Deb Merle brings significant experience in educational leadership, including serving as Executive Director of the California State Board of Education and, most recently as Interim Executive Director of the Washington State Board of Education. Prior to that, as education policy advisor to three governors, Deb contributed to increasing educational opportunities and improving outcomes for traditionally underrepresented students. She worked extensively on the development and implementation of the state’s free college program (College Bound) which pays tuition for low-income graduates of Washington high schools.
During her public sector career, Deb also held senior positions at the Washington State School Directors’ Association and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. In these roles she coordinated legislative advocacy, managed messaging and communications, and maintained relationships with large partnership networks in complex systems.
Deb began her career as Senior Researcher for the Superintendent of Public Instruction where she identified key characteristics of middle schools in Washington with high-performing, low-income students, and showed that educational outcomes for English language learners are significantly better when students are taught academic content in their first language while they are becoming proficient in English.
Deb earned her B.A. in Political Science and her M.A. in Educational Psychology, both from the University of Washington. As a graduate student at UC Berkeley and Teachers College, Deb’s research focused on urban high school reform, impacts of personalization on student engagement, achievement and post-secondary outcomes, and the role of school segregation in the multigenerational transmission of educational disadvantage.