Research Briefs

Our Work

UEI’s ability to conduct rigorous and actionable research starts with listening to our educators. It continues by keeping our local education stakeholders involved in discussions about the research as it unfolds. 

We aim to build a body of coherent research that builds upon itself over time using different methods and data.

We believe meaningful change in education practices and policies requires a steady drip of research, with each study penetrating more deeply a community’s beliefs.

We also believe a combination of research designs, methods, and data are best at getting closer to the objective truth. 


Empowering Futures: Examining the Relationship Between High School Career and Technical Education and College Enrollment in Bexar County

This brief investigates the impact of high school Career and Technical Education (CTE) coursetaking on immediate college enrollment for students graduating from public high schools in Bexar County in the 2019 and 2021 school years. The findings indicate that, in both cohorts, higher levels of CTE participation, such as CTE-Concentrators and CTE-Explorers, showed a higher likelihood of enrolling in two- and four-year colleges than students who did not take any CTE courses. However, the 2019 cohort revealed more elasticity in the predicted probability across CTE participation levels than 2021 cohort, highlighting the likely influence of dynamic labor market conditions on student college enrollment decisions.

San Antonio Education Partnership - Scholar Success Program
This brief summarizes key takeaways from the Urban Education Institute’s work surrounding the San Antonio Educational Partnership’s (SAEP) Scholar Success Program (SSP) between June and October 2023. These takeaways come from interviews with college students (n=16), two focus groups with college professionals (n=5), and one focus group with SAEP administrators.
Integrating a Social-Emotional Wellness Coach in a School Setting: A Case Study of the Basecampus Support Program & Teacher Wellness

Schools are becoming increasingly involved in helping youth improve their social and emotional
competence. Basecampus, a collaboration of three nonprofits, offers mental health education and
support for youth at two San Antonio high schools. It provides non-mental health professionals with
the tools, resources, and self-care support they need to confidently manage the prevention and early
identification of mental health issues in youth.

Using qualitative methods, this research brief explores how Basecampus participants: (a) perceive
barriers to school staff wellness, (b) perceive barriers to student wellness, (c) perceive their
confidence and frustration in addressing the SEL needs of their students, and (d) talk about their
experiences with Basecampus as a program to address their personal and student concerns.

High School Student Employment

SA Works is an industry-led strategic workforce development organization whose mission is to help
"develop true career pathways that lead to meaningful employment opportunities for all San Antonio
and Bexar County residents."

This brief provides a comprehensive description of employment patterns of high school students
across nearly two decades and disaggregates findings by important characteristics such as race and
ethnicity, economic status, language ability, special education status, and academic coursework
taken. This allows us to see which groups are being left behind, and lays the foundation for more
targeted interventions and future research. Employment patterns changed significantly during the
2007-2009 Great Recession, and high school employment rates have not recovered to pre-recession

COVID-19: Challenges and Solutions from Alamo Colleges District Faculty and Students

This study investigates how COVID-19 affected teaching and learning in San Antonio, with the hope of learning from the experience. It represents an early look at the Alamo Colleges District’s response to the sudden shift to emergency distance learning in the spring and summer of 2020. A comprehensive survey effort was used to take the pulse of the five colleges and find out from faculty and students what worked and what didn’t during this unique and unrivaled time. Survey data were collected from full-time and adjunct faculty members, and from full- and part-time students at each of the five colleges.

COVID-19: Food Insecurity, Digital Divide, Work, & Caregiving
Today, we are seeing increasing attention given to narrowing the digital divide, as there should be. But just as the pandemic has caused us to recognize that lacking technology is a barrier to learning, we too should recognize how hunger and larger issues of family instability harm a child’s growth. In this third report on teaching and learning during the Spring 2020 pandemic, we present survey research findings that describe the socioeconomic context our public school families lived through. Readers will learn about how 26 percent of families reported being without money to buy food when they ran out, and about how this food insecurity was negatively associated with student engagement. In the end, we will see how vital our public school systems are to bridging divides—not just in technology—but also food, safety, and security.
COVID-19: Student Engagement and Learning

This brief is the second product of a groundbreaking, community-wide survey program that takes the pulse of the most important members of our San Antonio educational ecosystem: students, their parents, and their teachers. It specifically delves into understanding student engagement and identifies the types of distance-learning lessons that were most effective during the abrupt shift to emergency distance learning in the spring of 2020. Through surveys, direct interviews with students over 16, and conversations with parents, the report aims to provide valuable insights for educators to plan more intentional emergency distance learning strategies for the upcoming school year.

COVID-19: Early Challenges and Solutions from Teachers

This study is the initial outcome of a research initiative by the Urban Education Institute at UTSA, aimed at understanding the impact of COVID-19 on education in San Antonio. The community-wide survey program involves students, parents, and teachers from eight school districts. Focusing primarily on teachers' experiences during the spring of 2020, this brief, based on survey data from 1,669 participants, offers a descriptive analysis of early challenges and experiences with distance learning. The aim is to assist school leaders in planning for the upcoming school year, with future research briefs delving into student and parent experiences and exploring specific themes raised by the responses.