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Senior Research Fellow in Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development, University of Minnesota

Kyla L. Wahlstrom, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development (OLPD) in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, where she has worked for the past 26 years. Most recently she was the Director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI). Dr. Wahlstrom received her Ph.D. degree in the area of educational policy development with a focus on school change. Prior to her appointment at the University of Minnesota in 1990, she had 19 years of school experience as an elementary classroom teacher, a special education teacher, a school principal, and a district administrator of special education.

She is the primary investigator of the original research on school start times begun in 1996. In 2010 she was awarded a federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to continue research on the outcomes for later school start times. Her 20-year study of the effect of the later start time on high school students has influenced school policies across the U.S., and has been featured in publications and media ranging from Congressional Quarterly and Rolling Stone Magazine to Scientific American, Newsweek, NPR’s All Things Considered and PBS’ Frontline. Dr. Wahlstrom is the recipient of the MASCD National Research Award for her ground-breaking study of the effects of later starting times for high schools.

Her other investigative work has also affected the lives of thousands children, such as researching the longitudinal outcomes for students in all-day kindergarten and examining the effects of elementary breakfast programs on learning. Dr. Wahlstrom was the primary investigator on Learning from Leadership, a six-year national research study (2004-2010) funded by The Wallace Foundation, which investigated the link between school leadership and student achievement. This is the largest study on this topic ever conducted. From 1993-2001, Dr. Wahlstrom was the lead American investigator on an international research project involving Russia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom focused on the issue of reform of Russian education and changing the instructional practices of classroom teachers in the former USSR.

Publications include one book, several book chapters, and numerous journal articles and technical monographs used by educational leaders to shape policy decisions across the US. As an adjunct faculty member, Dr. Wahlstrom teaches graduate classes on topics of educational change, research methods, and conceptions of leadership.


  • –present
    Senior Research Fellow, University of Minnesota