Dr. Kristin Klopfenstein, a native Coloradoan, is the founding executive director of the Education Innovation Institute at the University of Northern Colorado. An economist, she has devoted much of her career to furthering the use of causal education research, experience that laid the foundation for EII’s mission.
“EII is filling an important role by working with researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to advance the use of rigorous methods in education research,” says Dr. Klopfenstein.
“Rigorous research provides an essential base for creating responsible policy, understanding which programs and policies are most effective, and allocating scarce public resources efficiently.”
Prior to joining EII, she was the interim director of Texas Schools Project at the University of Texas at Dallas, a state repository for administrative, individual-level longitudinal education data. There, she managed operation of the center and conducted education policy research. Additionally, Dr. Klopfenstein spent ten years in the classroom as an associate professor at Texas Christian University where she taught courses on the economics of education, labor economics and econometrics (the application of statistics to economic problems, such as education).
“As an economist conducting research in education policy, I was frustrated by complaints from academics that their research was not being used to inform policy. Policy makers, on the other hand, complained that academic research was too inaccessible and laden with caveats to be helpful. And teachers complained that both researchers and policymakers were out of touch,” adds Dr. Klopfenstein. “EII works with all three groups to promote understanding of, and appreciation for, the benefits of causal education research so these important stakeholders can work toward the same large goals.”
Dr. Klopfenstein’s research interests focus on examining factors that influence low-income, rural, black, and Hispanic students’ preparation for college and the workforce.
A recognized expert on the Advanced Placement program, Dr. Klopfenstein is regularly interviewed by national and large-market media outlets, including The Denver Post, the Associated Press, and NPR affiliates. She also has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and was recently a co-author of AP: A Critical Examination of the Advanced Placement Program, published by Harvard Education Press that provides a comprehensive review of the AP program.