Anja Kurki

About Me

Anja Kurki is a Principal Researcher at American Institutes for Research (AIR). Dr. Kurki migrated to the United States twenty years ago from Finland and returns yearly to visit family. She holds M.A. and Licentiate degrees in Political Science from University of Turku, Finland and a Ph.D. in Government and Politics with specialization in quantitative methods and political economy, from University of Maryland, College Park. Completing her primary and secondary education in Finland, her university studies both in Finland and in the U.S., working as a researcher conducting research on the U.S. K-12 system, and currently having her son in an elementary school in Maryland has made her to appreciate the best that both the Finnish and the U.S. education systems have to offer.

During her ten years at AIR Dr. Kurki has worked on multiple topics related to both equality and quality of the U.S. education system, such as

• Teacher and principal evaluation systems. How should teachers or principals be evaluated? What type of information would help teachers and principals to perform better?
• Teacher professional development. What kind of professional development is effective for teachers?
• Classroom and school behavior management. How to manage school and classroom behavior with strategies based on positive reinforcement? How to create a fair and equitable disciplinary approach?
• Structural barriers to educational opportunity. How does, for example, residential sorting affect the school systems?

Dr. Kurki has also worked on multiple large-scale education and public health related randomized controlled trials testing specific educational or behavioral interventions that have been funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the U.S. Department of Education. As part of her work and the trials she has had an opportunity to have hands-on learning experiences by visiting numerous school districts, schools, and classrooms which often are located in some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the United States.

Dr. Kurki has technical expertise in research design (experimental and quasi-experimental), instrument development (e.g., surveys, classroom observation protocol systems and web-based data collection and reporting systems), and analysis of complex data, including multilevel modeling, missing data analysis and imputation, and propensity scoring. She is also a trainer for the Good Behavior Game, a universal classroom-based behavioral strategy.

Recently Dr. Kurki has led multiple recruitment tasks including the IES-funded Teacher and Leader Evaluation Systems study and the Mathematics Professional Development study, overseeing the recruitment of districts and schools. She currently works as the project director for the IES-funded Good Behavioral Game Professional Development Models study, managing all aspects of the study including recruitment, data collection, analyses and result dissemination. She is also AIR’s Project Coordinator for the IES-funded Schoolwide Positive Behavior Supports (SWPBS) Impact Study leading the conceptualization and competing of potential SWPBS providers for the study.

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