Jessica Heppen is a vice president at AIR. Her research is primarily focused on technology, mathematics, and data use in secondary schools, with an emphasis on improving academic outcomes for diverse learners. Dr. Heppen has designed and led multiple studies of online learning in secondary schools, including three large-scale randomized controlled trials examining the effects of online and blended Algebra I courses, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The first in this series of studies was Access to Algebra I: Effects of Online Mathematics for Grade 8 Students (also known as the “Virtual Algebra study”), conducted for the Regional Educational Laboratory-Northeast and Islands, which examined the effects of offering an online course to broaden access to Algebra I on students’ achievement and later coursetaking patterns. A second study, Efficacy of Online Credit Recovery in Algebra I for At-Risk Ninth Graders examines the effectiveness of online Algebra I for credit recovery, relative to standard face-to-face versions of the course for helping at-risk ninth-graders get back on track toward graduation. A third study, recently funded by NSF, examines the impact of the Intensified Algebra program, a blended model for at-risk students in extended-time algebra classes.
Dr. Heppen also leads the Impact Evaluation of Math Professional Development, a national study commissioned by IES of the effects of a content-intensive mathematics professional development program on upper elementary teachers’ knowledge, classroom practice, and their students’ achievement.
In addition to designing and conducting rigorous large-scale evaluations, Dr. Heppen has led a series of studies investigating educators’ use of data and web-based data systems for driving educational decisions. These include the Urban Data Study, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded study of the use of interim assessment data for instructional improvement in urban school districts, and an investigation of educators’ use of data dashboards with a focus on analysis and visualization of weblog usage data.
In related work, Dr. Heppen has led several analyses (using state and local data) of the strongest predictors of student outcomes including high school graduation, dropout, and college enrollment, and established AIR’s varied initiatives related to Early Warning Systems (EWS). She has published articles, briefs and practical tools focused on high school improvement and increasing graduation rates by establishing EWS to identify, support and monitor at-risk students. Dr. Heppen is also currently the principal investigator for an IES grant-funded study of the implementation and impacts of Check & Connect, a dropout prevention mentoring program with a strong data use component.
Prior to working at AIR, Dr. Heppen conducted evaluation studies of educational technology interventions in secondary schools in New York City.