Sandra Mathison




Office: Scarfe Office Block 2502

My research focuses on educational evaluation, and especially on the potential and limits of evaluation to support democratic ideals and promote justice in education. I have long been concerned with the intended and unintended consequences of government mandated accountability on teachers, students and quality of education. Over my career, my research has lead to a deep commitment to public education, the right of all children to a high quality education that is broad in scope and inclusive of all learners.

I have conducted national large- and small-scale evaluations of K-12, post-secondary, and informal educational programs and curricula; published articles in the leading evaluation journals; and edited and authored a number of books.

Scholarly Interests:

Critical TheoryEvaluationEvaluation Theory and PracticeInterpretive and Critical Research MethodologiesProgram EvaluationQualitative Research MethodsResearch MethodologiesSociology of Assessment


Education Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Graduate Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984-85 , 1985

List of teachers ranked as excellent by students, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1983-85

Distinguished Service to the American Educational Research Association, Division D, 1990-91

Champions for Children Recognition Award, University of Louisville, 2001 , 2001

Critics Choice Book Award for Battleground Schools, AESA, 2010 , 2010

Community Engagement

Institute for Public Education/British Columbia: Dr. Mathison is one of several co-founders and a Fellow of IPE-BC, an Institute that supports public education to promote the common good for all British Columbians. IPE is primarily an information portal for media, teachers, parents and communities to make scholarly research and conversations about public education available in accessible ways.

Institute for Critical Education Studies: Dr. Mathison is co-founder and co-director of the Institute, with E. Wayne Ross and Stephen Petrina, and co-editor of one of the Institute’s flagship open access journals, Critical Education. The Institute for Critical Education Studies was formally established in October 2010 to support studies within a critical education tradition. ICES maintains a network that conducts and circulates cultural, educational, or social research and discourse that are critical in method, scope, tone, and content. Critical Education Week is a weekly online newspaper featuring stories about education from around the web and around the world.

Great Schools Project: Dr. Mathison was a key member of the GSP, which declared it’s role complete in 2015. The Great Schools Project was a collaboration among individuals interested in strengthening and protecting education in British Columbia. The GSP included committed educators, parents, researchers, and leaders, both inside and outside of the education system, working to  improve the current provincial accountability system. Many members of the GPS have affiliated with the newly formed Institute for Public Education.

Courses Taught

EPSE 591 Theory and Practice of Program Evaluation

EPSE 595 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods

EPSE 581 Phenomenology

EPSE 681 Narrative Analysis


University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, PhD, MA, Educational Psychology

University of Alberta, BA, Sociology (with distinction)

Research Projects

The Impact of High Stakes Testing: Clicking on the title will take you to a description of my research on the impact of high stakes testing on schools, teachers, and students. You will also find links to published work and conference presentations on this topic.

Selected Publication

Mathison, S. & Ross, E.W. (2022) Beyond education as usual: Public education in a post-Covid world. In D. Selwyn (Ed.) At the center of all possibilities: Transforming education for our children’s future. Peter Lang Publishers.

Mathison, S. & Ross, E. W. (2021). Critical education. In A. Masuria (Ed.) Encyclopaedia of Marxism and Education. Brill Publishers.

Mathison, S. (2020). The revolutionary possibility of the mundane. Journal Educazione Aperta (Open Education: Journal of Critical Pedagogy), No. 6, 146-156

Mathison, S. (2019). Resistance in the quotidian life: With special attention to daily life in schools. Cultural Logic: A Journal of Marxist Theory and Practice, Vol 23, 55 – 67.

Mathison, S. (2018) Does evaluation contribute to the public good? Evaluation, 24(1), 113–119.

Mathison, S. (2016). Confronting capitalism: Evaluation for social equity. In S. Donaldson & R. Picciotto (Eds.). Evaluation for an equitable society. Information Age Publishing.

Mathison, S. (2014). Research and evaluation: Intersections and divergence. In S. Brisolara, D. Seigart & S. SenGupta (eds.). Feminist evaluation and research: Theory and practice. Guildford Press.

Freeman, M. & Mathison, S. (2009). Researching Children’s Experiences. Guilford Press.

Mathison, S. & Ross, E.W. (Eds.) (2008). The Limits of Standards Based Reform and Testing. Teachers College Press.

Mathison, S. & Ross, E.W. (2007). Battleground Schools: An Encyclopedia of Controversial Issues in Education. New York: Greenwood Publishers. (2 volumes)

Mathison, S. (Ed.) (2004). Encyclopedia of Evaluation. Sage Publications.