• Ph.D. 2007 – Vanderbilt University, Education Finance and Policy
  • B.A. 1998 – Denison University, Education and Psychology (with honors)

Areas of Expertise

  • Economics of Education
  • Public Policy
  • Causal Inference and Policy Analysis


Matthew G. Springer, Ph.D., is the Robena and Walter E. Hussman Jr. Distinguished Professor of Education Reform at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and chair of the Educational Policy and Organizational Leadership area. Springer is an interdisciplinary policy scholar who has spent more than two decades studying educational innovations and policies. He began his career as a high school administrator and teacher in upstate New York working in student support and teaching psychology, sociology, and environmental ethics courses. A combination of teaching and policy experiences led him to pursue Ph.D. work in education finance and policy at Vanderbilt University, where he resided for more than a decade on faculty.

Springer’s research broadly focuses on strategies for improving system effectiveness and access to educational opportunities. His research and technical assistance efforts have been supported by more than $60 million in extramural funding. His work has been featured on “ABC World News Tonight,” “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” CNN, and National Public Radio and in The New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. He has published over 40 articles in leading education and public policy journals, including the American Educational Research Journal, Economics of Education Review, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Researcher, Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, and Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. He has authored or edited seven books, including “Performance Incentives: Their Growing Impact on American K-12 Education” (Brookings), two editions of the “Handbook of Research on School Choice” (Taylor and Francis), and “Modern Education Finance and Policy” (Pearson Education).

Professor Springer consults widely with government agencies and international organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the National Governor’s Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the governments of the United Kingdom and Mexico, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Society for Research in Educational Effectiveness and on the editorial boards of the American Education Research Journal and Educational Researcher.


The foundation of Springer’s research aims to advance policymaking and practice by conducting large-scale studies in partnership with districts and states that produce actionable findings. Early in his career, he collaboratively designed, implemented, and led a unique state-level partnership between the State of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University (now called the Tennessee Education Research Alliance), for which he received Vanderbilt University’s Faculty Excellence Award for Research and Service to the Field. He is working with colleagues at Carolina on a similar endeavor – a multi-disciplinary initiative designed to evaluate and elevate high-leverage programs and policies critical to the state’s efforts to increase educational opportunity and economic development in North Carolina. This effort includes a research recovery network across 14 North Carolina institutions designed to address Covid-related disruptions to learning in P-16 education.