Kraft's research and teaching interests include the economics of education, education policy analysis, and applied quantitative methods for casual inference. His primary work focuses on efforts to improve educator and organizational effectiveness in K-12 urban public schools. He has published on topics including teacher coaching, teacher professional growth, teacher evaluation, teacher-parent communication, teacher layoffs, social and emotional skills, school working conditions, and extended learning time. His research has been featured in The Economist, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Education Week, The 74 Million, public radio, and several blog sites.
Exploits the random assignment of class rosters in the MET Project to estimate teacher effects on students' performance on complex open-ended tasks in math and reading, as well as their growth mindset, grit, and effort in class. Finds large teacher effects across this expanded set of outcomes, but weak relationships between these effects and performance measures used in current teacher evaluation systems including value-added to state standardized tests.
Proposes a new framework for interpreting effect sizes of education interventions, which consists of five broadly applicable guidelines and a detailed schema for interpreting effects from causal studies with standardized achievement outcomes. Provides scholars and research consumers with an empirically-based, practical approach for interpreting the policy importance of effect sizes from education interventions.
Reviews the empirical literature on teacher coaching and conducts meta-analyses to estimate the mean effect of coaching programs on teachers' instructional practice and students' academic achievement. Combines results across 60 studies that employ causal research designs. Finds sizable effects of 0.49 standard deviations (SD) on instruction and 0.18 SD on achievement.
Focuses on how Bush's and Obama's federal education reforms efforts have influenced the teaching profession. Reflects on how the successes and failures of these reforms provides important lessons about the potential and limitations of federal policy as a tool for improving the quality of the U.S. teacher workforce.
Shows that frequent, personalized outreach to parents works. Describes how schools can better support teacher-parent communication practices.
Revisits the findings of The New Teacher Project's The Widget Effect (2009) by compiling teacher performance ratings across 24 states that adopted major reforms to their teacher evaluation systems. Finds that in the vast majority of these states, the percentage of teachers rated Unsatisfactory remains less than 1%.