SREE Announces Winners of the 2020 Early Career Award

The Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 SREE Early Career Award, which recognizes early career scholars whose work has advanced rigorous research relevant to educational practice: Meghan McCormick from MDRC and Josh Polanin from the American Institutes for Research. McCormick and Polanin were selected from a competitive pool of candidates, all of whom are within seven years of receiving their postdoctoral degree.

Meghan McCormick completed her PhD in Applied Psychology with a concentration in quantitative analysis at New York University in 2015 and since then has been a Research Associate in the Families & Children Policy area at MDRC. McCormick’s scholarship to date has been motivated by the desire to understand and promote practices and policies that can help close income and race-based achievement gaps during the birth to third grade period, using rigorous methods. Much of her current research projects, including a Research-Practice Partnership with Boston Public Schools, aim to use causal methods to learn about how family- and school-based interventions are (or are not) effective in closing skills extant gaps between lower- and higher-income children. As summarized by her nomination letter writer:

Meghan, across all points of comparison, is a superstar… Meghan is thoroughly impressive as a researcher with potential to influence education policy, programs, and practice. She is an exceptionally bright and promising early career scholar who is well on her way to establishing a clear trajectory of bringing high-quality research to strengthening existing early childhood education and school systems and to improving the lives of young children, especially those at greatest risk.

Josh Polanin is Principal Researcher at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). He completed his PhD in Education Research Methodology at Loyola University Chicago in 2013 and has devoted his early career to improving the quality of research in education and shaping educational practices and policies. Polanin has made important contributions in systematic reviews and meta-analysis, including impactful work with the What Works Clearinghouse, primarily as Project Director for the Statistics, Website, and Training (SWAT) contract. His work addresses practical questions faced in meta-analysis and also applies rigorous methods to systematic reviews in education. As summarized by his nomination letter writer:

Josh’s work focuses on increasing the availability of research evidence to a wide audience through the use of systematic review and meta-analysis and through the WWC… In summary, Josh’s research on meta-analysis methods, his application of these methods to important educational issues, and his leadership as project director for the SWAT contract of the WWC are evidence of his commitment to the improvement of research that relates directly to practice. His work also demonstrates his collaborative skills, working with substantive researchers to increase the quality of the evidence available for educators.

 In recognition of their accomplishments, McCormick and Polanin will have the opportunity to organize a session for the Spring 2021 SREE Conference to be held March 3-7, 2021 at the Renaissance Arlington Capitol View Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

The Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness is a professional organization dedicated to advancing research relevant to practice, from early childhood through post-secondary education. The Society strives to generate knowledge and facilitate applications in new contexts and across fields. Its over six hundred members represent individuals from across the United States and around the world. To learn more about the organization or the early career award, visit