EdPolicyWorks Speaker Series: Sarah Peko-Spicer

Building a Critical Quantitative Practice

  • - EDT
  • Holloway Hall (Bavaro 116)


Many of the quantitative research methods that dominate mainstream educational policy discourse were developed as analytical tools in service of eugenics (Clayton, 2020; Zuberi, 2001). These methods continue to be used, with little interrogation from quantitative researchers about what the methods say about the world, how we move through it, and what can be known about it.  In recent years, a subset of educational researchers has given renewed attention to correcting this trajectory by centering ethical approaches and anti-racist goals in quantitative methods. Yet, critical quantitative inquiry remains at the margins of education research, teaching, and learning, leaving many uncertain of how to best incorporate critical methods into their practice. In this talk, Dr. Peko-Spicer will discuss her own journey in applying a critical lens to quantitative methods development and applied research, drawing upon lessons from philosophy of science and community organizers. 


Sarah Peko-Spicer, Ph.D. is a researcher at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) where she is currently leading a youth-engaged evidence synthesis of social and emotional learning programs as well as an evaluation of a school-based youth participatory action research program. As a methodologist, she explores how quantitative methods recreate power structures and how they might be repurposed as tools for racial justice. She has expertise in meta-analysis, replication, and experimental design for treatment effect heterogeneity. 

 Peko-Spicer recently co-organized and facilitated Quant for What? Dreaming Toward Quantitative Paradigms for Anti-Racist Transformation, a four-part conference series centering liberatory approaches in quantitative research. She is a co-founder and current organizer of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness' Researchers of Color group (SREE-ROC). 

Peko-Spicer earned her PhD in Statistics from Northwestern University in 2021. Before that, she completed a B.S. in Economics and Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University and worked as a data analyst for Pittsburgh Public Schools. 

Event Information

Event Sponsor

  • EdPolicyWorks
  • Virginia Education Science Training (VEST) Fellowship Program