A Note from Maggie
Dear Partners and Friends,
I am beyond thrilled to share our first impact report with you, which represents our evolution over the last five years. When we started the Georgia Policy Labs (GPL), our hope was to bring together a “coalition of the willing” who believed we could use our collective strengths, the power of integrated data, rigorous research, and people’s curiosity and hope to transform systems to work better for each child, student, and family in Georgia. Our early conversations with our partners confirmed our belief. Now, through our partnerships with school districts, state agencies, and nonprofit organizations in Georgia and beyond, we have changed the trajectory of people’s lives through an unapologetic commitment to ensuring policies and programs are evidence-based and support every person’s capabilities.
We have developed this organization amid years where isolation, trauma, vitriol, and polarization have affected each one of us. While we’ve had to show our individual and collective mettle, we’ve also learned to listen more closely, seek the humanity in each other, and adjust our model to respond better to the needs of our partners. What became crystal clear was how we make our decisions. We always ask: How will this decision affect kids, students, and families in our communities?
There have been so many moments that have confirmed my belief in the need for an engaged research organization like ours. In the early days of COVID-19, the trust in our research-practice partnerships paired with the secure, research-ready data we hold allowed us to deliver the rigorous insights our partners needed to make more informed decisions week by week. In the pandemic’s wake, we have stood alongside our partners, helping them to evaluate and implement proven recovery strategies that have accelerated student learning. Throughout this report, you will read stories like these, where the evidence we produce is helping realize the capability and economic security of all Georgians.
GPL has gone through a marked evolution since its inception, yet our team and partnerships have kept our vision affixed to our North Star: improving policies and programs so that all people can thrive. It has been my honor and a privilege to do this work each day, with our team, our partners, and you.
Maggie Reeves, Founding Senior Director
Our Growth & Impact
- Dr. Tim Sass and Dr. Daniel Kreisman receive funding to build and lead K–12 and CTE research partnerships, the Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education (MAPLE) and the Career & Technical Education Policy Exchange (CTEx), respectively, and hire graduate students to support the work.
- MAPLE hires its first employee, a data scientist, in anticipation of receiving student-level data.
- CTEx's state-based research practice partnerships of faculty and state-level CTE leaders start integrating CTE data into state longitudinal databases in metro Atlanta, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Tennessee.
- MAPLE secures long-term partnership and data-sharing agreements with five metro-Atlanta school districts, encompassing nearly 30% of public-school students in Georgia.
- MAPLE publishes research summaries on areas of partner interest and hires two more staff for grants management and partner relationships.
- Maggie Reeves and the former dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Sally Wallace, envision a state-agency-based initiative and propose a larger organization, the Georgia Policy Labs. Leadership from the State of Georgia indicate early support for GPL.
- The Georgia Policy Labs hire Maggie Reeves as founding senior director, and she builds a team to support all three components of GPL.
- GPL receives one year of funding to build and seek sustainability for the state-agency-based Child & Family Policy Lab, and Georgia State University hires Dr. David C. Ribar to be its faculty director.
- The Child & Family Policy Lab secures data sharing agreements with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning and the University System of Georgia.
- GPL team members author a white paper that wins NASPAA's Data Science Curriculum for Public Service competition focused on the elements of a secure and usable data infrastructure for research.
- MAPLE and CTEx use their unique data to begin producing reports.
- MAPLE hosts a Community Advisory Summit to introduce its research to the broader community and connect new stakeholders to its work.
- The COVID-19 pandemic begins, and GPL modifies its approach to help partners address the fundamental challenges they face.
- MAPLE launches its first rapid-response project to address emerging issues in policy windows.
- The Child & Family Policy Lab produces its research and policy framework, a guiding document that outlines its initial research priorities that it co-created with its state agency partners, and starts using data to produce policy reports.
- MAPLE delivers 20 years of research-ready, documented student data to its district partners to help facilitate district-led research.
- The Georgia Policy Labs trains more than 250 people in creating and communicating research evidence as part of its free Summer Training workshops.
- GPL meets with policy and advocacy organizations throughout Georgia to co-create its unique value-add in an active policy ecosystem.
- GPL restructures its team so that all team members share responsibility for partner relationships, fundraising, and quality of research, which includes launching a Core Team to ensure power sharing, transparency, and equity throughout the organization.
- The Technical College System of Georgia officially joins the Georgia Policy Labs as a partner in its Child & Family Policy Lab.
- Child & Family helps the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services design a unique solution to overcome data challenges and administer the state's P-EBT plan, collecting and processing data for several state agencies and nonprofit partners to deliver $1.3 billion in food assistance to families experiencing pandemic-related food insecurity.
- CTEx adds research-practice partnerships in Montana and Washington.
- GPL continues producing reports about child care, education across the life course, and child welfare and transforms its publications to be more useful to policymakers based on partner feedback.
- The Georgia Policy Labs transforms an ad hoc relationship to a full partnership with Achieve Atlanta, its first nonprofit partner, for a series of projects that integrate data across MAPLE and Child & Family.
- Through the prestigious Institutional Challenge Grant, GPL launches an Engaged Research Competition at Georgia State to encourage research-practice partnerships for tenure-track faculty.
- CTEx gets financial support to study the impact of teacher qualifications for CTE courses across the nation, a topic magnified after the pandemic.
- GPL creates open-source data on Georgia students’ learning modes during the pandemic, which several national research projects use.
- GPL launches several mixed-methods projects to add the power of community voice to its integrated data.
- The Georgia Policy Labs integrates community voice directly into its research by hiring two Achieve Atlanta scholars, who are undergraduate students at Georgia State, as co-researchers on a critical participatory action research project.
- MAPLE’s rapid-response COVID-19 learning achievement work for the last three years is recognized after GPL receives three years of federal funding to continue studying pandemic-related interventions and acceleration strategies in metro Atlanta.
- Child & Family begins working with the National Institute for Student Success to amplify its post-secondary success portfolio.
- GPL shares current projects on its webpage to ensure more transparency and opportunities for community input.
- GPL adds affiliates to its research team from the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Georgia, and the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State.
- GPL joins a national effort to train the next generation of engaged CTE researchers.
- GPL hosts a summit to re-invite the community in our research process and publishes this first Impact Report. The team also moves to its permanent new home in the 55 Park Place building.
- Maggie Reeves, GPL's founding senior director, transitions to the Urban Institute after building an impactful, stable organization, and Thomas Goldring leads the organization as its interim senior director.
Career & Technical Education Policy Exchange
The Career & Technical Education Policy Exchange (CTEx) is a multi-state consortium of research-practice partnerships dedicated to improving the quality of high school career and technical education (CTE) and understanding the outcomes of CTE participation on college and career. Our network of engaged researchers works side-by-side with state and local CTE leaders to develop data driven recommendations. Our national consortium allows us to understand which findings are context dependent and which are generalizable across locales.
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- Michigan Department of Education
- Montana Office of Public Instruction
- Tennessee Department of Education
- Texas Education Agency
- Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Child & Family Policy Lab
The Child & Family Policy Lab (Child & Family) works to increase the education and economic security of Georgia’s children, young adults, and families through rigorous research and long-term partnerships with state agencies and a nonprofit organization. We analyze problems and solutions across families, lifetimes, and generations and prioritize actionable research that can help improve people’s lives. The work thinks about cross-sector solutions and reducing unintended policy consequences.
- Achieve Atlanta
- Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning
- Technical College System of Georgia
- University System of Georgia
Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education
The Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education (MAPLE) partners with five contiguous school districts in the metro-Atlanta area that collectively educate 30 percent of all Georgia’s public-school students. We evaluate the effectiveness of existing education programs and policies, design and test creative policy solutions, and boost our partners’ capacity to interpret the evidence.
During the pandemic when many children were learning virtually, the federal government provided food assistance funds for families whose children who would normally receive free or reduced-priced meals at school. The complexity of the eligibility criteria meant no one state agency in Georgia possessed the information to distribute these funds. Partners at the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services turned to the Georgia Policy Labs to help bridge cross-agency conversations, data collection, and data analysis. We leveraged our trust within the policy community to understand the concerns and opportunities across several state agencies, national experts, and nonprofit advocates. We collected data about school modalities during the pandemic and—after receiving the requisite data sharing agreements—quickly created complex eligibility analyses to ensure families received $1.3 billion in food assistance. Without our secure data infrastructure, relationships, and knowledge of education, school meals, and social safety net data, this program would not have been possible.
Achieve Atlanta and College Financing
Achieve Atlanta provides scholarships and services to eligible Atlanta Public Schools’ students to increase college enrollment, persistence, and success. As an evaluation partner, we’ve shown the value of Achieve Atlanta’s scholarship and services on students’ post-secondary persistence and graduation. We’ve now created a series of projects with Achieve Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools, the Technical College System of Georgia, and the University System of Georgia to examine post-secondary financial wellness of Scholars and their peers—a crucial element of the value of college. Amidst the longer-term projects, the federal government changed definitions related to Achieve Atlanta’s eligibility criteria. Because of the trusted partnerships and the existing cross-sector data, our team quickly conducted an analysis of financial need across all Atlanta Public Schools’ graduates—not just those who became Scholars—to help Achieve Atlanta make data-informed adjustments to their scholarship eligibility policy.