Debra Pacchiano

Affiliated Researcher

Debra Pacchiano is Vice President of Practice Improvement at the Ounce of Prevention Fund. She is responsible for conceptualizing, designing, implementing, and evaluating applied research initiatives to advance teaching, learning, and instructional leadership in early childhood education. Debra recently directed a U.S. Department of Education, Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to design and test a professional learning model that develops instructional leadership and organizational supports essential to effective teaching and continuous improvement, including job-embedded professional learning routines. Pacchiano brings a range of experiences implementing and co-directing among multiple organizations and school districts complex local, state and federal initiatives. At the Ounce, Debra has directed various research initiatives including the Educare Chicago Implementation and Follow-Up Studies, and has co-designed the Educare Learning Network Training and Implementation Assistance System. Prior to the Ounce, she was a Regional Project Director on an Illinois State Board of Education statewide initiative on three-tiered models of prevention and intervention for kindergarten through middle school settings; was a Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC where she worked on the redesign and national deployment of the Office of Head Start’s Program Review and Monitoring System; and was a Special Education Administrator in a large, urban public school system overseeing implementation of special education regulations and a state capacity building grant in the area of alternative service delivery models. She has published in both peer-reviewed scientific journals and practitioner-focused journals and authored content about research-program partnerships and teacher leadership. Debra achieved a PhD from Indiana University in Educational Psychology and a BA from the University of Minnesota in Psychology and Policy.

Pacchiano is co-principal investigator with researchers at the UChicago Consortium to bring the 5Essentials framework of organizational supports to early education by developing, testing, and validating surveys for teachers and families of preschool-age students. Ultimately, the Five Essentials-Early Ed will provide reliable and valid survey data that will a) provide early childhood leaders and staff with actionable information to focus quality improvement efforts on strengthening supports essential to teaching and learning; b) transform how quality improvement is defined, promoted, and researched in the early education field; and c) provide a common lens, language, and metric to support the alignment of essential organizational supports across the educational continuum.