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Here are the backgrounds and research interests of the four Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) doctoral students working on the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Action Research Team during 2014-15. The Stanford/SFUSD partnership established the Action Research Team to better prepare Stanford doctoral students and provide SFUSD with timely research findings. A Supervisor of Research within SFUSD’s research department will oversee the Action Research Team. SFUSD’s Deputy Superintendent of Instruction and Assistant Superintendent of Research will establish the research agenda, and the Supervisor will help the team translate the research agenda into questions and projects meant to produce findings on shortened timelines, which administrators can readily reference in decisions.


Sade Bonilla

Advisors are Professors Eric Bettinger and Tom Dee

Third year of doctoral studies

Background/research interests: I am an urban public school graduate and first generation college attendee (BA, MA and PhD) who is dedicated to improving student outcomes by leveraging data to inform the strategic management of resources and policy decisions. I am a strong believer in university-district partnerships: as a MA student at Brown I worked with Providence Public Schools (PPS) and served as a Strategic Data Project Fellow in Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) through a partnership with Harvard's Center for Education Policy Research. During my work with PPS, APS I used internal data and followed state and national policy developments to create and communicate action-oriented reports for district and school leaders. As a doctoral student my interests focus on understanding and mitigating barriers to college entry. My recent work has included research on outcomes of Common Core Implementation in Kentucky and New York as well as research on the influence of high school graduation requirements on college enrollment and persistence.

Elisa Garcia

Advisor is Deborah Stipek

Third year of doctoral studies

Background/research interests: My interest in education research developed as a psychology major at Kenyon College, where I completed an Honors thesis studying early literacy in a Head Start classroom. Before coming to Stanford, I worked for the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) and the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, D.C. There, I contributed to projects on low-income student-parents' childcare access, and the economic impact of the early care and education sector. At AIR, I worked with school districts to support the evaluation of a literacy professional development program for low-income, urban elementary schools. My current research focuses on early childhood education and Dual Language Learners. I am interested in how peer effects interact with social-emotional competence and the classroom context to support language development in preschool-aged children learning English. I am also interested in how early education programs can best meet the needs of ethnically and linguistically diverse communities.

Nicole Tirado Strayer

Advisor is Assistant Professor Jelena Obradovic

Third year of doctoral studies

Background/research Interests: I began working in the education sector in the San Francisco Bay Area with Envision Schools, a CMO serving first-generation college-bound students. Having identified the schools’ need for behavior management support, I partnered with a local social service agency and together we developed a behavior management intervention. Through this collaboration, I began to understand the pervasive impact of community violence, family instability, drug abuse, and health related problems on students’ ability to thrive. Following this experience, I worked at a mental health clinic in New York City, where I established satellite clinics in a series of low-performing public middle schools in Harlem. In addition, I offered culturally sensitive outreach to connect Spanish-speaking children and families with mental health services. My work with NYC Public Schools underscored the need for adequately resourced and culturally relevant programming targeting low-income schools and communities. I later worked on a longitudinal study in partnership with Chicago Public Schools examining the outcomes of low-income minority preschool children after their involvement with our Head Start intervention. Following this experience, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Education in order to develop the skills that would benefit my future work as a researcher in a K-12 district.

Ericka Weathers

Advisor is Professor Sean Reardon

Second year of doctoral studies

Background/research interests: As a doctoral student, I am interested in racial and socioeconomic disparities in academic achievement for students in elementary and secondary public schools. I have an interest in understanding the school related policies and factors that influence the academic outcomes of students, as well as how schools can partner with communities and families to improve student achievement. I have five years of experience conducting evaluation research in community and school settings on issues related to academic outcomes, student support, children’s mental health, and juvenile justice. Most directly related to my role with the San Francisco Unified School District’s Action Research Team, is my experience conducting an evaluation of a program in the Seattle School District. Through this experience, I had the opportunity to work with local government officials, the superintendent of the district, principals, teachers, school support workers, parents, and students.