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Sean Tanner

Sean Tanner, PhD, is a Senior Research Associate at WestEd. His research focuses on the impact of Pre–12 policies, such as accountability and school finance reform, and on educational and socioeconomic inequality, particularly for educationally disadvantaged students. Tanner has expertise in the economics of education, education policy, and methods of causal inference.

Tanner’s substantive research agenda focuses on the causes and consequences of inequality in children’s human capital and its relation to lifetime socioeconomic status, with a particular focus on education policy’s ability to intervene and shape this relationship. Current and recent projects include analyses of the impact of California’s school finance reform on achievement and attainment, the medium-term impact of public prekindergarten, and the impact of fiscal autonomy for schools on equity and efficiency.

Tanner’s methodological research focuses on causal inference in education and policy research, specifically the relative merits and weaknesses of field and natural experiments, statistical analysis, and meta-analytic methods to generate durable scientific and policy knowledge. Current and recent projects include a meta-analysis of multi-trial interventions and an analysis of machine learning algorithms’ power to predict attrition.

Tanner holds a PhD in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.