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Reader in Educational Improvement, Institute of Education, UCL

Melanie Ehren is a reader, and Programme director of the MA in Evaluation, Inspection and Educational Improvement at the Institute of Education (University College London).

Her research focuses on the effects and side effects of accountability systems and particularly school inspections and high stakes testing. Her research started with a PhD on effects of school inspections. In this research she used novel techniques such as a policy theory evaluation to reconstruct the assumptions on effects of school inspections. Her paper on ‘The Relationship between School Inspections, School Characteristics and School Improvement, co-authored by Adrie Visscher, was placed on the 2010 highest cited article list of the British Journal of Educational Studies. Melanie Ehren has studied the effectiveness of accountability systems and external evaluations on school improvement in many different countries and contexts. She was part of the OECD expert team reviewing the Evaluation and Assessment in Education in Luxembourg; she studied the effects of different types of accountability measures (e.g. quality reviews) in New York City and Boston as part of a visiting scholarship at Columbia and Harvard University (sponsored by the Spencer foundation). She wrote an expert opinion on ‘Educational performance standards and external’ testing for the Austrian National Education Report of 2012, received the Austrian ‘excellent researcher stipend’ to teach at the University of Linz in June 2012 and was contracted by UNICEF to review the inspection system in Zanzibar/Tanzania.
She currently coordinates a three-year research project on the impact of school inspections on school improvement in six European countries (financed by the European Committee Life Long learning) and coordinates the Special Interest Group on ‘Educational Evaluation, Accountability and School Improvement’ of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) with professor Maag Merki. As a program leader of the MA on Inspection and Regulation, she teachers school inspectors in England and overseas.


  • –present
    Senior lecturer, London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of Education, University of London