USC Price School of Public Policy

Katharine O. Strunk

Associate Professor of Education and Policy

3470 Trousdale Parkway
901E Waite Phillips Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90089-4039

Phone: (213) 740-2190

Curriculum Vitae

Ph.D. in Education Administration and Policy Analysis

Stanford University


Teacher labor markets, teachers’ unions, school accountability policies, education policy reform, education governance

Biographical sketch

Dr. Katharine O. Strunk is an Associate Professor of Education and Policy at the University of Southern California, with a joint appointment in the Rossier School of Education and the Sol Price School of Public Policy. Dr. Strunk’s research is focused on three areas, all of which fall under the broad umbrella of K-12 education governance: teachers’ unions and the collective bargaining agreements they negotiate with school districts, teacher evaluation and compensation, and accountability policies. Rooted in the fields of economics and public policy, Dr. Strunk’s work centers on structures that are central to district operations and policy and the ways these structures affect policymakers’ decisions and outcomes.

The underlying focus of Dr. Strunk’s work is to generate careful evidence that can inform policymakers in their efforts to improve student outcomes. Much of Dr. Strunk’s recent work is centered in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where she has served as a Principal Investigator on four different studies. One of these studies, funded by the federal Investing in Innovation (i3) grant, is examining the Public School Choice Initiative and district efforts to implement portfolio management and turnaround reforms. Another, funded by the Smith Richardson Foundation, is assessing the impact of layoffs and layoff threat on teacher career pathways. The last two are analyzing the district’s human capital reforms, including teacher evaluation and activities related to their Federal Teacher Incentive Fund grant. Dr. Strunk has also served as a Principal Investigator on a large multi-year study of California’s capacity-building efforts for schools in NCLB Program Improvement, as well as on several studies related to teacher collective bargaining and unions.

Recent publications stemming from this work include “Sorting out the Signal: Do Multiple Measures of Teachers’ Effectiveness Provide Consistent Information to Teachers and Principals?” (Education Policy Analysis Archives), “Incentive Policies and Teacher Staffing in California” (Educational Policy), “Economic Incentives as a Strategy for Responding to Teacher Staffing Problems: An Organizational Typology.” Educational Administration Quarterly, “How Should School Districts Shape Teacher Salary Schedules? Linking Student Performance to Pay Structure in Traditional Salary Schemes” (Educational Policy), “The Use and Efficacy of Capacity-Building Assistance for Low Performing Districts: The Case of California’s District Assistance and Intervention Teams” (Journal of Policy Analysis and Management), and “More Than Sanctions: Closing Achievement Gaps through California’s Use of Intensive Technical Assistance” (Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis). In addition, Dr. Strunk’s work has been published in other outlets, including Education Finance and Policy, Journal of Educational Administration, American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, Journal of Education Finance, Peabody Journal of Education, National Tax Journal and Phi Delta Kappan.

Dr. Strunk has received multiple honors for her research, including the Junior Scholar Award from the American Educational Research Association, a National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the New Scholar Award from the Association for Education Finance and Policy. In addition, Strunk serves on the editorial boards of the journals Education Finance and Policy, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and Journal of Education Finance. She recently completed a term on the governing board of the Association for Education Finance and Policy, and is a faculty affiliate of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) and a member of the National Research Team for the Education Research Alliance of New Orleans.

Before joining the faculty at the University of Southern California, Dr. Strunk was an Assistant Professor of Education Policy at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Strunk received her PhD in Administration and Policy Analysis and her MA in Economics, both from Stanford University, and her BA in Public Policy from Princeton University.