Kalena E. Cortes holds the Verlin and Howard Kruse ’52 Founders Professorship at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service. She is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor. She completed her Ph.D. in Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University.

Dr. Cortes’ research interest is in the area of the economics of education. Her research focuses on issues of equity and access, in particular, identifying educational policies that help disadvantaged students at the PK-12 and postsecondary levels. She has worked on three key areas: improving academic performance of urban students, increasing access to postsecondary education, and raising educational attainment of immigrant students. Most recently, she has been working on innovative parenting programs delivered by text messages to guide parents toward more purposeful parenting. She has developed a texting curriculum for parents of middle schoolers, Texts4Teens. Her middle school texting curriculum is a parent engagement program that focuses on the social-emotional skill development of children, child progression through school, and close parent-child relationships.

Her research has been funded by Spencer Foundation, American Educational Research Association, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Education – Institute of Education Sciences, University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, and the Greater Texas Foundation.