Associate Professor of Education
PhD, Stanford University
MPP, UC Berkeley
BA, Stanford University
K-12 Education Policy
Expert in K-12 education policy and governance, including accountability, teacher incentive programs, data-driven reforms, school district reform, social promotion, literacy coaching
Dr. Julie Marsh is an Associate Professor at the Rossier School of Education at USC and Co-Director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE). Marsh specializes in research on policy implementation, governance, and accountability. Her research blends perspectives in education, sociology, and political science. Over the past 20 years, much of her research has examined school districts as central actors in educational reform, including the roles played by central office administrators in both interpreting and creating policy, as well as the roles of other district actors–school board members, union leaders, citizens, parents, foundations, university partners, and community organizations–in advancing system-level reform and enhancing district capacity. Another focus of her research has been the implementation and effects of various accountability policies, including studies of the No Child Left Behind Act, performance-based evaluation and compensation, student promotion and retention policies, and charter schools. Marsh has also closely examined policies intended to support teachers and improve teaching, including research on data-driven decision-making, literacy coaches, professional learning communities, and math and science curricular reforms. Cutting across this research is a focus on the political dynamics of educational reform, the democratic nature of these efforts, and the effects of policy on practice.
Marsh is currently co-PI of a study of Los Angeles Unified School District’s Teacher Incentive Fund-supported human capital reforms, as well as studies of teacher evaluation in New Orleans and STEM curricular reform. She was also recently Principal Investigator (PI) of a Spencer Foundation-funded study, Bridging the Data-Practice Divide: How Coaches and Data Teams Work to Build Teacher Capacity to Use Data, and co-PI of a study of LAUSD’s Public School Choice Initiative. Recent publications include: “Using data to alter instructional practice: The mediating role of coaches and professional learning communities (Teachers College Record), “Trickle down accountability? How middle school teachers engage students in data use (Educational Policy), “Democratic engagement in district reform: The evolving role of parents in the Los Angeles Public School Choice Initiative (Educational Policy), and “Recent trends in intergovernmental relations: The resurgence of local actors in education policy” (Educational Researcher). She is also author of Democratic Dilemmas: Joint Work, Education Politics, and Community (SUNY Press) and co-editor of School Districts and Instructional Renewal (Teachers College Press). Link (includes copies of papers): http://usc.academia.edu/JulieMarsh/
Prior to coming to USC in July 2010, Marsh was at the RAND Corporation where she last served as Senior Policy Researcher. She received a Ph.D. in Education Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University, a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley, and B.A. in American Studies from Stanford University.
A RAND study led by Marsh earned media attention in July 2011 when the New York Department of Education ended a bonus program as a result of its findings. A Big Apple for Educators: New York City’s Experiment With Schoolwide Performance Bonuses found that the New York City schoolwide performance bonus program had no effect on students’ test scores, school report cards, or the way teachers reported doing their jobs. The New York Times was among the news outlets to feature the report.
Marsh specializes in research on K-12 policy and governance. Her research blends perspectives in education, sociology, and political science. Over the past 20 years, much of her research has examined accountability and instructional policy, with particular attention to the process and politics of adoption and implementation, and the ways in which policies shape practice in urban settings. This has included studies of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and NCLB-waiver systems, school turnaround, and teacher evaluation policy. Marsh has also closely examined policies intended to support teachers and improve teaching, including research on literacy coaches and math and science curricular reforms. One cross-cutting focus of this work relates to how teachers and administrators use data—not only test score results, but also student work, data on instructional quality, and data generated from the community—to inform their decisions and practice. A second major strand of her research examines educational governance and efforts to decentralize and democratize decision-making. Often focused on school districts as central actors in educational reform, these studies investigate school choice policy, participatory reforms calling for parent and stakeholder engagement, efforts to provide greater local control over school finance, and “portfolio” reforms that diversify management of school operations.
- Co-Director, Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) (2014 - present)
- Senior Policy Researcher, RAND, Santa Monica, CA, (2010)
- Full Policy Researcher, RAND, Santa Monica, CA (2006-2010)
- Associate Policy Researcher, RAND, Santa Monica, CA (2002-2006)
- Research Assistant, Center for the Study of Teaching & Policy, Stanford University, CA (1998-2002)
- Research Analyst, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA (1996-1998)
- Research Associate, RPP International (formerly Berman Weiler Ass.), Emeryville, CA (1995-1996)
- Consultant, CalServe Office, California Department of Education, Sacramento, CA (1994-1995)
- Research Associate, UC Berkeley Service-Learning R&D Center, Berkeley, CA (1994-1995)
Co-Principal Investigator (with LCFF Research Collaborative members). Implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula.
Co-Principal Investigator (with Katharine Strunk, Katy Bulkley, Doug Harris). The New “One Best System”? Urban Governance and Educational Practice in the Portfolio Management Model.
Co-Principal Investigator. (with Heather Hough). PACE-CORE Accountability System Evaluation.
Co-Principal Investigator (with Katharine Strunk). A Five-Year Evaluation of the Los Angeles Unified School District Teacher Incentive Fund Grant. LAUSD
Co-Principal Investigator (with Gale Sinatra). Speedometry: Developing and Evaluating a Hot Wheels STEM Curriculum.” Mattel Children’s Foundation (2014-2017)
Co-Principal Investigator (with Katharine Strunk). Evaluation of LAUSD’s Investing in Innovation (i3) Project, “Los Angeles’ Bold Competition - Turning Around and Operating Its Low-Performing Schools.” U.S. Department of Education (2010-2014)
Principal Investigator. Bridging the Data-Practice Divide: How Coaches and Data Teams Work to Build Teacher Capacity to Use Data. Spencer Foundation (2011-2013)
- Marsh, J. & Hall, M.* (In press) Challenges and choices: A multidistrict analysis of statewide mandated democratic engagement. American Educational Research Journal
- Huguet, A., Farrel, C., & Marsh, J. (2017). Light touch, heavy hand: Principals and data-use PLCs. Journal of Educational Administration, 55(4), 376-389.
- Marsh, J., Bush-Mecenas, S.*, & Hough, H. (2017). Learning from early adopters in the new accountability era: Insights from California’s CORE waiver districts. Educational Administration Quarterly, 53(3), 327-364..
- Marsh, J., Bush-Mecenas, S.*, Strunk, K.S., Huguet, A.,* & Lincove, J. (forthcoming) Evaluating Teachers in the Big Easy: How organizational context shapes policy responses in New Orleans. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
- Marsh, J. (2016). The political dynamics of district reform: The form and fate of the Los Angeles Public School Choice Initiative. Teachers College Record, 118(9), 1-54.
- Farrell, C.* & Marsh, J. (2016). A qualitative comparative analysis of teachers’ instructional responses to data. Teaching and Teacher Education, 60, 398-412.
- Strunk, K. Marsh, J. Hashim, A,* Bush,-Mecenas S.C.* & Weinstein.* (2016). Innovation and a return to the status quo: A mixed-methods study of reconstitution through the lens of organizational learning. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 38(3), 549-577.
- Farrell, C.* & Marsh, J. (2016). Metrics matter: How properties of data shape teachers’ instructional responses. Educational Administration Quarterly, 52(3), 423-462.
- Polikoff, M., Hardaway, T., Marsh, J., & Plank, D. (2016). Who is opposed to Common Core and why? Educational Researcher, 45(4), 263-266.
- Strunk, K., Marsh, J., Duque, M.* & Bush, S.* (2016). The best laid plans: An examination of school plan quality and implementation in a school improvement initiative. Educational Administration Quarterly, 52(2), 259-309.
- Marsh, J., Farrell, C., & Bertrand, M. (2016). Trickle down accountability? How middle school teachers engage students in data use. Educational Policy. Published online August 22, 2014: DOI: 10.1177/0895904814531653
- Strunk, K. Marsh, J. Hashim, A, Bush, S.C. & Weinstein, T. (2016). The impact of turnaround reform on student achievement: Evidence and insights from the Los Angeles Unified School District. Education Finance and Policy
- Bertrand, M. & Marsh, J. (2015). Teachers’ sensemaking of data and implications for equity. American Educational Research Journal.
- Marsh, J., Bertrand, M. & Huguet, A. (2015). Using data to alter instructional practice: The mediating role of coaches and professional learning communities. Teachers College Record.
- Marsh, J. & Farrell, C. (2015). How leaders can support teachers with data-driven decision making: A framework for understanding capacity-building, Education Management Administration and Leadership, 43(2), 269-289.
- Marsh, J., Strunk, K., Bush, S., & Huguet, A. (2015). Democratic engagement in district reform: The evolving role of parents in the Los Angeles Public School Choice Initiative. Educational Policy, 29(1), 51-84.
- Huguet, A. Marsh, J. & Bertrand, M. (2014) Building teachers’ data-use capacity: insights from strong and struggling coaches. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22(52), 1-26.
- Marsh, J. & Wohlstetter, P. (2013). Recent trends in intergovernmental relations: The resurgence of local actors in education policy, Educational Researcher, 42(5), 276-283.
- Marsh, J. & Farrell, C.* (2015). How leaders can support teachers with data-driven decision making: A framework for understanding capacity-building, Education Management Administration and Leadership, 43(2), 269-289.
- Marsh, J., Strunk, K. & Bush, S. (2013). Portfolio district reform meets school turnaround: Early Implementation findings from the Los Angeles Public School Choice Initiative. Journal of Educational Administration, 51(4), 498-527.
- Yuan, K., Le, V., McCaffrey, D., Marsh, J., Hamilton, L., Stecher, B., & Springer, M. (2013). Incentive pay programs do not affect teacher motivation and reported practices: Results from three randomized studies. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 35(1), 3-22.
- Marsh, J. (2012). Interventions promoting educators’ use of data: Research insights and gaps. Teachers College Record, 114(11), 1-48.
- Marsh, J. (2012). The micropolitics of implementing a school-based bonus policy: The case of New York City’s compensation committees. Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 34(2), 164-184.
- Marsh, J., McCombs, J.S., & Martorell, F. (2012). Reading coach quality: Findings from Florida middle schools. Literacy Research and Instruction, 51(1), 1-26.
- Stecher, B., Fuller, B., Timar, T. & Marsh, J., (2012). Deregulating School Aid in California: How Districts Responded to Flexibility in Tier 3 Categorical Funds in 2010-11. Technical Report. Santa Monica, CA: RAND and Policy Action for California Education (PACE).
- Marsh, J., Springer, M. G., McCaffrey, D. F., Yuan, K., Epstein, S., Koppich, J., Kalra, N., DiMartino, C., & Peng, A. (2011). A big apple for educators: New York City’s experiment with schoolwide performance bonuses. Santa Monica, CA: RAND: MG-1114-FPS.
- Fuller, B., Marsh, J., Stecher, B., & Timar, T. (2011). Deregulating school aid in California. How 10 districts responded to fiscal flexibility. Santa Monica, CA: RAND and PACE.
- Marsh, J., McCombs, J.S., & Martorell, F. (2010). How instructional coaches support data-driven decision making: Policy implementation and effects in Florida middle schools. Educational Policy, 24(6), 872-907.
- Lockwood, J.R., McCombs, J.S., & Marsh, J. (2010). Linking reading coaches and student achievement: Evidence from Florida middle schools. Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 32(3), 372-388.
- Marsh, J., Gershwin, D., & Kirby, S. (2009). Retaining students in grade: Lessons learned regarding policy design and implementation. Technical Report (TR-677-NYCDOE). Santa Monica, CA: RAND.
- Marsh, J., Hamilton, L., and Gill, B. (2008). Assistance and accountability in externally managed schools: The case of Edison Schools, Inc. Peabody Journal of Education, 83(3), 423-458.
- Hamilton, L.S., Stecher, B. Russell, J., Marsh, J., & Miles, J. (2008). Accountability and teaching practices: School-level actions and teacher responses. In Fuller, B., Hannum, E & Henne, M. (Ed.), Strong states, weak schools: The benefits and dilemmas of centralized accountability, Research in Sociology of Education, 16, 31–66
- Marsh, J., McCombs, J.S., Lockwood, J.R., Martorell, F., Gershwin, D., Naftel, S., Le, V., Shea, M., Barney, H., & Crego, A. (2008). Supporting literacy across the sunshine state: A study of Florida middle school reading coaches. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, MG-762-EDU.
- Stecher, B., Epstein, S. Hamilton, L., Marsh, J., Robyn, A., McCombs, J., Russell, J.& Naftel, S. (2008) Pain and gain: Implementing No Child Left Behind in three states, 2004-2006. Santa Monica, CA.: RAND: MG-784-NSF.
- Ikemoto, G. & Marsh, J. (2007). Cutting through the “data driven” mantra: Different conceptions of data-driven decision-making. In Moss, P.A. (Ed.), Evidence and decision making: National Society for the Study of Education Yearbook 2007, 106(1).
- Marsh, J. (2007). Democratic dilemmas: Joint work, education politics, and community. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
- Hamilton, L., Stecher, B., Marsh, J., McCombs, J.S., Robyn, A., Russell, J.L., Naftel, S., & Barney, H. (2007). Standards-based accountability under No Child Left Behind: Experiences of teachers and administrators in three states. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, MG-589-EDU.
- Kerr, K., Marsh, J., Ikemoto, G., Darilek, & Barney, H. (2006). Strategies to promote data use for instructional improvement: Actions, outcomes, and lessons from three urban districts. American Journal of Education, 112(4), 496-520.
- Marsh, J., Pane, J.F., & Hamilton, L.S. (2006). Making sense of data-driven decision making in education: Evidence from recent RAND research. RAND Occasional Paper (OP-170-EDU). Santa Monica, CA: RAND.
- Marsh, J., Kerr, K., Ikemoto, G., Darilek, H., Suttorp, M.J., Zimmer, R., & Barney, H. (2005). The role of districts in fostering instructional improvement: Lessons from three urban districts partnered with the Institute for Learning. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, MG-361-WFHF.
- Gill, B., Hamilton, L., Lockwood, J.R., Marsh, J., Zimmer, R., Hill, D., & Pribesh, S. (2005). Inspiration, perspiration, and time: Operations and achievement in Edison Schools. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. MG-351-EDU.
- Hightower, A., Knapp, M., Marsh, J., & McLaughlin, M. (Eds.) (2002). School districts and instructional renewal. New York: Teachers College Press.