Sara Rutherford-Quach

Principal Education Researcher, SRI Education

Sara Rutherford-Quach, Ph.D., a principal education researcher, specializes in language and literacy instruction, particularly in the elementary grades and with respect to linguistically diverse populations, as well as teacher preparation and online professional development. Trained as a linguistic anthropologist of education and teacher educator, she has more than 15 years of experience studying and measuring instructional quality in K–12 classrooms using qualitative and mixed methods approaches.

At SRI, Rutherford-Quach is the primary investigator for a mixed-methods evaluation of the expansion of a growing charter school organization, Alpha Public Schools, which serves a large number of emergent bilinguals.

She is also the teacher outcomes lead for a Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Expansion Grant that is studying the implementation and impact of a program designed to support English learners develop academic literacy skills in eight high-need school districts across the country. In this role, she leads a team of researchers whom are conducting and analyzing observations of high-leverage instruction practices.

Rutherford-Quach is also the qualitative lead for the evaluation of the National Writing Project’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-up grant implementing the College, Career, and Community Writers program, which spans 46 rural districts across 10 states. C3WP introduces teachers to new instructional practices through professional development, resources, and formative assessment tools for source-based argument writing. In her role as qualitative lead, Rutherford-Quach leads a team of researchers to investigate how local writing project sites implement, sustain, and scale the C3WP work.

Rutherford-Quach has published in several top journals, including Language Policy and American Educator. She regularly presents her work at the American Educational Research Association, the American Association for Applied Linguistics, and other. She frequently serves as a reviewer for the Journal of Literacy Research.

Before coming to SRI in 2018, Rutherford-Quach was the Director of Research & Academic Initiatives for Understanding Language at Stanford University. In this role, she developed professional learning materials and courses for educators of emergent bilinguals and English learners that impacted thousands of pre-service and in-service teachers while simultaneously conducting research on the role of language and literacy in content-area classrooms.

Rutherford-Quach earned her Ph.D. in linguistic anthropology of education, as well as two M.A. degrees, from Stanford University, where she was NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellow. Prior to her work as a researcher and post-secondary educator, Dr. Rutherford-Quach was a bilingual teacher in both Texas and California as well as a literacy center director. Rutherford-Quach also holds a B.A. in peace & global studies and Spanish from Earlham College.

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