Sola Takahashi is a Senior Research Associate with the Improvement Science program and leads WestEd’s improvement analytics work. Currently, Sola leads the Math Practical Measurement project to gather, develop, and support the use of “practical measurement” to advance equity in middle grades math instruction. She also provides continuous improvement training and support for many other improvement projects including early grade literacy and teacher preparation programs, and she focuses on the intersection of improvement science methods and advancing educational equity.
For over a decade Sola has led large-scale efforts to develop and use measurement to improve educational systems through a continuous improvement approach. A seasoned designer and facilitator of trainings, she integrates continuous improvement methods into a wide range of coaching, technical assistance, and research. Her work is informed by the years she served as a public school teacher in the Bay Area.
Sola received her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, her master’s in education from the University of California at Berkeley, and her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.
Rebecca Perry is a Senior Program Associate. Her work focuses on math and science standards implementation and teacher professional development. See, for example, the Math in Common evaluation for more information. Rebecca is interested in continuous improvement as a way to center inquiry and evidence and put a positive spin on every possible individual and organizational process.
Prior to joining WestEd, Rebecca worked at the Mills College School of Education, as co-Principal Investigator for the Lesson Study Group, where she conducted research on lesson study implementation and the use of lesson study and mathematical content materials to support learning. One study with the Lesson Study Group was one of the two professional learning programs out of 643 reviewed by the IES What Works Clearinghouse found to show successful impact on student achievement.
Rebecca received a PhD in education administration and policy analysis with a minor in organizational theory from Stanford University and a BS in cognitive science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kirk Walters is Director of Mathematics. His projects use a range of methods to develop and evaluate interventions aimed at improving math teaching and learning. He currently leads two federally funded projects to design state-of-the-art professional development for elementary math specialists and adult numeracy instructors; a large-scale effectiveness study of an online homework tool for middle school; and two improvement science projects involving secondary math teachers.
Kirk’s prior research work includes a variety of mixed methods evaluations of math interventions. He also spent a decade as a secondary urban math teacher. This experience continues to inform his work and commitment to strengthening the connections between practice and research. As a teacher, he viewed each lesson as an experiment, full of surprises and opportunities for iterative improvement. This is partly why improvement science resonates so deeply with him as a practical lever for change.
Kirk received his PhD in social foundations of education from the University of Maryland, studied curriculum and instruction as a master’s student, and mathematics and social studies as an undergraduate.
Angela Knotts is a Research Associate and has worked in mathematics education for 16 years as a teacher, researcher, and PD leader. Her work focuses on research and technical assistance around professional learning for mathematics teachers and leaders, most recently as Co-Director of the WestEd/SVMI Mathematics Network, which supports Southern California districts in improving mathematics teaching and learning.
As a classroom teacher, Angela developed and taught mathematics courses ranging from middle school math to AP Calculus, designed and led a wide range of PD experiences for inservice and preservice teachers, and coached and supervised Bay Area teacher candidates in secondary mathematics. Angela believes strongly that teachers and instructional leaders are never finished learning, and loves the push to constantly ask how we can serve all students more effectively that improvement science ideas and tools bring to her work with teachers.
Angela holds a master’s of education and teaching credential from Stanford University and a BA in mathematics from Oberlin College.
Kate Hirschboeck is an Improvement Research Specialist at WestEd, with an interest in practical measurement and user-centered evaluation for learning.
Prior to WestEd, Kate managed evaluation efforts for the Danish Refugee Council and the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education, and was a high school history teacher in Boston.
Kate has a master’s degree in public policy from Tufts University.
Andrew Brannegan is an Improvement Analytics Specialist at WestEd. His work focuses on data analytics and visualization in continuous improvement efforts, including projects focused on teacher preparation, measurement, and educational access.
Before joining WestEd, Andrew served as research director at Hamilton Families, a homelessness service provider for families in San Francisco, and as a senior data analyst at Aspire Public Schools. Andrew was also a special education teacher at two elementary schools in Oakland Unified School District.
Andrew received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wake Forest University and a MPP and PhD in public policy and administration from American University.
Jahneille Cunningham is an Improvement Specialist who is committed to supporting education stakeholders seeking sustainable change and equitable learning environments for all learners, especially those from historically marginalized and underserved communities. Her research expertise is in mathematics identity in K-12 students, teaching mathematics for social justice, and race/racialization in mathematics classrooms.
Before joining WestEd, Jahneille was a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA’s Center X, where she provided field and research support to the STEM+C3 teacher residency program. In this role, she supported teacher candidates and mentor teachers learning to integrate social justice pedagogical practices in their math and science teaching.
Jahneille earned her PhD in education from UCLA and a BA in sociology from the University of Miami.
Fiona Read is the Project Manager for the Improvement Science team. Her work includes managing team operations, providing leadership and alignment of team projects, coordinating cross-program collaboration efforts, leading the team’s equity work, and event planning and execution.
Prior to joining WestEd, Fiona worked as Director of Special Projects at California Charter Schools Association, supporting the efforts of the organization’s community organizing program. As an Education Pioneers Fellow, Fiona served as Project Manager for the dissemination of the Unconditional Education model at Seneca Family of Agencies. Fiona started her career in education as a preschool teacher before working at the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network as their Research and Communications Associate.
Fiona holds a master’s degree in early childhood education policy and advocacy from Mills College and a BFA from the University of Georgia.
WestEd is a nonpartisan, nonprofit agency that conducts and applies research, develops evidence-based solutions, and provides services and resources in the realms of education, human development, and related fields, with the end goal of improving outcomes and ensuring equity for individuals from infancy through adulthood. For more information, visit WestEd.org. For regular updates on research, free resources, solutions, and job postings from WestEd, subscribe to the E-Bulletin, our semimonthly e-newsletter, at WestEd.org/subscribe.