Professor Allison Atteberry Appointed Director of EdPolicyWorks


Kate Donovan

In August, Atteberry took the baton as director of the EdPolicyWorks research center from its founding leader, Jim Wyckoff.

The following profile was originally published by the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

The Center for Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness, or “EdPolicyWorks,” is a collaboration between the School of Education and Human Development and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. EdPolicyWorks brings together researchers from across UVA and the state to address important questions of educational policy. This August, EdPolicyWorks welcomed Allison Atteberry, associate professor of education and public policy, as its new director.

EdPolicyWorks aims to provide rigorous, timely and evidence-based research that informs and is informed by policy; to realize the synergies of an interdisciplinary research center situated in a university with distinguished educational scholars and able students; and to provide a community of scholarship where faculty, researchers and students are supported in their scholarly efforts. Atteberry is excited to continue working alongside distinguished scholars, including other EdPolicyWorks-affiliated Batten professors Lucy Bassett, Daphna Bassok, Ben Castleman, Isaac Mbiti, Dan Player, Sarah Turner and James Wyckoff.

“Part of the reason I decided to return to UVA, seven years after completing a postdoc here from 2011-2014, was to rejoin EdPolicyWorks,” Atteberry said. “EdPolicyWorks is a strong, tight-knit intellectual community of faculty focused on education policy research, and I find that the interactions and discussions I have as part of that community make me a better researcher.”

An essential part of the mission of EdPolicyWorks (“EPW”) is to address issues of inequality in education policy. Atteberry touches on the important role social justice issues play in the work of the center.

“Another thing that draws me to EPW is the fact that nearly all the research conducted by our researchers addresses issues of educational inequities,” she shared. “EPW researchers share an orientation to this work that acknowledges how policies and other systems-level forces shape ethnoracial and socioeconomic outcome disparities. We are committed to the ideal that public policies can improve educational opportunity, while also recognizing that, all too often, policies lack evidence that helps them realize their goals or recognize unintended consequences.”

Atteberry is quick to express her enthusiasm for her colleagues at EPW. When asked what drew her to return, she said, “In short, it's the people. The EdPolicyWorks affiliated faculty are a group of committed, kind and knowledgeable individuals that I feel grateful to share space with.”

In addition to world-class teaching and research, EdPolicyWorks also provides excellent opportunities for students and junior faculty through mentorship and the chance to work with faculty on grants and policy outreach efforts.

EdPolicyWorks focuses not solely on research, but also on policy in action. It uses rigorous academic research to develop actionable ideas for the real world.

Atteberry explains, “A unique feature of much of the EPW faculty's policy research is the close connection to policy in action. Many of our faculty conduct their research in direct partnership with district and state education agencies. This both enhances the quality of the research by getting feedback from the external policy partners and also provides an avenue through which the research can have immediate, real-world impacts.”

Ben Castleman, a Batten School faculty member also with EdPolicyWorks, shared what brings him to EPW, saying, “I think the most important aspect of EPW is its focus on fostering and sustaining strong partnerships between UVA researchers and public agencies and organizations, both in Virginia and across the nation. These partnerships support public agencies to pursue evidence-based policies and also provide researchers with access to expertise and insights from policy makers and practitioners with access to rich individual-level data."

Atteberry pays tribute to her predecessor, Jim Wyckoff, saying, “Perhaps the main reason I'm back at EPW after seven years away is because of my deep respect for Jim Wyckoff, who has been the director of EPW since it began. Jim has been a mentor and colleague to me, and I have long admired the culture he's fostered at EPW. I feel lucky to be returning and to get to follow in his footsteps leading EPW.”

Jay Shimshack, Batten’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, adds, “On behalf of the Batten School, I’d like to thank Jim Wyckoff for his extraordinary service to EPW, our school, UVA and our community. And we are absolutely thrilled to welcome Professor Atteberry as the new EPW director. Allison’s work exemplifies collaborative excellence. I have no doubt that the scope, scale and impact of EPW’s policy-engaged research and teaching will continue to grow under her leadership. We are truly delighted to have her onboard.”

In addition to world-class teaching and research, EdPolicyWorks also provides excellent opportunities for students and junior faculty through mentorship and the chance to work with faculty on grants and policy outreach efforts. The center has a dynamic program of events that are free and open to the public. Find their programming for this fall at Ed Policy Seminar Series.