Decision Center for Educational Excellence Appoints New Director

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Helios Education Foundation and Arizona State University have selected Joe O’Reilly, Ph.D., as the director of the Decision Center for Educational Excellence powered by Helios Education Foundation. In this newly created role, Dr. O’Reilly will lead efforts to elevate the use of education research and data in Arizona.

“Dr. O’Reilly is one of Arizona’s foremost experts on education research and data,” said Vince Yanez, senior vice president, Arizona community engagement, Helios Education Foundation. “We are thrilled to have him lead the Decision Center for Educational Excellence and help utilize real-time data to inform educational policy and practice.”

The Decision Center for Educational Excellence is the product of a partnership between Helios Education Foundation and Arizona State University dedicated to addressing the challenges facing the state’s pre-K through post-secondary education system. The center is developing a first-of-its-kind computational model of Arizona’s education system, which will offer real-time feedback on how changes to policies, funding mechanisms and other interventions could affect the system as a whole.

The model will allow stakeholders to pinpoint bright spots in the state’s education system that may be scalable system-wide, and identify interventions that could serve to improve performance in underperforming schools. The model will offer Arizona’s education influencers – from school leaders to policymakers – the tools needed to make informed, data-driven decisions that support a high-quality education for all Arizona students.

“As I have described the center to others, the reaction has uniformly been that this approach is something that is desperately needed to advance Arizona’s education system, and the focus on evidence-informed discussions and collaborative decision-making among all education stakeholders will help the state make substantial improvements in student outcomes,” said Dr. O’Reilly.

Prior to taking the helm of the Decision Center for Educational Excellence, Dr. O’Reilly served as the executive director of student achievement support for Mesa Public Schools, Arizona’s largest school district.

“Joe’s expertise and leadership will help us facilitate evidence-driven decision-making and advance ASU's mission of serving our community,” said Luke Tate, ASU’s executive director of opportunity initiatives, the institutional home of the Decision Center for Educational Excellence.

Dr. O’Reilly has served on numerous state and national committees and work groups focused on the effective use of data to propel educational progress. At the state level, he has served on the state assessment Technical Advisory Committee, Arizona eLearning Task Force, Race to the Top Task Force, and chaired the No Child Left Behind/Title I Committee of Practitioners. At the national level, he has been vice president of the American Educational Research Association, president of the National Association of Test Directors and president of the Directors of Research & Evaluation. He has also served as a reviewer of state assessment programs and No Child Left Behind accountability plans for the U.S. Department of Education. His work has won awards from Division H of the American Educational Research Association.

The Decision Center for Educational Excellence is being funded by a three-year, $2.5 million grant from Helios Education Foundation.