Jon Guryan Co-Heads Urban Education Lab Researching Chicago School Day

Jon Guryan Co-Heads Urban Education Lab Researching Chicago School Day

Jonathan Guryan

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced this week that the Urban Education Lab, co-directed by SESP associate professor Jonathan Guryan, will partner with the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools to study the effects of the extended school day initiative in Chicago.

Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard made the announcement during a tour of Benjamin E. Mays Elementary School. Mays Elementary and Genevieve Melody Elementary School, along with 37 charter schools, are beginning a longer school day for the spring semester.

In partnership with the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute, the newly established Urban Education Lab has been commissioned to study the effects of extending the school day on CPS schools by taking advantage of the fact that pioneer schools are implementing the policy change during the 2011-12 academic year. The UEL will also partner with CPS to study the effects of rolling out the new policy citywide next academic year.

Guryan recently launched the UEL with University of Chicago professors Jens Ludwig and Stephen Raudenbush, along with Timothy Knowles, who heads the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago. “The idea is that it will be a network of researchers from around the country who work on education policy and who are interested in implementing randomized evaluations (or close substitutes),” explains Guryan.

“We wanted to build on the relationships we've been able to develop with the Chicago Public Schools and other urban public school districts, says Guryan, who notes that the UEL may be able to pair school leaders who seek to evaluate programs with researchers who are well qualified to lead rigorous studies. “Hopefully, in this way, we can build a portfolio of randomized evaluations of education policies." 

Knowles explained further, “The Urban Education Lab is dedicated to answering essential questions that will improve the quality of schooling in Chicago and across the nation. Understanding the impact of Mayor Emanuel's full school day initiative is of critical importance to Chicago and every urban school system in the country.”

Other projects Guryan is leading through UEL include research on dropout prevention and summer reading programs. With SESP assistant professor Kirabo Jackson, he is also researching a program that seeks to equip CPS students with the tools needed for college admission.

Besides Guryan and Jackson, other SESP faculty members affiliated with the Urban Education Lab research network include professors James Spillane and David Figlio. Spillane is studying a school leadership routine for observing classrooms, and through the Communities in Schools in Chicago project, Figlio is studying how involvement of community partners affects cognition and behavior for disadvantaged students.

For more information about UEL projects, visit

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 2/16/12