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David Lapp

Director of Policy Research

Pronouns: He/Him


  • J.D. from Beasley School of Law: Temple University
  • B.A. in History & Secondary Education: Goshen College

About David Lapp

David Lapp serves as RFA’s Director of Policy Research where he oversees a range of projects at the nexus of education research and policy. He leads RFA’s Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research (PACER) project to inform state education policy discussions through objective research and analysis. He also provides oversight direction to RFA’s ACER project (Allegheny County Education Research), a local education policy research project. Lapp recently oversaw creation of RFA’s Educational Opportunity Dashboard, a tool to examine disparities in access to 14 indicators by race and income from the Civil Rights Data Collection.

Before joining RFA in 2016, Lapp was a staff attorney at the Education Law Center – PA, where he litigated cases and conducted policy research on a wide variety of legal issues related to public education, including school funding, student discipline, race and disability discrimination, student enrollment, and charter school law. At ELC, David also helped districts and charter schools revise their Student Codes of Conduct to minimize reliance on exclusionary discipline. He also helped create, train, and advise the Student Discipline Advocacy Service, a law student collaborative that provides assistance to students facing expulsion and disciplinary transfers in Philadelphia public schools. Lapp recently taught education law at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. He received his JD from Temple Law School, which awarded him the post-graduate Conwell Community Corps Fellowship. Prior to practicing law, Lapp taught high school social studies for nine years in two Philadelphia charter schools.

  • I can't stop talking about...

    The Process.

  • A cause I'm passionate about...

    Equitable access to educational opportunity (in schools and out of schools).

Key Projects by David Lapp

Allegheny County Education Research (ACER) Project

Read More K-12

Examining the Status of Non-Traditional Child Care in Pennsylvania

Read More Early Childhood Education

Examining Cross-Sector Collaboration in Pittsburgh: A Mixed-Delivery System for Pre-K Education

Read More Early Childhood Education

Examining Child Care Funding and Finance in Pennsylvania

Read More Early Childhood Education

Examining Credit Transfer from Juvenile Justice Facilities to the School District of Philadelphia

Read More K-12

Renaissance Schools in Philadelphia: Examining Early Implementation of a Turnaround School Model

Read More K-12

The Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research (PACER): Translating Research and Analysis for Education Policymakers

Read More

Career and Technical Training in Juvenile Justice Facilities: Increasing the Capacity of a Statewide Network to Make Evidence-Based Decisions

Read More K-12
See all author projects

Recent Publications by David Lapp


The Need for More Teachers of Color

This booklet, The Need for More Teachers of Color, was released as part of a Teach-In hosted by Research for Action on April 23, 2022, in FDR Park in Philadelphia. The booklet provides highlights of…


FAQ: Superintendents in Pennsylvania School Districts

Superintendent leadership plays an important role in charting the trajectory of school district operations and ultimately of student learning. Meanwhile, several school districts undergo a superintendent transition each year, yet relatively little is known about…


Special Education Funding in Pennsylvania Charter Schools

For many years, policymakers, researchers, and education stakeholders in Pennsylvania have been examining and debating the Commonwealth’s system of funding special education in charter schools. Despite all this attention, there remains significant confusion about how…


School Police Presence in Allegheny County

In recent years, some school districts across Allegheny County have made noteworthy changes to school policing. While some districts have sought to reduce or eliminate reliance on police, a growing number of other districts in…


Teacher Diversity in Pennsylvania from 2013-14 to 2019-20

As RFA documented in Patching the Leaky Pipeline, teachers of color (TOCs) are important for all students and particularly for students of color (SOCs). Yet, despite promising statewide initiatives to improve teacher diversity, there is…


Responses to Covid-19 School Closures

In March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic caused schools to close for the remainder of the school year, all Pennsylvania school districts and charter schools were required to “make good faith efforts to implement continuity of…


Allegheny County Students in Foster Care

Students in foster care require additional supports from schools in order to maintain educational stability. And, in the time of COVID-19 school shutdowns, experts warn that vulnerable students such as those in foster care may…


Equity-Focused Charter School Authorizing Toolkit

Providing high-quality and equitable learning opportunities should be a primary goal of all schools and school systems. Charter schools comprise the most steadily growing sector of Pennsylvania’s public education system, now home to over 160…


Making It Work: Bibliography and Technical Appendix

A bibliography and suggestions for further reading, as well as the technical appendix to accompany Making It Work: Examining the Status of Non-Traditional Child Care in Pennsylvania.


Making It Work: Examining the Status of Non-Traditional Child Care in Pennsylvania

As the number of jobs that require non-traditional work schedules (evenings, weekends, and overnight) increases, families’ need for child care during non-traditional hours has also grown. An estimated more than 150,000 Pennsylvania families with young…


New Data on Teacher Diversity in Pennsylvania

RFA’s most recent analysis of Pennsylvania’s teacher diversity data is available in the following publication: Teacher Diversity in Pennsylvania from 2013-14 to 2019-20 Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Education provided new data for 2016-17 that…


School Performance Profiles: Still Not the Sum of a School’s Parts

Since 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has annually published School Performance Profiles (SPPs), which assign a summative academic performance score for every traditional public and charter school in Pennsylvania by rating each school…


Philadelphia Community Schools Progress Report

Philadelphia’s Community Schools initiative was launched in 2016. The effort pairs a full-time coordinator with each school and its community to pinpoint needed services and coordinate their delivery via city agencies and non-profits. Research shows…


Case Study: Seton Center

Efforts underway to expand access to high-quality child care and pre-K programs in Pennsyl­vania are aimed at improving school readiness for low-income children and mitigating the wide achievement gaps plaguing them in the later grades.…


Charter School Special Education Funding in Pennsylvania

For many years there have been calls to reform how Pennsylvania funds special education both for school districts and charter schools. While some modest changes were recently legislated, they applied exclusively to new state special…


Comments Regarding the Civil Rights Data Collection

Comments on behalf of Research for Action, a Philadelphia-based, nonprofit education research organization, regarding the Civil Rights Data Collection from the U.S. Department of Education.
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