Graduate assistant’s work ethic and personal connections enrich education equity research

"Rayven Smart"

Rayven Smart | Graduate Research Assistant | Center for Educational Opportunity Programs

As a graduate of public schools in Kansas City, Kansas, Rayven Smart knows the impact that education can have on students in her home community. That firsthand experience enriches her contributions as a graduate research assistant at the Center for Educational Opportunity Programs in KU’s Achievement & Assessment Institute. 

“Rayven has been such a joy to work with over the past three years,” said Meghan Ecker-Lyster, director of CEOP’s research, evaluation & dissemination department. “She brings an authentic understanding of the KCK community to our work and is able to provide critical insights into a lot of the quantitative data we work with from that community.” 

Smart is a third-year doctoral student in educational psychology and has worked at CEOP for three years. In her capacity as a graduate research assistant, she helps with evaluation of the GEAR UP project, a partnership with Kansas City, Kansas public schools to improve career readiness, academic support and college financial planning in high school students. Smart assists with collecting data and creating reports to evaluate the program’s impact. 

“As a KCK native, she brings a wealth of wisdom and personal experience to the work that she does,” said Lauren Coleman-Tempel, director of the KU TRIO Training Program. “She has been instrumental in pushing conversations pertaining to racial equity in our K-12 school systems.”  

Due to her strong work ethic and commitment to justice, Smart was appointed to AAI’s Antiracism in Data Management project. This webinar series educates researchers who work with large social and educational datasets on best practices to avoid perpetuating inequities in their collection and analysis of data. Specifically, Smart is helping the project challenge current reporting structures for federally funded programs that pervade the urban education landscape. 

“The Antiracism in Data Management project is uplifted by Rayven's expertise,” Coleman-Tempel said. “We expect great things out of the career of future Dr. Smart.”