The focus of school improvement strategies has shifted from reforming whole schools to improving the quality of instruction in individual classrooms.
- Design and implementation of rigorous impact evaluations
- Education policy
- Teacher and Principal Effectiveness
- Teacher and Principal Preparation and Support
- School Choice and Charters
Melissa Clark specializes in the design and implementation of rigorous impact evaluations, with a focus on education policy.
Clark's recent research has focused on how best to train and support teachers and school leaders. She was the principal investigator for a random assignment evaluation for the U.S. Department of Education that assessed the impact of teachers from highly selective alternative certification programs, such as Teach For America and Teaching Fellows programs, on secondary student math achievement. She also directed a random assignment evaluation of Teach For America's impacts on student achievement at the elementary school level, funded by an i3 scale-up grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
Clark is currently principal investigator on two random assignment studies for the U.S. Department of Education—one of intensive professional development for principals and one of instructional coaching for novice and early career teachers. She is also directing a quasi-experimental study for the Wallace Foundation on the effects of efforts to improve the performance of principals through enhanced support for their supervisors.
Clark has published in the Journal of Human Resources, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Economics of Education Review, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, and the Journal of Population Economics. She coauthored The Market Comes to Education in Sweden: An Evaluation of Sweden’s Surprising School Reforms, a book from the Russell Sage Foundation. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University.
Impact Evaluation of Departmentalized Instruction in Elementary Schools
Study of Feedback for Teachers Based on Classroom Videos
This evaluation is examining whether video-based observations and feedback help novice and early career teachers enhance classroom practices and student achievement.
Secondary Math Teachers from Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows Programs
Students assigned to TFA teachers scored higher than those assigned to comparison teachers, with the difference roughly equivalent to an additional 2.6 months of math instruction. Students taught by Teaching Fellows teachers had about the same math scores as peers taught by comparison teachers.
Designing an Impact Evaluation of Teacher Preparation and Professional Development
This study provided comprehensive recommendations for a rigorous evaluation of promising approaches to training and supporting effective teachers.
Assessing the Effectiveness of the Teach For America i3 Scale-Up
A new rigorous study assesses the effectiveness of a major expansion effort by Teach For America, funded in part by a five-year Investing in Innovation (i3) scale-up grant of $50 million from the U.S. Department of Education.
Building the Knowledge Base on Teacher Preparation and Effectiveness
Mathematica designed and conducted three large-scale studies on the relationship between teacher preparation and effectiveness, using the most rigorous approach possible—random assignment of students to teachers from different kinds of programs—and compared student test scores to gauge teacher effectiveness.
Research Recap: Addressing Teacher Shortages in Disadvantaged Schools
A video examining a study of middle and high school math teachers from Teach For America and the TNTP Teaching Fellows programs that showed they are as effective as, and in some cases more effective than, other math teachers in the same schools.