Faculty ProfileEMPHASIS AREA: SOEP. Education policy; Educational program evaluation; Educational stratification and equity; K-12 school desegregation
Michal Kurlaender Professor and Chancellor’s Fellow
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 systems.
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 challenges.
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 (1): 174-190.
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 Community Colleges.
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: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/hs/documents/hspathwayrpt.doc
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: http://poverty.ucdavis.edu
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, Davis). —$4,974,387
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). —$400,000
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). —$400,000
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 University). —$148,500
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). —$4,000,000
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 (2009)
The Effects of Institutional Practices on Postsecondary Trajectories: Matriculation, Persistence and Time to Degree. Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education—$470,808 (2007)
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 Foundation—$15,000 (2007)
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 Week.
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. Read more.
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, study.
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 online.
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 Education blog.
“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.