Kirk Walters is a managing researcher at AIR whose research focuses on understanding ways to improve K-12 math teaching and learning. His work has been funded by a variety of governmental agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as private foundations. These projects include experimental trials of math professional development programs; experimental studies of online and blended Algebra I programs; mixed methods evaluations of student-centered teaching and systemic instructional initiatives; and research partnerships with policymakers and practitioners, including improvement science-oriented partnerships.
Dr. Walters is currently principal investigator of the NSF-funded Intensified Algebra Efficacy Study, a large-scale randomized trial of a double-period, blended algebra course developed by Agile Mind. He is also principal investigator of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation-funded Better Math Teaching Network, a collaboration among high school math teachers, math instructional leaders and improvement science researchers designed to increase student engagement and achievement in algebra. Walters serves as co-principal investigator of the IES-funded Access to Eighth-Grade Algebra Study, a mixed methods study of the short and long term outcomes of taking Algebra I in eighth grade for students with different levels of readiness. He is also co-principal investigator of the Developing Teaching Expertise in K-5 Mathematics Study, an NSF-funded evaluation of an online teacher professional development system developed by researchers at the University of Michigan. Walters also directs the U.S. Department of Education-funded Promoting Student Success in Algebra I Study, which provides practitioners and policymakers with evidence on how to improve algebra achievement for struggling students.
Walters recently held leadership roles on two large-scale experimental evaluations of content-focused math professional development programs funded by IES. He co-directed the Elementary School Math Professional Development Impact Evaluation, which concluded in 2016, and oversaw the implementation in the Middle School Math Professional Development Study, which concluded in 2011.
Before entering graduate school, Dr. Walters spent nine years as an urban middle and high school math teacher in the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. metro areas, serving as a department chair, mentor teacher, and math professional development facilitator. This experience as a practitioner continues to inform and sharpen his work.