Kun Yuan

Photo of Kun Yuan
Behavioral Scientist
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D. in educational psychology, Stanford University; M.A. in psychometrics, Beijing Normal University; B.S. in psychology, Beijing Normal University


Kun Yuan is a behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. Her research focuses on educational measurement, program evaluation, teachers and teaching, pay-for-performance, and statistical modeling. She is currently working on projects to study the cognitive rigor of state achievement tests and nationally or internationally administered tests, such as NAEP, PISA, TIMSS, and PIRLS; to understand teaching quality; and to examine the spillover effects in teacher value-added modeling. Her prior projects included evaluations of teacher and principal pay-for-performance programs, of math and science partnership programs, of the implementation of new math curriculum, and of model schools that promote 21st century skills. Yuan's work has been published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Education Inquiry, Educational Research Review, and ACTA Psychologica SINICA. Yuan's lead-authored paper on teacher pay-for-performance published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis was one of the "Top 10 AERA Journal Articles of 2013." Yuan earned her Ph.D. in educational psychology from Stanford University.

Recent Projects

  • Evaluation of the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program in New York City
  • Evaluation of the Pittsburgh Principal Incentive Program
  • Math and Science Partnership Program Assessment and Evaluation Project
  • Understand Teaching Quality
  • Model School Network for Deeper Learning Research

Selected Publications

Yuan, K., Le, Vi-Nhuan, McCaffrey, D.F., Marsh, J., Hamilton, L., Stecher, B., & Springer, M.G., "Incentive Pay Programs Do Not Affect Teacher Motivation or Reported Practices: Results From Three Randomized Studies," Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 35(1):3-22, 2013

Hamilton, L. S., Engberg, J., Steiner, E. D., Nelson, C. A., & Yuan, K., Improving school leadership through support, evaluation, and incentives: The Pittsburgh Principal Incentive Program., Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2012

Hamilton, L. S., Stecher, B.M., & Yuan, K., "Standards-based reform in the United States: Lessons learned and future directions.," Education Inquiry, 3(2):149-170, 2012

Marsh, J. A., Springer, M. G., McCaffrey, D. F., Yuan, K., Epstein, S., Koppich, J., Kalra, N., DiMartino, C., & Peng, A., A big apple for educators: New York City's experiment with schoolwide performance bonuses., Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2011

Hamilton, L.S., Stecher, B.M., & Yuan, K., Standards-based reform in the United States: History, research, and future directions, Washington, DC: Center on Education Policy, 2009

Yuan, K., Shavelson, R. J., Alonzo, A. C., & Steedle, J. T.,, Strengthening mental muscles: Impact of computerized cognitive training on working memory, fluid intelligence, and science achievement., Saarbrücken, Germany: VDM Publishing House Ltd., 2009

Yuan, K., Steedle, J., Shavelson, R. J., Alonzo, A. C., & Oppezzo, M., "Working memory, fluid intelligence, and science learning," Educational Research Review, 1:83-98, 2006

Zhang, H. C., Feng, B. L., & Yuan, K., "Characteristics of vocational interest of Chinese high school students and the development of interest scale for their college entrance and career guidance.," ACTA Psychological SINICA, 36:89-95, 2004

Honors & Awards

  • Outstanding Policy Report, American Education Research Association, Division L Education Policy and Politics
  • RAND Merit Bonus Award, RAND