Dr. Michael Villarreal

Dr. Michael Villarreal is the founding director of the Urban Education Institute at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He also serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education Leadership and Policy within the College of Education at UTSA.

Michael performs quantitative evaluations of education policies and programs using experimental and quasi-experimental methods. His research agenda focuses on evaluation methodologies and the study of education programs that aim to improve the outcomes of economically disadvantaged students.

Michael’s recent research includes a quantitative impact evaluation of TEXAS Grants, a state-funded need & merit-based student grant program using a regression discontinuity research design; an impact evaluation of dual credit on student outcomes from high school to college graduation using a fixed-effects research design; an evaluation of a place-based scholarship and college-advising program using propensity score weighting; and an evaluation of full-day high-quality public prekindergarten in San Antonio using propensity score weighting.

As the founding director of the Institute of Urban Education, Michael is building the Institute as an education research-practice partnership that involves school districts, policy leaders, philanthropists, and educators of the greater San Antonio area.  The Institute believes it can increase the impact of collective efforts to help San Antonio raise its educational attainment levels by (1) supporting evidence-based decision-making of education policymakers, philanthropists, educators, parents and individual students; by (2) collaborating with education practitioners to integrate data analysis into programs of continuous improvement; and (3) by organizing a biennium conference that addresses education challenges that are deeply connected to broader social challenges affecting San Antonio schools, students and families.

Michael retired from the Texas Legislature after serving 15 years in the Texas House of Representatives.  He served on the committees of Public Education, Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, and Ways & Means; and retired as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee in 2015. A few of his legislative accomplishments include the creation of a state longitudinal education and workforce data system; programs that supported prekindergarten, college student financial aid, college credit transferability, and workforce development funding; amendment of state beer distribution laws to support craft beer in Texas.

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