Amber M. Northern

Research Fellow

Amber Northern was a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.  She is vice president for research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where she helps develop new research initiatives and manages Fordham's research studies. She has more fifteen years of experience in educational evaluation, education policy, and secondary education. She has published in the areas of educational accountability, standardized testing, teacher quality, and educational technology, among others.

Before joining Fordham, she was a senior study director at Westat, where she provided evaluation services for various federal, state, and local education agencies, as well as for educational foundations, textbook publishers, and professional development providers. She has experience directing and overseeing multiple and varied research studies (from small-scale studies to multimillion dollar projects); analyzing and reporting on such topics as performance-based pay for educators, reading instruction, mathematics and science education, and teacher quality; developing research instruments and protocols; assembling advisory panels and communicating with content experts and other scholars; and writing proposals, technical reports, and policy briefs.

Previously, Northern worked with the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, the Virginia Center for Educational Policy Studies, and the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia. Northern has researched and published in the areas of educational accountability, standardized testing, and school choice.

Northern holds a PhD in education policy and evaluation from the University of Virginia. She began her career as a high school classroom teacher.

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Recent Commentary


Education Governance: Different Schools Of Thought

by Amber M. Northern, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Anyone who has spent serious time within the U.S. public education system would likely agree that there are too many chefs in the school governance kitchen.

Analysis and Commentary

Sensible Responses To Insolvent School Districts

by Michael J. Petrilli, Amber M. Northernvia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, August 12, 2015

One of the most hotly debated issues in American education today revolves around low-performing schools and districts: how to define “low-performing,” what to do about them, and who gets to decide.

Analysis and Commentary

Pre-K And Charter Schools: Where State Policies Create Barriers To Collaboration

by Michael J. Petrilli, Amber M. Northernvia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

You don’t have to be a diehard liberal to believe that it’s nuts to wait until kids—especially poor kids—are five years old to start their formal education.

Analysis and Commentary

Redefining The School District In America

by Amber M. Northern, Michael J. Petrillivia Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Monday, June 22, 2015

Years into America’s quest to fix its failing schools, everyone agrees that it is extraordinarily hard work to turn them around. But that hasn’t stopped us from trying.

Analysis and Commentary

Can Gifted Education Survive The Common Core?

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Amber M. Northernvia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Friday, February 20, 2015

What does the Common Core portend for America’s high-achieving and gifted students? Quite a kerfuffle has erupted in many parts of the country, with boosters of these rigorous new standards declaring that they’re plenty sufficient to challenge the ablest pupils and boosters of gifted education fretting that this will be used as the latest excuse to do away with already-dwindling opportunities for such children.

Classroom students
Analysis and Commentary

Redefining the School District in Michigan

by Amber M. Northern, Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Last month, editors of The Youngstown Vindicator, one of Ohio’s most respected newspapers, made an unusual appeal on their op-ed page. They asked the state superintendent of public instruction, Richard Ross, to take over their local school system.

Right-sizing Our Classrooms

by Michael J. Petrilli, Amber M. Northernvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 21, 2014

A surprising experiment suggests students might benefit from bigger classes—but only if they have good teachers.