Virginia Knechtel

Virginia Knechtel

Principal Researcher
Expertise
  • Rapid-cycle evaluation
  • Evidence-based decision making
  • Evidence-informed grant making
  • Place-based approaches
  • Evaluation technical assistance
  • Research design and implementation
Focus Areas
  • Human Services
  • Education
  • College and Career Readiness
  • School Choice and Charters
  • School Reform
  • Strengthening and Disseminating Research
  • Teacher and Principal Effectiveness
  • Teacher and Principal Preparation and Support
About Virginia

Virginia Knechtel is associate director for Learning and Strategy. As associate director, she helps guide strategy for the function and supervises a team of researchers and senior researchers. She is also an experienced project director who designs evaluations, leads education research teams, and provides evaluation technical assistance to K–12 education organizations delivering a wide variety of programs and practices.

Knechtel is the project director for the Middle Years Math Solutions portfolio and senior advisor for the Secondary Writing Solutions portfolio for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In these roles, she leads teams of experts to provide evaluation technical assistance to grantees. The technical assistance is focused on supporting grantees to use an iterative approach to evaluation. The approach is designed to generate timely evidence to inform product or program development and, ultimately, to advance the foundation’s goals of improving outcomes for students who are Black, Latino, or experiencing poverty. She also oversees the development of a set of tools and resources to support the approach and advises on evidence-informed grant-making strategy. Knechtel serves as the deputy project director for an Evaluation of Promise Neighborhoods and Full-Service Community Schools for the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, where she is leading the design of a future rigorous study of Full-Service Community Schools. Previously, she has led or helped lead a feasibility study for an Impact Evaluation of Promise Neighborhoods, evaluations of TNTP’s Turnaround Leadership Teams Strategy, and evaluations of KIPP charter schools. She also previously led the development of principal and teacher evaluation systems for Charleston County Public Schools, incorporating input from a wide variety of stakeholders including teachers, principals, and district leaders, and served as the lead methodologist for Single Study Reviews on the What Works Clearinghouse.

Knechtel joined Mathematica in 2008. She is a former high school special education teacher and Teach For America corps member. She holds an M.P.P. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Key Projects
  • Promise Neighborhoods Case Studies

    Mathematica conducted in-depth, multi-method case studies that focused on five of the Promise Neighborhood grantees, which provided short-term formative input to efforts to improve the program.