Sheena McConnell

Sheena McConnell

Senior Fellow
  • Policies to promote employment in disadvantaged populations
  • Family strengthening policies
  • Effective teachers
  • Experimental evaluations
  • Benefit-cost analysis
Focus Areas
  • Employment
  • Economic Development, Job Creation, and Entrepreneurship
  • Training and Re-employment
  • Family Support
  • Strengthening Families and Responsible Fatherhood
  • Human Services
About Sheena

Sheena McConnell's research focuses on using experimental methods to learn about the effectiveness of programs and policies for vulnerable populations.

An expert in policies to promote employment and strong families in disadvantaged populations, she is directing a national experimental evaluation of the Workforce Investment Act Adult and Dislocated Worker programs. These programs, providing training, employment counseling, and other employment-related services, are the backbone of the public workforce investment system in the United States. The study involved randomly assigning about 35,000 job seekers in 28 sites across the United States.

McConnell recently directed a study of the effectiveness of math teachers who entered teaching through Teach For America or the Teaching Fellows programs. The study involved random assignment of over 8,000 students to teachers in over 80 schools. Data on the students were collected both from district records and by administering a study-specific computer-adaptive test in the classroom.   McConnell has also taken lead roles in complex experimental evaluations of programs to promote healthy relationships, responsible fatherhood programs, programs that assist people become successful entrepreneurs, and approaches to administering training vouchers. She also conducted an in-depth benefit-cost analysis of Job Corps—a residential program for disadvantaged youth                       

Prior to joining Mathematica in 1990, McConnell was a lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has published in the American Economic Review, Evaluation Review, the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, and the Journal of Public Analysis and Management (JPAM).  Together with other Mathematica staff, she won the Raymond Vernon Memorial Prize for the Best Article Published in JPAM. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University.

Key Projects
  • Evaluation of the Job Corps Program

    The study was the first nationally representative experimental evaluation of a federal employment and training program for disadvantaged youth. From late 1994 to early 1996, nearly 81,000 eligible applicants nationwide were randomly assigned to either a program or control group.

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Related Case Studies
  • three ies studies graphic
    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.

  • photo of construction site
    Improving the Quality of Life for Youth

    Through the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, Congress established Job Corps, a national vocational and academic training program for disadvantaged youth ages 16 to 24. The program costs the federal government $1.6 billion a year, making it one of the most expensive education and training programs funded...

Related Videos
  • Addressing America's Poverty Crisis: Building Worker Skills

    Addressing America’s Poverty Crisis continued the conversation on building worker skills, and discussed new proposals on apprenticeship programs, funding training programs for low-skill workers, and financial incentives for colleges to better prepare disadvantaged students for work. The panelists included...