Virginia Knechtel has almost two decades of experience conducting research in K–12 education. For much of the past decade, her research has focused on supporting funders, policymakers, and practitioners to generate timely data and evidence and use it to inform program design and strategic decision making. She is passionate about translating data and evidence into accessible information that can improve outcomes for educators, students, and communities. She also serves as a director of Mathematica’s Learning & Strategy function.
Knechtel currently serves as a senior advisor (formerly project director) for the Middle Years Math and Secondary Writing projects for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Both projects support Foundation grantees to engage communities in co-designing programs, products, or practices to improve outcomes for students who are Black, Latino, or experiencing poverty and to use data and evidence to iteratively improve and test them. For both projects, Knechtel oversaw the development of a measurement and evaluation process and toolkit designed to facilitate research and development and evidence-informed decision making. She also serves as the North Dakota partnership lead for the Regional Educational Laboratory Central. The partnership focuses on applying continuous improvement methodologies to support educators to use education technologies to differentiate instruction for students in math. As director of Mathematica’s Learning & Strategy function, Knechtel also supports recruitment, staff development, and community-building for a team of about 65 staff and contributes to making strategic organizational decisions.
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. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.