. (2015). How
Does the AIM Program Affect Student Outcomes in the Davis Joint
Unified School District? A Report Submitted to the Davis Joint
Unified School District. Available at: http://www.djusd.net/aim
California’s College and Career Readiness Standards in the
Era of Common Core Assessments. 2015-2020. Institute of Education
Sciences, U.S. Department of Education (PI, with collaborators:
Paco Martorell and Scott Carrell, University of California,
Exploring Policy Levers in Intersegmental Collaboration.
Irvine Foundation. 2017-2019. (PI, sub-contract to Policy
Analysis for California Education Center grant, David Plank (PI)
Stanford University Graduate School of Education). —$100,000
Understanding College Outcomes of California Bay Area
Students. Stupski Foundation. 2017-2018. (Co-PI with collaborator
Sherrie Reed, University of California, Davis). —$372,500
Intersegmental Data Partnerships Project. College Futures
Foundation. 2017-2018. (Co-PI with collaborators Sherrie Reed and
Patrick Lee, University of California, Davis). —$250,000
Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and
Research. 2017-2018. College Futures Foundation (Co-PI, with
Susanna Cooper, University of California, Davis). —$150,559
Never Judge a Book by Its Cover: Use Student Achievement
Instead. Gates Foundation. 2017-2018. (PI on California Project
with collaborators Scott Carrell and Paco Martorell, sub-contract
to Center grant, Thomas Kane (PI) Harvard University Graduate
School of Education). —$117,532
Feasibility Study on the Impacts of Workforce Development
Programs in California. 2016-2017. California Workforce
Development Board (PI, with collaborator Ann Stevens, University
of California, Davis). —$49,989
Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and
Research. 2016-2018. Irvine Foundation (Co-PI, with collaborator
Susanna Cooper, University of California, Davis). —$200,832
Exploring Student Success and Persistence in College: The
Role of Faculty. 2015-2017. College Futures Foundation (PI, with
collaborator Scott Carrell, University of California, Davis).
California Community Colleges and Career Technical Education:
A Researcher-Practitioner Partnership. 2015-2017. Institute of
Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education (PI, with
collaborator Ann Stevens, University of California, Davis).
National Center on Developmental Education Assessment and
Instruction. 2014-2019. Institute of Education Sciences, U.S.
Department of Education (PI on California Project, sub-contract
to Center grant, Thomas Bailey (PI) Teachers College, Columbia
California Community Colleges, Vocational Programs and
Workforce Development: Improving the Workforce and Improving
Lives. 2013-2016. Research Investments in the Sciences and
Engineering, University of California (Co-PI with Ann Stevens,
University of California, Davis). —$500,000
Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and
Employment. 2012-2015. Institute of Education Sciences, U.S.
Department of Education (PI on California project with
collaborator Ann Stevens, University of California, Davis.
sub-contract to larger Center grant, Thomas Bailey (PI) Teachers
College, Columbia University). —$60,000
Center for Poverty Research. 2011-2016. U.S. Department of
Health and Human Resources (Co-investigator, with Ann Stevens and
Marianne Page, Co-PIs, University of California, Davis).
Ready or Not? California’s Early Assessment Program and the
Transition to College. Institute of Education Sciences, U.S.
Department of Education—$1,800,000 (2010)
Understanding Barriers and Examining Interventions: A Project
to Study Postsecondary Access and Success Using State
Administrative Data. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—$350,000
The Effects of Institutional Practices on Postsecondary
Trajectories: Matriculation, Persistence and Time to Degree.
Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of
College Readiness to Degree Completion: Remedial Placement
and Patterns of College Persistence. Association for
Institutional Research—$30,000 (2007)
Early Predictors of High School Dropout. Bill & Melinda Gates
Professor Michal Kurlaender continues to be one of the leading
university-based scholars who are doing the most to influence
educational policy and practice in the United States. This is the
third consecutive year that she has been included in the
RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings published in Education
President Obama’s proposal to make community colleges free is a
valiant effort to address the rising demand for skilled workers
throughout the nation and to improve college access for
low-income students. As states consider his proposal, they would
be wise to look to California. Our research in the state suggests
that low tuition can put higher education within reach for many
low-income students, but it is no panacea.
Michal Kurlaender is an associate professor of education and
Chancellor’s Fellow at UC Davis. Jacob Jackson is a researcher at
the Public Policy Institute of California.
Associate Professor Michal Kurlaender has been named a
co-director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE),
an independent, nonpartisan research center based at Stanford
University, UC Berkeley, the University of Southern California,
and UC Davis.
PACE seeks to define and sustain a long-term strategy for
comprehensive policy reform and continuous improvement in
performance at all levels of California’s education system, from
early childhood to postsecondary education and training. Learn
more about PACE at http://www.edpolicyinca.org/.
Michal Kurlaender, associate professor of education, has joined
an elite group of UC Davis faculty members named 2013-14
Chancellor’s Fellows. The honor recognizes outstanding records of
achievement among early career faculty. Each fellow receives a
$25,000 prize to support his or her research, teaching and
service activities. Kurlaender retains the title of Chancellor’s
Fellow until July 1, 2018. The Davis Chancellor’s Club and the
university’s Annual Fund support the program.
University of California-eligible students with weaker high
school grades and test scores typically fared about as well,
after four years in college, as higher-ranking students who were
admitted, according to a new University of California, Davis,
Michal Kurlaender, associate professor in the UC Davis School of
Education and Matthew F. Larsen, a postdoctoral teaching fellow
in economics at Tulane University, recently released a study on how high
school achievement tests can be good predictors of how students
will fare in community college. The researchers also point out a
“disturbing” achievement gap, with Latino and black students
being less likely than their Asian and white peers to take and
pass transfer-level college courses. And that the gap occurs even
among students who performed well on their high school tests.
Read Paul Fain’s article at
Inside Higher Ed.
Federal and state leaders need to focus more on
policies that improve educational attainment and college and
career success and less on test scores
In November, the U.S. Department of Education released new
high school graduation rates for each state, using what the
department called a “common, rigorous measure.” The picture is
bleak for California, which ranks 32 among other states in high
school completion. More troubling are the persistent disparities
between racial/ethnic groups; white graduation rate is 85
percent, whereas Latino and African American graduation rates are
70 percent and 63 percent respectively.
The School of Education’ Center for Applied Policy in Education
(CAP-Ed), in partnership with the Poverty Research Center at UC
Davis, hosted leading education advocates in panel discussion
about education policy in California and the ramifications of the
November election on school finance in the state. “Education
Policymaking in a Time of Uncertainty: Reflections from the Third
House” was organized by Michal Kurlaender, associate professor of
education policy and leadership. View the discussion
School of Education Professor Michal Kurlaender explained that
colleges (both state and community colleges) are eager to see the
new Common Core Standards in place in hopes that they will better
align instruction in K-12 with higher education and improve
college readiness among incoming freshman. Kurlaender is an
expert on student readiness and success in higher education.
Read the whole article here.
Michal Kurlaender, associate professor, looks at the impact of
ending affirmative action in a new post on the Harvard
University’s Voices in
“Disparities by race/ethnicity in college enrollments,
postsecondary destinations, and degree attainment remain
striking. Higher education may not have created these
inequalities, but it should confront them head on in making
decisions about eligibility, admission, and financial aid,”
writes Kurlaender. Read more about Michal Kurlaender’s research
at her profile.
June 2010 – Michal Kurlaender, an associate professor in the
School of Education, has been awarded a $1.8 million federal
grant to study a unique California program established six years
ago to help high school students better prepare for college.
The National Academy of Education has awarded Michal Kurlaender a
Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship in recognition of her significant
contributions to education research. Spencer’s program supports
early career scholars working in critical ares of education. The
program also develops the careers of its recipients through
professional development activities involving the National
Academy of Education members.
For Michal Kurlaender, conducting “research that matters” means
tackling some of the most vexing and controversial problems in
education: school desegregation and integration, access to
college, and race.