Michael Vaden-Kiernan, Ph.D.Director, REL Southwest
American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Michael Vaden-Kiernan, a managing researcher at American Institutes for Research (AIR), serves as the director of the REL Southwest. In this role, he coordinates and directs programmatic efforts to build capacity to use evidence-based policies, programs, and practices to address compelling education needs. He recently led the Applied Research and Evaluation Task for the REL Southwest, which involved overseeing the design, planning, and quality assurance of more than 20 studies in collaboration with principal investigators (PIs) and researchers at AIR as well as partner organizations. As part of this effort, he currently is co-PI on two studies in Texas assessing the effects and impacts of Texas House Bill 5 legislation on college and career readiness outcomes.
Dr. Vaden-Kiernan has more than 20 years of experience designing and implementing rigorous research and evaluation studies to address education policy questions. His research interests include early childhood education, assessment of reading and STEM curricular interventions, experimental and non-experimental research designs, and mixed-methods data collection and analysis. He currently is the PI on two multi-year Goal 4 scale-up cluster randomized trials assessing the effectiveness of widely adopted reading and mathematics programs (Open-Court Reading and Everyday Mathematics) as well as co-PI on a Goal 1 exploratory study of the UTeach teacher preparation program funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Research. Over the course of his career, Dr. Vaden-Kiernan has also been part of a number of national and state-level evaluations of early childhood education programs, including Head Start, Early Head Start, Early Reading First, Even Start, and state-funded prek programs in the Southwest region.
Dr. Vaden-Kiernan holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in community psychology from the University of Virginia. He was also a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.