Ira Nichols-Barrer

Ira Nichols-Barrer

Principal Researcher
  • Education evaluations
  • International development
  • Experimental and quasi-experimental designs
Focus Areas
  • Education
  • College and Career Readiness
  • School Choice and Charters
  • Strengthening and Disseminating Research
  • Labor: Strengthening and Disseminating Research
  • International Research
  • Human Services
  • Education and Workforce Development
About Ira

Ira Nichols-Barrer’s research focuses on education as well as international democracy and governance. He conducts large evaluations of school choice policies and practices, in addition to evaluations in developing and post-conflict countries.

Nichols-Barrer is leading the evaluation design and analysis for a project to assess the accessibility and usability of school choice information for school-age-children’s parents. He is also a lead technical reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education’s Regional Educational Laboratories, which partner with school districts, state departments of education, and others to use data and research to improve academic outcomes for students, ensuring products are policy-relevant, methodologically sound, and clearly written. He managed complex data collection efforts and led rigorous analyses for a national study on the effectiveness of Charter Management Organizations, a nationwide evaluation of KIPP middle schools, and an evaluation of KIPP’s efforts to scale up under an Investing in Innovation grant. His international work includes designing and implementing a rigorous evaluation of education interventions in the Republic of Georgia, and evaluating programs to strengthen civil society, civic participation, media, and the justice sector in Rwanda.

Prior to joining Mathematica, Nichols-Barrer worked with the Jameel Poverty Action Lab, the Government Accountability Office, and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. He holds an M.P.P from Harvard University and is a referee for Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and the Journal of School Choice.

Key Projects
  • School children in classroom with teacher
    KIPP: Preparing Youth for College

    Mathematica built on its initial study of KIPP middle schools with this five-year project, designed to address the question of whether KIPP can maintain its effectiveness as the network grows. The study included an impact analysis, an implementation analysis, and a correlational analysis.

  • Georgia school building
    Georgia: Impact Evaluation of the General Education Project

    The Millennium Challenge Corporation supported Georgia’s Improving General Education Quality Project. This project involved training of STEM teachers and improvements to school facilities. Mathematica’s study required multiple evaluation designs and data collection activities.

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Related Case Studies
  • Comparing the Predictive Validity of High-Stakes Standardized Tests

    This study, conducted for the state of Massachusetts, examined the predictive validity of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam when compared to a specific state assessment--the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS)—that it would be replacing.

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