Rebecca Merrill

(she, her, hers)

Senior Researcher, Applied Research & Systems Improvement

As a researcher interested in addressing inequity, Becca sees education as the area with the most potential for impact: Evidence shows that improving teacher quality and the distribution of that quality can enhance access to excellent education. Teacher quality will improve when we attract and retain talented educators to the field, when teachers experience working conditions that create successful student learning conditions, and when teacher pay reflects the value we say we place on their work. Through research, we can identify and measure the conditions under which teachers and students thrive; document inequities; and target inequities by providing resources, innovating teacher preparation, equipping leaders with evidence, and monitoring progress.

Becca enjoys finding ways for quantitative and qualitative data to “talk” to and inform each other and engaging in challenging but impactful work alongside inspiring colleagues. She infuses equity and justice into her work, carefully identifying variables and giving heed to participants’ voices.

Becca entered education professionally through Teach for America. For three years, she taught English to students receiving special education services, co-taught math and English, augmented reading skills as a resource teacher, and managed individualized education programs. Later, Becca was a research assistant at the Education Policy Institute at Carolina and taught a course on the politics of U.S. education. As a doctoral student, she conducted a narrative synthesis of teacher working conditions and surveyed teachers in North Carolina on how to measure their working conditions. Becca is skilled at building statistical models that tease meaning from large data sets, analyzing survey patterns, conducting interviews and focus groups, and uncovering themes from participant responses. She has published in major education journals and for the Institute of Education Sciences.


  • Ph.D., Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • B.A., Religious Studies, North Carolina State University
  • B.A., Criminology, North Carolina State University
  • Associate Degree, Liberal Arts, Lenoir Community College

I'm inspired by...


The strangest thing in my refrigerator is...

Pickled asparagus, not my idea.

When not at work, you can find me...

Reading fiction or sitting outside, eyes closed, blissfully aware of sunshine.

Rebecca Merrill

Areas of Expertise

  • Teacher labor market (recruitment, hiring, retention, working conditions)
  • Mixed methods
  • Statistical methods for causal inference
  • Early learning