PERC seeks creative and cost-effective ways to conduct research and support its use in Philadelphia's education policy and practice. The Philadelphia area has a large pool of skilled researchers, and partnership is at the heart of our work. For this reason, PERC does not have a large dedicated staff of its own. Instead, we seek to develop collaborative projects with researchers based at education agencies, universities, nonprofits, and research firms.

PERC Leadership

Ruth Curran Neild became the Director of PERC in January 2017. Philadelphia public education has been the focus of almost her entire professional career, beginning with student teaching American history at Central High School. Later, as a researcher at Penn and Johns Hopkins, she worked closely with the School District of Philadelphia on a large-scale survey of students and parents and conducted studies of teacher recruitment and retention, high school choice, progress toward high school graduation, and labor market outcomes for Philadelphia graduates.

From 2011-2017, Dr. Neild served in senior leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, where she championed research of practical and scholarly value, clear and creative communication of research findings, and development of tools and strategies for supporting educators to access research and consider its implications for practice and policy. 


Dr. Neild serves on the board of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE). She holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.


PERC has begun a number of types of collaborations to produce relevant, timely, and readable research for and about Philadelphia public education. Some of these projects are still in the pipeline. These include:

  • Research on ninth grade on-track rates, conducted by researchers at Research for Action.

  • A study of ninth grade attendance patterns, with researchers from the School District of Philadelphia.

  • A scan of K-3 literacy practices in Philadelphia charter schools, jointly carried out with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), headquartered at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

  • A study of teacher mobility in the School District of Philadelphia, with Dr. Matthew Steinberg and graduate students from his applied research methods class at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

  • A study of commuting times for high school students, with Dr. Marc Stein of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education.

We are always looking for new collaborators who want to work in geniune partnership with education agencies to do research that makes a difference. If that's you, we want to hear from you!