Dr. Cheri Fancsali is Research Director at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. Dr. Fancsali has over two decades of experience in research and evaluations of school- and community-based educational programs that target underserved youth, with a strong focus on teacher effectiveness and professional development, school reform initiatives, STEM, afterschool programs, and socio-emotional learning.
As Research Director, Dr. Fancsali supervises the Research Alliance’s ongoing studies and guides the development of new work. She ensures that the Research Alliance applies rigorous and appropriate study designs for each project, and helps develop effective collaborations with local stakeholders, as well as education researchers across the country.
Prior to joining the Research Alliance, Dr. Fancsali was the Managing Director of Education Research and principal research scientist for IMPAQ International. Previously, she was Director of Research and Evaluation for AED’s Center for School and Community Services. Dr. Fancsali has served as principal investigator and project director for a number of large-scale studies, including national evaluations.
Currently, she is co-principal investigator of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded randomized study of After-School Math PLUS (ASM+), an innovative after-school math program. She is also co-principal investigator of an NSF capacity-building project to advance research on girls’ mathematics identity. Other STEM-related projects include a study of the Science Mentoring Partnership project and the NSF-funded Great Science for Girls, an afterschool capacity-building initiative with a focus on providing high-quality, gender equitable STEM programming.
Dr. Fancsali has also examined the social and emotional aspects of learning, including a review of the intervention and assessment landscape in higher education and its alignment to employer needs and expectations. She also led a study that scanned practices related to student agency employed by schools participating in the Raikes Foundation-funded Middle Shift Learning work, and conducted a review of student academic mindset interventions for the Stupski Foundation.
In the area of teacher professional development, Dr. Fancsali has designed and led numerous studies. Most recently, she led randomized controlled trials of WestEd’s Reading Apprenticeship teacher professional learning model and adolescent literacy framework to improve student literacy and learning. She is currently working on a study of this model funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development grants that will explore the impact of a hybrid face-to-face and online model of professional development on middle school teachers and students.
Much of Dr. Fancsali’s work has focused on helping practitioners and policymakers use data more effectively. She played a pivotal role on the New York City Middle School Initiative evaluation, where she helped develop and facilitate a process for teachers and administrators to use project implementation and outcome data to inform program improvement and strategic planning efforts. Dr. Fancsali has also conducted research about capacity building efforts, including a study of the U.S. Department of Education’s Comprehensive Technical Assistance Centers, which are designed to assist states and local education agencies in implementing school reforms and improvement efforts.
Before beginning her career in education research, Dr. Fancsali was an early childhood and special education teacher in New York City. She has also taught graduate level courses in evaluation at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Dr. Fancsali holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Education from Columbia University, as well as an M.A. in Education Policy from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in special education from the University of Wisconsin.