Angeline Spain

Senior Researcher

Dr. Angeline Spain is a Senior Researcher at Chapin Hall. Spain’s research focuses on knowledge use to improve the well-being of vulnerable children and their families. Broadly conceptualized, children do better when they have responsive, nurturing relationships with adults; these relationships help promote children’s healthy brain development and buffer stress associated with challenging circumstances. Because children’s health and development are intertwined, she centers her expertise on family engagement and initiatives to increase families’ initial access to and longer-term participation in interventions and services to support children’s health and school readiness. Her work aims to bolster the capacity of state and local agencies to build family and community assets on the way to resilience. A cornerstone of her approach is the use of rigorous and codesigned approaches that are rapid cycle and actionable by communities. She employs mixed methods to investigate these areas, leveraging expertise in comparative case studies, survey design, and continuous improvement methods.

At Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Spain conducts and collaborates on research in education, early childhood, and health care settings. Recent projects include: cross-systems alignment to elevate family assets during COVID-19; innovations in pediatric primary care to prevent and mitigate toxic stress for families with young children; a community-wide partnership to strengthen the kindergarten transitions of children and families; and an ambitious effort to transform local public library branches into community hubs in underserved urban neighborhoods. She also has contributed to research studies and technical assistance projects that investigate data systems and data use in diverse settings—including early childhood, afterschool, and cross-sector collaboration—to promote child and family health, safety, and resilience.

Before her current position at Chapin Hall, Spain was Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Education. There, she led and collaborated in work on the implementation of systems change efforts, seeking to understand how community capacity shaped the implementation of instructional, talent management, and school funding reforms. She also coled a curricular redesign that integrated the use of data and inquiry cycles throughout the coursework and clinical experiences of aspiring educational leaders. These experiences in education galvanized her research interests in opportunities to bridge the silos within and between our public systems, as well the importance of community context to systems change.

PhD in Education, specialization in Policy and Organizations Research, University of California at Berkeley

Master of Arts in Education, University of California at Berkeley

Spain, A., & Ehrlich, S. (2017, December). A community-wide effort to improve the pre-K to kindergarten transition for teachers, families, and children. Presented at the UChicago Consortium on School Research Steering Committee, Chicago, IL.

Spain, A., Axelrod, J., & Dasgupta, D. (2017, May). Strengthening kindergarten transitions. Presented at the City of Chicago Early Learning Research Symposium, Chicago, IL.

Spain, A. K., & Freeman, J. (2016, April). Instructional policy implementation through nested networks: The role of public intermediary organizations. Presented at annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.

Spain, A. K. & Woulfin, S. L. (2016, April). Past, present, and future of coupling as an organizational concept in schools. Presented at annual meeting of American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.

Axelrod, J., Spain, A., & Spielberger, J. (2016, September) Exploring the value propositions for creating and sustaining data systems. Presented at the Next Generation Afterschool System-Building Initiative Cross-Site Convening, Denver, CO.

Axelrod, J., Spain, A., & Spielberger, J. (2016, March) Weathering change: Building data systems to last. Presented at the Ready by 21 National Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland.

Spain, A. K. (In press). Just talk?: Discourses and deinstitutionalization in school district policymaking. American Journal of Education.

Turner, E. O., & Spain, A. K. (In press). The multiple meanings of (in)equity: Remaking school district tracking policy in an era of budget cuts and accountability. Urban Education.

Spain, A. K. (2016). Situating school district resource decision making in policy context. American Journal of Education, 122(2), 171-197.

Spain, A. K., & McMahon, K. (2016). More than just test scores: Leading for improvement with an alternative, community-driven accountability metric. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 19(2), 21-30.

Spain, A., & Rowan, B. (2014). Estimating the resource costs of designs for Michigan’s teacher evaluation system: Lessons from a pilot of educator effectiveness tools. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research and School of Education at the University of Michigan.

Rowan, B., Schilling, S. G., Spain, A., Bhandari, P., Berger, D., & Graves, J. (2013). Promoting high quality teacher evaluations in Michigan: Lessons from a pilot study of educator effectiveness tools. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research and School of Education at the University of Michigan.

Key Work

Key Work

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