Last week, the Urban Education Policy Speaker Series was proud to feature its second presenter of the semester, Dr. Stella Flores, an Associate Professor of Public Policy and Higher Education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College. Dr. Flores has served as a program evaluator for the U.S. General Accountability Office, a program specialist for the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and a policy researcher for the Texas State Legislature and various city governments in Texas.
Drawing on her research on the impact of state and federal policies on college access and completion for low income and underrepresented populations, Dr. Flores delivered a presentation titled “Do English Language Learners Go to College? An Examination of Long-Term Educational Trajectories”, which explored the impact of interventions, such as participation in ELL programs, on student outcomes like high school graduation and college attendance.
UEP students were enthusiastic for the opportunity to hear Dr. Flores speak about her research. Current student Kirsten Schmitz remarked that “UEP students take Quantitative Research Methods and Data Analysis our first semester, and so Dr. Flores’ presentation was especially well-timed. It was empowering to engage with her data on a higher level, drawing on the skill set we’ve developed in class and applying it to her findings around English Language Learners and college access.”
While engaging, the presentation also illuminated another side of education research and analysis: that the data encountered in the real world is not as neat or complete as the problems practiced in a classroom setting. UEP student Mateus Baptista noted that Dr. Flores’s work highlighted “the clear limitations of data sets and how researchers can only work with what they are given.” For instance, no data was available to Dr. Flores on students’ parents’ education levels, a factor which clearly may have some influence on student outcomes. These limitations served as a welcome reminder of the realities of education practice and research.
The UEP program is so grateful that Dr. Flores was able to visit Brown for the second installment of the Speaker Series, and looks forward to resuming in the Spring semester with new presentations!