Our national evaluation of Teach For America (TFA) examined the impact of TFA teachers on student learning, finding that students of TFA teachers made larger gains in math than students of other teachers, while holding their own in reading.
Paul Decker is a nationally recognized expert in policy research, data analytics, education, and labor policy. For three decades, he has been working to improve public well-being through the use of evidence to improve programs and policy. As president and CEO of Mathematica, Decker sets the company’s vision and strategy, oversees its operation and management, and shapes its values and standards. During his tenure as CEO, Decker has expanded and diversified the company’s operations and maintained its commitment to rigor and objectivity in new and evolving areas of research and analysis. Under his leadership, the company has:
- Grown to include nine locations nationwide, with more than 1,100 employees, nearly $300 million in annual revenue, and $800 million in work backlog.
- Integrated data analytics throughout the organization to better support effective policy and program development decisions through sophisticated data management and analytics, data mining, and predictive models.
- Launched an International Business Unit to provide high quality and objective research to funders and policymakers tackling today’s most pressing development challenges in countries throughout Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America.
- Created five dedicated research centers—the Center for Improving Research Evidence, the Center for Studying Disability Policy, the Center on Health Care Effectiveness, the Center for International Policy Research and Evaluation, and the Educator Impact Lab.
- Expanded its expertise and scope of work to include behavioral insights to improve program design and new methodological strategies, such as the application of Bayesian statistical methods to social program evaluations.
Decker is a past president of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management and has co-chaired the organization’s strategic planning committee and served on the policy council. He writes and speaks regularly on trends in the policy research field, including the emergence of Big Data and its impact on public program evaluation and management. Decker chairs the government relations committee of CEO Connection, and has testified before Congress, served as an expert adviser to both the U.S. and Canadian governments, and published widely in peer-reviewed journals.
Decker holds a Ph.D. in economics from the Johns Hopkins University and serves as chair of development on the board of advisers of the Thomas Jefferson Public Policy Program at the College of William and Mary, his undergraduate alma mater.
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.