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Neil Seftor

Principal Researcher, SRI Education

Neil Seftor, PhD, designs and conducts rigorous evaluations of education programs to identify what works in improving student outcomes. During the past 19 years, he has applied these methods to examine the effectiveness of a wide range of K–12 and post-secondary interventions and policies for federal agencies and foundations.

Seftor has conducted research on a wide range of topics, including college preparation, financial supports, teacher quality, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Seftor evaluated Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math-Science, and Talent Search, three national programs that prepare students from low-income households to enter and succeed in college. Seftor authored an article examining how changes in the means-tested federal Pell Grant program affected enrollment decisions of potential students in their 20s and 30s. Other studies of federal financial aid include evaluations of the Pell Grant expansions, the effects of tightening credit standards on student enrollment at historically Black colleges and universities, and loan repayment and fellowship programs for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Seftor examined the effects of teacher quality in studies of teacher induction programs and moving high-performing teachers to low-performing schools and evaluated the effectiveness of four early math curricula.

Prior to SRI, as the project director and co-principal investigator of the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) initiative, Seftor developed many of the WWC’s signature components, including the training and certification process for reviewers, the study review guide used by reviewers in assessing research, the procedures and standards handbooks, and several other products. Seftor also contributed to the quality and consistency of other evaluations and systematic reviews, serving as a senior advisor and quality assurance reviewer for more than a dozen evaluations, developing quality assurance guidelines for other federal systematic review projects, participating as a member of the Interagency Federal Review Learning Group, and publishing three articles on systematic reviews.

Seftor earned his PhD in economics from the University of Virginia.

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