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 the measurement of teaching and learning; the implementation and effectiveness of educational intervention, especially technology-based intervention to improve student learning outcomes; and the development of 21st century skills. Her expertise includes applying experimental and rigorous quasi-experimental methods in educational settings and quantitative analysis of large-scale, longitudinal educational data.

She is co-leading an IES-funded large-scale efficacy trial of a technology-based Algebra learning program in a large urban school district and a project to build a repository of hard-to-measure competencies. She is also leading quantitative analysis for several large-scale quasi-experimental studies on technology-based learning programs. Her prior projects included evaluations of teacher and principal pay-for-performance programs, math and science partnership programs, the implementation of new math curriculum, and 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

  • A Validation Study of the Instructional Culture Insight Survey
  • Measuring Classroom Coverage of Content and Practices in the New Generation of Mathematics and Science Standards
  • Efficacy of ALEKS for improving student algebra achievement
  • Testing the feasibility of building a repository of 21st century competency measures

Selected Publications

Yuan, K., "A value-added study of teacher spillover effects across four core subjects in middle schools," Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23(36), 2015

Yuan, K., Hamilton, L. S., & Stecher, B., Exploring the technical quality of teaching effectiveness scores from the Intensive Partnership sites, Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2015

Yuan, K., Stecher, B. M., & Hamilton, L. S., The feasibility of developing a repository of assessments of hard-to-measure competencies, Santa Monica, CA: RAND (RR-1204-WFHF), 2015

McCaffrey, D. F., Yuan, K., Savitsky, T., Lockwood, J. R., & Edelen, M. O., "Uncovering multivariate structure in classroom observations in the presence of rater errors.," Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 34(2):34-46, 2015

Yuan, K., & Le, V., Measuring deeper learning through cognitively demanding test items: Results from the analysis of six national and international exams., Santa Monica, CA: RAND (RR-483-WFHF), 2014

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., 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 (MG-1114-FPS), 2011

Honors & Awards

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