John F. Pane

Photo of John Pane
Senior Scientist
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D. in computer science, Carnegie Mellon University; M.S. in computer science, Carnegie Mellon University; B.S. in electrical and computer engineering and mathematics, Carnegie Mellon University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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John F. Pane is a senior scientist at the RAND Corporation. He researches the implementation and effectiveness of innovations in education, with a focus on personalized/competency-based learning, education technology, math, and science. His expertise includes the application of experimental and rigorous quasi-experimental methods. He led or co-led numerous experiments with randomization of individuals or schools, including a large-scale effectiveness trial of mathematics tutoring software in 147 schools in 51 school districts in seven states. Among several efficacy experiments, one examined the effects of summer learning programs in five urban school districts. He led the first large-scale evaluation of schoolwide personalized learning. His published methodological collaborations include work on principal stratification, analysis of data from partially-nested research designs, obtaining unbiased parameter estimates in experiments with noncompliance, and translating standardized effect sizes into more easily interpreted metrics. Other studies he has led include evaluations of rural projects using technology to increase college and career readiness; a math and science partnership; a one-to-one laptop initiative; data-driven decisionmaking practices; and effects of the 2005 hurricanes on Louisiana students. He codirected the Carnegie Mellon and RAND Traineeships in Methodology and Interdisciplinary Research (CMART), an IES postdoctoral training program. From 2015-2018 he held RAND's Distinguished Chair in Education Innovation. He sits on advisory boards of several non-profit education organizations. Major sponsors of his research have included the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. National Science Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wallace Foundation. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Previous Positions

Project Scientist, Carnegie Mellon University

Recent Projects

  • Experimental studies of the implementation and effects of technology-based mathematics curricula
  • Study of the implementation and outcomes of innovative personalized learning school models
  • Experimental evaluation of summer learning programs
  • Study of the implementation of data-driven decisionmaking practices in schools
  • Evaluation of a school district's one-to-one laptop computer initiative

Selected Publications

Matthew D. Baird and John F. Pane, "Translating Standardized Effects of Education Programs into More Interpretable Metrics," Educational Researcher, 48(4), 2019

John F. Pane, Strategies for Implementing Personalized Learning While Evidence and Resources Are Underdeveloped, RAND Corporation (PE-314), 2018

John F. Pane, Elizabeth D. Steiner, Matthew D. Baird, Laura S. Hamilton, and Joseph D. Pane, Informing Progress: Insights on Personalized Learning Implementation and Effects, RAND Corporation (RR-2042), 2017

John F. Pane, Beth Ann Griffin, Daniel F. McCaffrey, Rita Karam, "Effectiveness of Cognitive Tutor Algebra I at Scale," Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 36(2), 2014

John F. Pane, Daniel F. McCaffrey, Mary Ellen Slaughter, Jennifer L. Steele, and Gina S. Ikemoto, "An Experiment to Evaluate the Efficacy of Cognitive Tutor Geometry," Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 3(3), 2010

Augustine, C. H., McCombs, J. S., Pane, J. F., Schwartz, H. L., Schweig, J., McEachin, A., & Siler-Evans, K., Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth, RAND Corporation (RR-1557), 2016

John F. Pane, Daniel F. McCaffrey, Nidhi Kalra, Annie J. Zhou, "Effects of Student Displacement in Louisiana During the First Academic Year After the Hurricanes of 2005," Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 13(2-3), 2008

Julie A. Marsh, John F. Pane, Laura S. Hamilton, Making Sense of Data-Driven Decision Making: Evidence from Recent RAND Research, RAND Corporation (OP-170), 2006

Honors & Awards

  • Distinguished Chair in Education Innovation (2015-2018), RAND Education

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: The 74; Associated Press; The Atlantic; Baton Rouge Advocate; Bloomberg News; Chalkbeat; Christian Science Monitor; District Administration; EdSurge; Education Week; Fast Company; Financial Times; The Hechinger Report; KPCC Pasadena; Louisiana Radio Network; Mindshift by KQED San Francisco; New York Times; NPR Online; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Pittsburgh Quarterly; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; POLITICO; Sirius Satellite Radio; Southern California Public Radio

Commentary: Brookings Brown Center Chalkboard; Education Week; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; The RAND Blog


  • A girl doing schoolwork on a laptop computer, photo by ijeab/Getty Images

    Online Doesn't Have to Mean Impersonal

    Children's needs extend beyond the purely academic. It is important that their social and emotional well-being is supported as instruction moves online during the COVID-19 pandemic. A whole-child view of what students need could benefit them now more than ever.

    Apr 2, 2020 The 74 Million

  • Researchers looking at data, photo by GaudiLab/Getty Images

    Research Rigor Is Undermined by Translating Into Years of Learning

    The research field increasingly recognizes that we need metrics that everyone can understand. Translating the result into years of learning has become a popular approach, but this metric has major flaws. There are better options.

    Jul 5, 2019 Education Week

  • A teacher discussing a mathematics problem with her student

    What Emerging Research Says About the Promise of Personalized Learning

    Personalized learning could lead to improved student outcomes. But those implementing this approach should temper their expectations for how big these benefits will be—and be patient while the benefits emerge. It's also important to consider the challenges of implementation.

    Aug 16, 2017 Brookings Institution's Brown Center Chalkboard

  • A teacher helps a high school student work on a laptop

    Helping Pittsburgh Stay on the Cutting Edge of Education Innovation

    Local organizations, educators, and leaders are creating remarkable learning experiences for Pittsburgh's young people, and other cities around the country are striving to replicate their innovations.

    May 8, 2016 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • A teacher and student in a classroom looking at a laptop

    Technology Is Only Part of Personalized Learning

    The concept of personalized learning has gained favor in recent years, partly because new technology applications help to facilitate it. But those who characterize this instructional approach as

    Mar 4, 2016 The RAND Blog

  • Teacher helping a high school student on a computer

    Making Room for New Approaches: Recommendations for ESEA Reauthorization That Support Innovation

    As lawmakers consider the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it is critical that in meeting their objectives they do not create unnecessary obstacles to the productive innovations being explored at schools, such as personalized learning.

    Jan 27, 2015 The RAND Blog

  • hurricane

    Helping Displaced Students in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

    If Hurricane Sandy causes extensive disruptions in public schools—particularly in hard-hit New York City—our research shows that choices made by parents and policymakers could significantly limit the negative short-term effects of changing schools under such difficult circumstances, writes John Pane.

    Oct 31, 2012 The RAND Blog

  • When Students Disappear...

    Published commentary by RAND staff: When Students Disappear..., in Education Week.

    Feb 21, 2007 Education Week