Fatih Unlu

Photo of Fatih Unlu
Senior Economist
Santa Monica Office


PhD in economics, Princeton University; MA in economics, Princeton University; BS in electrical engineering, Bilkent University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

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Fatih Unlu is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation and a research quality assurance manager of RAND Education and Labor. He has close to 15 years of experience designing and conducting rigorous evaluations of education programs and substantial expertise with randomized control trials and quasi-experimental research designs; management of data collection, cleaning, and analysis tasks; and preparation of reports for research sponsors and broader audiences.

His project portfolio includes evaluations of early college high schools, a mentoring intervention that aimed to improve student persistence in college, a coaching program that supports high school seniors in their transition to postsecondary institutions, an alternative teacher preparation program, a school leadership development program, an early reading curriculum, early math interventions, and extended learning time initiatives enacted in New York City and Massachusetts. His work has been supported by grants and contracts from Institute of Education Sciences, National Science Foundation, The Boston Foundation, Spencer Foundation, Arnold Foundation, and ExpandED Schools. 

Unlu has presented and written on a wide array of research methodology topics including assessing and improving the generalizability of impact estimates obtained with non-probability samples, conducting design replication studies to identify best practices for quasi-experimental designs, utilizing cross-site variation in experimental studies to estimate effects of mediators, and generating design parameters with existing datasets to guide designs of future evaluations. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness and is a certified What Works Clearinghouse reviewer. Unlu earned his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University.

Previous Positions

Principal Scientist, Abt Associates

Selected Publications

Unlu, F., Bozzi, L., Layzer, C., Smith, A., Price, C., and Hurtig, R. "Linking Implementation Fidelity to Outcomes in an RCT," in G. Roberts, S. Vaughn, N. Beretvas, and V. Wong, Treatment Fidelity in Studies of Educational Intervention, Rutledge, 2017

Unlu, F. "Civic Engagement and Education," in D.J. Brewer and L.O. Picus, Encyclopedia of Education Economics and Finance, SAGE, 2014

Porter, K., Reardon, S. F., Unlu, F., Bloom, H. S., and Robinson-Cimpian, J.P, "Estimating Causal Effects of Education Interventions Using a Two-Rating Regression Discontinuity Design: Lessons from a Simulation Study and an Application," Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10(1), 2017

Reardon, S.F., Unlu, F., Zhu, P., & Bloom, H., "Bias and Bias Correction in Multi-Site Instrumental Variables Analysis of Heterogeneous Mediator Effects," Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, 39(1), 2014

Edmunds, J., Bernstein, L., Unlu, F., Glennie, E., Willse, J., Smith, A., and Arshasvsky, N, "Expanding the Start of the College Pipeline: Ninth Grade Findings from an Experimental Study of the Impact of the Early College High School Model," Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 5(2), 2012

Olsen, R.B., Unlu, F., Jaciw, A.P., and Price, C., "Estimating the Impacts of Educational Interventions Using States Tests or Study-Administered Tests," National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education., 2011

Edmunds, J., Unlu, F., Glennie, E., Bernstein, L., Fesler, L., and Arshavsky, N., "Smoothing the Transition to Postsecondary Education: The Impact of the Early College Model," Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10(2), 2017

Gamse, B.C., Jacob, R.T., Horst, M., Boulay, B., and Unlu, F., "Reading First Impact Study Final Report (NCEE 2009-4038)," National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education., 2008