REL West Director
During over three decades with WestEd, Nikola (Nikki) Filby has directed research and development projects that have guided improvements in teaching and learning across the country.
Filby currently directs the Innovation Studies Program at WestEd, which aims to help educators learn about and implement promising ideas from research and practice. Products from these R&D projects include:
- Case studies of innovations in a series of 14 Innovation Guides produced for the Office of Innovation and Improvement in the U.S. Department of Education.
- Websites such as the School Turnaround Learning Community operated for the Office of School Turnaround and Doing What Works, both funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Online toolkits like one for Magnet School Assistance Program grantees on how to drive school reform through integration of a theme.
- Formative evaluation reports to guide rapid-cycle improvements in implementation of Common Core State Standards such as Core to College and Math in Common.
- Online courses for teachers and administrators for convenient and effective learning about research-based instructional practices and integration of technology.
- Policy and knowledge briefs to provide decision makers with distilled information about options and alternatives in critical areas of innovation.
Filby also directs the Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West), the federally funded contract to support four western states—Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah—and help educators increase use of data and evidence in decision making. In the current REL program, alliances of organizations that share an improvement goal partner with REL West for research and analytic assistance as they select or design new programs or strategies, implement and evaluate them, in cycles of continuous improvement. Alliances include state departments of education, districts, and schools in focus areas such as college and career readiness, meeting the needs of English learners, educator effectiveness, and improving school climate. As REL Director, Filby also knows and works with other RELs and system leaders.
A signature initiative directed by Filby is Doing What Works, which provides a bridge from research to action through multimedia communication of research-based practices. Based on Institute of Education Sciences practice guides, the DWW materials include video interviews with experts, examples of "practices in action" from schools across the country that are implementing these research-based practices in a variety of settings, and tools that educators can use for planning and include in professional development. DWW resources are now used by national associations like NAESP and NASSP, by states including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Montana, and by scores of universities, intermediate organizations, and school districts to support the implementation of research-based practices.
During three decades in educational R&D, Filby’s work has consistently spanned the boundaries between research and practice. Her research includes large-scale quantitative studies, evaluations of state and local programs, and case studies of innovative practices. Her publications range from articles in peer-reviewed journals and books to practitioner publications and guides with nationwide distribution. She has directed collaborative projects that bring educators together across organizational and state boundaries to learn with and from each other and support improvements in practice based on R&D. She has been a leader in interorganizational projects to develop R&D resources for educators across the nation.
Filby received a BA in psychology from Wellesley College and a PhD in educational psychology and learning from Stanford University.