We hit the ground running in 2019 with new research ranging from arts education to food insecurity to HISD reform.

So far in 2019, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, which includes the Houston Education Research Consortium, has released multiple reports.

In case you missed any of the releases, we've compiled them here with brief summaries on their findings and importance. 

Investigating Causal Effects of Arts Education Experiences: Experimental Evidence from Houston's Arts Access Initiative

Art, theater and music teachers have sung this song for decades: Arts education helps students in their academics. But HERC's research, in partnership with the Brookings Institution, shows that it helps in more ways than just academics. 

Researchers Daniel H. Bowen of Texas A&M University and the University of Missouri’s Brian Kisida found arts-learning experiences can reduce disciplinary infractions, increase students' compassion for others and improve writing skills. 

Furthermore, arts-education experiences improve school engagement and college aspirations. 

"We find that a substantial increase in arts educational experiences has remarkable impacts on students’ academic, social and emotional outcomes," the Brookings Institution noted following the release of the report. "In terms of our measure of compassion for others, students who received more arts education experiences are more interested in how other people feel and more likely to want to help people who are treated badly."

HISD's Decentralization Reform (Part 3: Decentralization and Student Achievement)

This is the third report from HERC regarding Houston ISD's decentralization reform in the 1999-2000 school year. Previous reports described how decentralization was enacted and reported principal attitudes towards the current decentralized model . 

For the third report, researchers examined the impact of decentralization on student outcomes. 

One of the findings in the report concludes decentralization was not related to increasing test scores of students and was not related to passing rates of economically disadvantaged students and black ro Hispanic students. 

HISD's Decentralization Reform (Part 4: Funding)

For the fourth and final report from HERC regarding HISD's decentralization reform, researchers examine the district's general fund budgeting strategy to see how much money schools received and how the funds were used during the 1999-2000 through 2015-2016 school years. 

Key findings include:

  • Middle schools and high schools had larger total general fund budgets and more per-student spending than elementary schools.
  • Small schools had higher per-student spending than non-small schools, even though their total general fund budgets were not different.
  • Schools with a higher proportion of economically disadvantaged students had larger total general fund budgets while having slightly lower per-student spending.
  • Enrollment size was the best predictor of key personnel at a school, with larger schools being more likely to have assistant principals, counselors, nurses and librarians.

Challenges of Social Sector Systemic Collaborations: What's Cookin' in Houston's Food Insecurity Space?

This report presents the findings of a more than 33-month investigation into how Houston's nonprofits, government programs and for-profit businesses can work more collectively in order to efficiently and effectively battle Houston's hunger.

An estimated 724,750 people are considered food insecure, according to the report. The researchers argue Houston's hungry will only be served well if organizations work together. 

"If the goal is to address the problem of food insecurity, it should not matter which organization does this or receives credit for it," the researchers argue in the report. "We encourage nonprofit organizations to share more of their knowledge and to create and adopt user-focused collaborations with other organizations."