Dr. Kirksey’s scholarship is broadly focused on issues at the nexus of education and other areas of public policy, which includes student absenteeism and truancy, inclusion and special education, immigration and education, and the workforce.
His work stresses a holistic approach to policymaking by drawing attention to knowledge gaps in how changes made in and outside of schools interact with dynamic educational contexts. The goal of his research is to foster data-driven decision making in local, state, and federal policy to forge win-win public policies that bolster educational and economic outcomes for historically marginalized populations. To evaluate programs and policies, Dr. Kirksey employs quasi-experimental techniques using datasets from school districts, government agencies, and large-scale surveys. He has published extensively on topics related to student absenteeism and truancy, inclusion and special education, the ripple effects of immigration enforcement, and teacher labor markets. Dr. Kirksey has received over $1.4 million in external funding as Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator to support his research. His research has been highlighted in several popular media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Politico, Education Week, The Hechinger Report, and Chalkbeat.