Research Associate

Condliffe is a mixed-methods researcher who leads projects in MDRCs K-12 Education policy area and its Center for Applied Behavioral Science (CABS). Since joining MDRC in 2014, Condliffe’s research has primarily focused on student behavior and social-emotional learning in elementary schools, as well as issues related to students’ and parents’ experiences with school-selection processes. Condliffe is the deputy project director for the Institute for Education Sciences (IES) Impact Evaluation of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Behavior. Condliffe oversaw the recruitment and data-collection efforts for this large-scale, school-level randomized controlled trial, and is leading the implementation analysis and reporting. With CABS, Condliffe’s work focuses on understanding barriers that students and parents face when interacting with school systems and on identifying ways to improve those systems to promote positive outcomes for students. She currently serves as project director for the Improving Engagement in Elementary School Selection project, a collaboration with the New York City Department of Education to design and evaluate interventions to support families through the kindergarten application process. She is also a co-principal investigator for MDRC’s partnership with the City University of New York to study the malleable factors that facilitate or impede community college students’ progress toward bachelor’s degrees.

Before her career in education research, Condliffe taught middle school and high school English in New York City. She received her PhD in sociology from Johns Hopkins University, where she was also an IES Predoctoral Training Fellow, and she holds a BA from Bowdoin College and a MA in teaching from Brooklyn College.

  • MDRC Publications


      Engagement in New York City’s Kindergarten Application

      March, 2019

      Parents applying to kindergarten today must follow multiple steps. Identifying families who do not apply can help a school system improve its application process and can help it target families who need support. MDRC partnered with the New York City Department of Education to conduct this sort of diagnosis.


      Challenges and Opportunities in Summer Programs for Rising Kindergarten Students

      May, 2018
      Barbara Condliffe, Anna Foster, Robin Tepper Jacob

      One focus of the Expanding Children’s Early Learning (ExCEL) Network is the potential value of programs to promote school readiness in the months preceding kindergarten. This brief summarizes lessons learned from a six-week pilot program and consultation with practitioners on three implementation issues — recruitment, attendance, and family involvement.

      Working Paper

      A Literature Review

      October, 2017
      Barbara Condliffe, Janet Quint, Mary Visher, Michael Bangser, Sonia Drohojowska, Larissa Saco, Elizabeth Nelson

      Examining the scholarly literature published since a seminal review in 2000, this working paper discusses the principles that underlie project-based learning, how it has been used in K-12 settings, the challenges teachers have confronted in implementing it, and what is known about its effectiveness in improving students’ learning outcomes.


      Building a School Choice Architecture

      June, 2017

      As school choice systems expand, district enrollment offices are striving to make the choice process accessible and clear for families. This practitioner brief offers lessons for supporting families through the sequence of decisions involved as they engage in the process, search for information, and compare and select schools.

      Issue Focus
      April, 2017

      School choice systems can be complex and confusing for low-income families. In the search for solutions, researchers and policymakers may have overlooked lessons from other policy arenas. This issue focus suggests strategies from MDRC’s experience designing and evaluating interventions to support low-income people’s decision making in arenas outside P-12 choice systems.

  • Other Publications

      Alexander, Karl, and Barbara Falk Condliffe. 2016. "Summer Setback in Baltimore: A Review and Update." Pages 23-34  in Karl Alexander, Sarah Pitcock, and Matthew Boulay (eds.), The Summer Slide: What We Know and Can Do About Summer Learning Loss. New York: Teachers College Press.

      Condliffe, Barbara. 2016. “Selecting Summer: How Elementary School Parents Make Choices About Summer Programs.” Pages 146-160 in Karl Alexander, Sarah Pitcock, and Matthew Boulay (eds.), The Summer Slide: What We Know and Can Do About Summer Learning Loss. New York: Teachers College Press.

      Condliffe, Barbara F., Melody L. Boyd, and Stefanie DeLuca. 2015. "Stuck in School: How Social Context Shapes School Choice for Inner-City Students." Teachers College Record 117, 3: 1-36.

      Plank, Stephen B., and Barbara Falk Condliffe. 2013. "Pressures of the Season: An Examination of Classroom Quality and High-Stakes Accountability." American Educational Research Journal 50, 5: 1152-1182.

  • Projects