Cara Jackson

Cara Jackson

Research & Evaluation

About Me

I am a Senior Associate in the Division of Social and Economic Policy at Abt Associates. I’ve conducted education research and evidence reviews on a variety of topics, including interventions intended to improve child outcomes, policies related to school and teacher quality, and school network expansion. My focus is on helping schools, districts, and education agencies improve the quality of educational opportunities. I also teach Economic Inquiry in Education at American University. Earlier in my career, I taught preschool and kindergarten in New York City.


  • Education policy
  • Teacher preparation
  • School and teacher quality


  • PhD in Education Policy

    University of Maryland

  • EdM in Education

    Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • BA in Psychology & Sociology

    Rutgers University

Recent Publications

Jackson, C. (2022). Democratizing the Development of Evidence. Educational Researcher. Online first on November 19, 2021.

Tarasawa, B., Gotwals, A.W., & Jackson, C., eds. (2020) Assessment Education: Bridging Research, Theory, and Practice to Promote Equity and Student Learning. Rowman & Littlefield.

Carinci, J., Meyer, S. & Jackson, C., eds. (2020) Linking Teacher Preparation Program Design and Implementation to Outcomes for Teachers and Students. IAP Book Series.

Wissinger, D. R., De La Paz, S., & Jackson, C. (2020, February 10). The Effects of Historical Reading and Writing Strategy Instruction With Fourth- Through Sixth-Grade Students. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication.

Connecting Research & Practice in Education

Visiting Scholar, Measurement & Evaluation Collaborative

4.0 Schools provides fellowships to support people in piloting and testing ideas to make education better in the United States. The Visiting Scholars support this work by providing coaching and feedback on measures of progress.

CALDER Policymakers Council

The National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) conducts fantastic policy-relevant research. The Policymakers Council supports this work by providing insight on the needs of policymakers.

Emerging Education Policy Scholars

The EEPS program seeks to counter the long-standing, well-documented divide between research and policy in education by connecting early-career scholars wtih education-policy experts.

Data Fellow

The mission of the Strategic Data Project is to transform the use of data in education to improve student achievement. SDP helps educational organizations by bringing together data leaders, giving them the right tools, and training them to take on ambitious data projects to make impactful decisions.

Blog Posts

Jackson, C. & Caswell, L. (2021, Dec 2). Build Back Better Provides Opportunities for Improving Teacher Preparation Abt Associates

Jackson, C., Harrison, C., Pullen, K.R., & Lowenstein, C. (2021, May 24). What Education Researchers Can Learn From Teachers Education Week: Classroom Q & A with Larry Ferlazzo.

Jackson, C., Pershan, M., & Woulfin, S. (2021, May 25). ‘There’s a Lot of Potential Learning From Teachers Waiting to Happen’ Education Week: Classroom Q & A with Larry Ferlazzo.

Jackson, C. 2019. When It Makes Sense to Experiment on Students — or “The Zone of RCTs”.

Jackson, C. 2019. Correlation is Not Causation and Other Boring but Important Cautions for Interpreting Education Research.

Jackson, C. 2019. Why Is There a Disconnect Between Research and Practice and What Can Be Done About It?.

Jackson, C. 2015. The Magic of Multiple Measures.

Jackson, C. 2015. Research on Teacher Evaluation Metrics: The Weaponization of Correlations.


About Practice (August 2022). Democratizing the Development of Evidence

Donuts in the Lounge: A Podcast for Educators (March 2022). The Rules Come From Somewhere

The Intersect (February 2022). The Whole Story: Education, Housing, and What the Qualitative Data Tell Us Abt Associates.

Let’s K-12 Better. (September 2020). Let’s Talk About… Education Policy and Research

Resources to support the use of evidence in education decision-making

I sometimes get asked for resources to support the use of research and evidence in education. These are few I’ve found useful:

Open SDP provides data, analyses and tutorials for every stage of the analytic cycle, from preparing and standardizing your data, to conducting analyses and producing visualizations.

The What Works Clearinghouse reviews the existing research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education.

Urban Institute’s Education Data Explorer makes it easy to access and analyze education data from multiple datasets.

My regular reads include Brookings Institution’s Brown Center Chalkboard for blog posts from a variety of education researchers and Chalkbeat for great journalism on education issues. For a parent and student perspective on education, check out the Let’s K-12 Better podcast.