Using Research Evidence in Education

Using Research Evidence in Education
Using Research Evidence in Education


How does research penetrate education, from the federal level to states, districts, and schools? Researchers and editors Kara Finnigan and Alan Daly set out to answer this question along with other contributing scholars, policymakers, and practitioners in their new book, Using Research Evidence in Education: From the Schoolhouse Door to Capitol Hill. On October 28th, the American Youth Policy Forum hosted a webinar featuring Finnigan and Daly as they discussed key findings from their book about the uses of research in education policy and practice.


Presenters Included:

Alan J. Daly, PhD, Department of Education Studies, University of California, San Diego

Kara Finnigan, PhD, Warner School of Education, University of Rochester

Presenter Biographies

alan daly formattedAlan J. Daly graduated from Clark University with a BA in Psychology, received a MS in Counseling from San Diego State University, and a MA and Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in Educational Leadership and Organizations from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Over the last 15 years, Alan has held a wide variety of positions in public education ranging from classroom teacher to district psychologist to site administrator. In addition to his K-12 public education experience, Alan has most recently been the Program Director for the Center for Educational Leadership and Effective Schools at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he collaboratively supported the delivery of high quality services and research to 5 school districts focusing on the rigorous examination of strengths, building leadership capacity, and facilitating the potential of systems for transformation.

Alan has presented at the local, state, and national level around conflict mediation, the creation and maintenance of positive school cultures, and the impact of current accountability structures. As a licensed educational psychologist, he has also provided consultation to school districts working to build and sustain systemic leadership capacity, district reform, and implementation of adult and student conflict mediation systems. Alan’s research interests include social capital, the analysis of social networks, trust, educational policy, and the building of strengths-based systems of support.


kara finnigan formattedKara Finnigan joined the Warner School in 2003 and specializes in educational policy. Her courses focus on contemporary issues in educational policy, state and federal policy, sociology of education, and research methods.

Finnigan began her work in education as a substitute teacher in Anchorage, Alaska. She has conducted research and evaluations of K-12 educational policies and programs at the local, state, and federal levels for 20 years through her work at several prominent national research organizations, including the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, SRI International, RPP International, and the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

She has written extensively on the topics of low-performing schools and accountability policies; school choice, including charter schools and inter-district choice; social networks, trust, and school and district improvement; and principal leadership. Finnigan’s research blends perspectives in education, sociology, and political science; employs both qualitative and quantitative methods, including social network analysis; and focuses on schools serving low-income students and students of color in urban communities. She has published articles in the American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Educational Change, Educational Policy, Educational Administration Quarterly, Journal of School Leadership, Leadership and Policy in Schools, Journal of Educational Administration, Journal of School Choice, Urban Review, and Education Policy Analysis Archives. Her research also has been featured in practitioner-oriented publications, including School Business Affairs and District Administration magazines.

Finnigan’s research focuses on low-performing schools and districts and organizational learning; school improvement under sanction; access, opportunity, and outcomes for students of color participating in inter-district choice; parents’ responses to and involvement in the governance of choice policies; district reform; accountability policies; and the role of districts and states in school improvement.

Finnigan directed the doctoral and master’s programs in educational policy at the Warner School from 2005-13. She serves on the advisory board for the American Journal of Education and recently served as associate editor of the Social and Institutional Analysis section of the American Educational Research Journal.





View part one of the slideshow

View part two of the slideshow


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.