February 27, 2021

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Study the state of the public school system

The impact of school closings on academic achievement, social and community indicators that affect student performance in the public system, and the results of the first charter schools on the island are some of the topics covered by the first investigations generated by the recently created Observatory of Public Education.

The Observatory was born last year as a result of a grant granted by PR Philanthropy – formerly known as the Network of Foundations – to promote research on educational issues, explained the director of the body, the professor of the Department of Economics of the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras Eileen Segarra.

“We have carried out different works to continue to contribute to the discussion based on all the information there is. The Department of Education has a lot of data, there are many reports that are requested, they are recurring reports. The important thing for us is to try to serve as a support to analyze many of these data because these analyzes take a long time, "explained Segarra.

The professor of Economics, for example, evaluated the indicators that impact academic achievement of public school students and concluded that, in high school, more than 60% of the variations in student performance are explained by sociodemographic variables, including poverty. Likewise, it reported that a high proportion of Special Education students negatively affects the performance of the school at the intermediate and higher levels, but in the elementary school it even has a positive impact.

“What we see, what we are seeing, is that the problem of Education cannot be solved only by the Department of Education. When you see that socioeconomic differences are such an important predictor of young people's academic performance, you know that the Department of Education alone cannot solve the problem. There has to be a comprehensive ‘approach’, ”said Segarra.

The first five studies prepared by the Observatory were worked out throughout the last school year. The results were presented in live internet broadcasts sponsored by Filantropía PR, but the full analyzes will be published starting in July, said José Caraballo Cueto, associate professor of the Cayey campus of the UPR.

The PR Philanthropy grant is It extends for two years, but Segarra announced that they are working to identify other sources of financing, and they have already started working on their next investigations.

In addition to these professors, the Observatory is made up of the former Secretary of Education and professor at the Graduate School Public Administration of the UPR, César Rey Hernández; Professor of Marxe School of Public and International Affairs of Baruch College at the University of the City of New York (CUNY) Héctor Cordero Guzmán; and the associate professor of the Department of Economics of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the UPR in Río Piedras Indira Luciano Montalvo.

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