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Emily Kern

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations

Program: K-12 Educational Leadership and Policy (ELP)
Admission year: 2013

Emily Kern is a doctoral candidate in the department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, specializing in K-12 Education Policy Studies with a minor in Quantitative Methods.

Emily received both a Bachelor’s degree (Psychology) and a Master of Arts in Teaching (Grade 3-8 Math) from Willamette University (Salem, OR). She then spent five years teaching middle school math—four years at a low-performing Title I school in Texas and one year at a high-performing school in New Hampshire—and another four years as a school-based Instructional Coach in Texas. In addition, Emily served as a district curriculum writer, provided professional development to teachers and instructional coaches, mentored new teachers, and reviewed textbooks for publishers.

Emily’s time in the public school system highly influences her research interests, which include district and school accountability policies, improving mathematics education at scale, and opportunity gaps for traditional disadvantaged groups. Her dissertation focuses on the ways that schools respond to the incentives of school accountability systems, including the unintended consequences related to how school ratings are determined. Dr. Dale Ballou serves as her dissertation committee chair.

During her time at Vanderbilt, Emily has worked both as a research assistant for several studies and as the instructor of record for the undergraduate course Public Policy. She did both quantitative and qualitative work for Dr. Paul Cobb and Dr. Thomas Smith on the longitudinal “Middle School Mathematics and the Institutional Setting of Teaching” (MIST) project, which worked with districts to support the improvement of math instruction at scale. In addition, she spearheaded a quantitative comparative analysis of math instruction between classrooms in urban districts in the U.S. and China (MIST-China). Emily has also collaborated with Dr. Jason Grissom to assess the relationship between a racially representative educator workforce and minority student education outcomes and to examine how principals in urban schools spend their time.

Upon completing her doctorate, Emily intends to work as a researcher and teaching faculty member.