Rachel Lander

Associate Scientist
Consulting Office for Research & Evaluation

Dr. Rachel Lander specializes in evaluating reform efforts and literacy programs in urban school districts. Using mixed-methods, she has researched several literacy programs in Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), including the District-Wide Comprehensive Literacy Plan, Literacy Coaches, and READ 180, providing both formative and summative evaluations.

Using a contextualized approach, Dr. Lander analyzes how the organization of schools and districts influences the effectiveness of teaching and learning. She is also working on a U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) grant with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee and MPS, evaluating the Milwaukee Community Literacy Project. This project intends to increase the reading proficiency of struggling readers in kindergarten through 3rd grade through support in school, community, and family spheres. Dr. Lander serves on the state-wide Governor’s Read to Lead task force.

In addition to MPS, she has done extensive work in Chicago Public Schools and worked in the District of Columbia Public Schools. Dr. Lander’s areas of expertise are: research and schools/district partnerships, qualitative research, formative evaluation, collaborative evaluation, evaluation design, strategic planning, and logic models. Her research interests are: literacy teaching practices, observation protocols, collaboration, school/community partnerships, and improvement in urban school districts.

She received her PhD from Michigan State University in Educational Policy, Curriculum, and Teacher Education where she was a Dean’s Scholar and a Spencer Fellow. She began her education career as a member of Teach For America as a middle school teacher in Phoenix, Arizona.

Current Research Projects

Milwaukee Community Literacy Project (MCLP)

Under the leadership of Dr. Curtis Jones, I am working as a collaborative evaluator. The Milwaukee Community Literacy Project is a partnership between Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Schools, and UW-Milwaukee focused on improving reading abilities of Kindergarten-3rd grade students by supporting them in three spheres: school, community & family.

Milwaukee Public Schools’ Comprehensive Literacy Plan Evaluation

I am working with Dr. Jones on a mixed methods evaluation of the Comprehensive Literacy Plan in MPS. Relying on qualitative and quantitative data, we work with the MPS steering committee to provide formative and summative data.

Focus on Reading Foundations (FRF)

Through a partnership between Northwestern Mutual Foundation, Milwaukee Succeeds, MPS and UW-Milwaukee, this pilot project provides intensive support (professional development, ongoing coaching) to Kindergarten-2nd grade teachers on reading intervention strategies.

5-in-1 Partnership at Dr. George Washington Carver Academy

I am working with Dr. Cheryl Baldwin on a formative evaluation of the partnership between 5 organizations (Milwaukee Public Schools, City Year, Teach For America, Schools that Can Milwaukee, and Northwestern Mutual Foundation) collaborating to improve student achievement outcomes at Carver Academy and to create a model for replication of organizations engaging in collective impact.