Profile: Chris Torres
Chris Torres is an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership in the University of Michigan’s Marsal Family School of Education. He is a qualitative researcher interested in how leadership and policy can stabilize and strengthen school improvement efforts and teaching as a profession. Prior to joining the University of Michigan Chris was a professor of Educational Leadership at Michigan State University and Montclair State University, and he worked in New York City as a K-2 teacher, grade chair, teacher mentor, mentor teacher trainer, teacher educator, school board chair, and in the central office designing teacher hiring and leadership development systems.
He studies how educational leaders, district governance, and policy influence teacher supply/retention and school improvement efforts in low-income and minoritized communities. His core work is broadly focused on understanding how differences in context influence teacher supply, recruitment, and retention. Specifically, he is interested in understanding how differences in individual (e.g., new teacher vs. experienced teachers), external (e.g., variations in teacher compensation), and organizational (e.g., charter schools vs. traditional public schools) contexts may uniquely influence teachers’ career decisions and working conditions in schools.
For example, his early work focused on understanding the context of urban “no-excuses” Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) and how the organizational climate in these schools influence high teacher turnover. Although supporters often claim that the organizational climate of these CMOs help them improve opportunities and outcomes for marginalized children of color, Torres uses qualitative and mixed method approaches to complicate this narrative, drawing attention to some of the costs and consequences of their practices. His work highlights the causes and implications of high teacher turnover and harsh disciplinary methods in no-excuses charter schools, including how these issues impact teachers, communities, families, and students. His work on no-excuses schools has been mentioned or profiled in over 20 different venues, including the Washington Post, Education Week, Chalkbeat, Christian Science Monitor, and newspapers in Los Angeles, Michigan, Puerto Rico, Georgia, New Jersey, and New York.
Torres’ current research projects focus on school turnaround policy implementation, educator workforce shortages, and deepening our understanding of how differences in context shape new teacher turnover. He is especially interested in studying the influence of school leaders on teacher turnover, focusing on new methodological approaches to deepen our understanding of these problems and developing context-specific practical recommendations to address them.
Torres is a former Associate Director for the University Council of Educational Administration (UCEA). He also serves as an associate editor for Educational Administration Quarterly (EAQ) and has experience as an editorial board member of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA), Urban Education, Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA), and the Journal of School Choice. He served as Program Chair for AERA Division A (Section 1) and the Charter and School Choice SIG and was the secretary for the Politics of Education Association (PEA) SIG from 2019-2021. He received the Outstanding Reviewer Award in 2019 and 2020 from Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA) and is a recipient of AERA Division L’s Outstanding Policy Report (2021). He holds a BA in Psychology from Yale University, an MA in Early Childhood Education from Mercy College, and a PhD in Teaching and Learning from New York University (NYU).