Mimi Engel photo 2022
Associate Professor and Program Chair
Research & Evaluation Methodology

Institude of Behavioral Science, Room 363
University of Colorado Boulder
249 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Mimi Engel is an associate professor and Program Chair of the Research and Evaluation Methodology (REM) program in the CU Boulder School of Education. 

Through her research Dr. Engel aims to contribute to our understanding of how policies and programs affect children’s developmental outcomes and opportunities to learn. Her interest in studying how schools and other contexts influence students is informed by her training in human development and social policy and social work. Spanning several areas including 1) p-12 teachers (policies that affect public school teachers and teacher labor markets, particularly in large urban districts), and 2) early childhood education (kindergarten, P-3 alignment, mathematics teaching and learning), and contextual influences on children, the central aim of her research is to provide new information about contexts, policies, programs, and administrative factors that have the potential to improve students’ school-related outcomes, particularly among students from marginalized groups.

Dr. Engel uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to conduct program evaluations and analyses investigating issues in education policy. She has conducted a number of studies in the Chicago Public Schools and worked at the Consortium on Chicago School Research. She also utilizes large-scale national databases in her research. Her publications include peer-reviewed articles in Educational ResearcherAmerican Educational Research JournalEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, the Journal of Education Finance and PolicyDevelopmental Psychology, and Educational Administration Quarterly, among others.


PhD Human Development and Social Policy, School of Education, Northwestern University, 2008

AM Social Work, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, 1998

BA History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993 

Teachers: Dr. Engel is currently working with Denver Public Schools through a Research-Practice Partnership focused on the District's teacher workforce and teacher policies with the aim of improving teacher retention and student outcomes. This work is generously funded by a William T Grant Foundation Institutional Challenge Grant, an Institute of Education Sciences(IES) RPP grant, and support from CU Boulder and the School of Education.

Early Childhood Education: Dr. Engel is analyzing data and publishing results from a 3 year study that involved extensive classroom observations in P-3 classes in New York City. This work is generously funded by the Heising Simons Foundation.

Teacher Workforce Collaborative, a Research-Practice Partnership

Overview: Professors Allison Atteberry and Mimi Engel from the CU Boulder School of Education are in the early stages of forming a long-term, research-practice partnership (RPP) with the Denver Public School District (DPS), called the Teacher Workforce Collaborative (TWC).  TWC connects CU professors with DPS’ Talent Management team. The focus of the RPP is closing Denver’s large and persistent achievement gaps. The mechanism for doing so—strengthening the District’s teacher workforce—is the focus of the Partnership. 

Motivation: Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic achievement gaps in DPS are among the largest in the United States. Hispanic-White and Black-White gaps are 2 to 3 times larger than average gaps nationally and are at the 97th percentile of all U.S. districts. The sheer magnitude of this problem necessitates that TWC focus on strategies that have the greatest potential for moving the needle. Research consistently shows that teachers are the number one in-school malleable factor for improving student outcomes. However, research also documents troubling inequalities in access to effective teaching among schools within districts. Non-White and low-income students also typically attend schools with less experienced teachers and higher teacher turnover rates. The connection between the teacher work force and youth inequality therefore arises due to reduced access to effective teachers in schools serving students from historically marginalized populations.

Activities: The TWC Core Team, comprised of researchers at both institutions, comes together on a bimonthly basis to craft and pursue a Joint Research Agenda related to understanding and strengthening DPS’ policies to recruit, place, develop, and retain the strongest teachers for the students who need them most. We produce internal policy documents for our DPS Partners, and we publish relevant findings in peer-reviewed journals. In addition, we develop junior researchers’ skills to conduct high-quality, place-based research. 

Dr. Engel is currently teaching EDUC 8230, a core course in the School of Education doctoral programs that provides an introduction to statistics and quantitative analysis. She regularly teaches a course in program evaluation, as well as courses in both introductory (i.e., basic statistics, linear regression) and more advanced (experimental and quasi-experimental methods) statistics.

Engel M, Jacob R, Claessens A, Erickson A. (2021) Kindergarten in a Large Urban District. Educational Researcher, 50(6):401-415. 

Engel, M., Claessens, A., Watts, T.W., Stone, S.I. (2016). Socioeconomic Inequality at School Entry: A Cross-Cohort Comparison of Families and Schools. Children and Youth Services Review. 71, 227-232.

Engel, M., Claessens, A., Watts, T.W., & Farkas, G. (2016). Mathematics Content Coverage and Student Learning in Kindergarten. Educational Researcher. 45(5), 293-300.

Engel, M., Jacob, B., & *Curran, F.C. (2014) New Evidence on Teacher Labor Supply. American Educational Research Journal, 51(1), 36-72.

Engel, M., Claessens, A., & Finch, M.A. (2013). Teaching students what they already know? The (Mis)Alignment between mathematics instructional content and student knowledge in kindergarten. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 35(2), 157-178.

Engel, M. (2013). Problematic Preferences? A Mixed Method Examination of What Principals Look for when Hiring Teachers. Educational Administration Quarterly, 49(1), 52-91.