Continuity of Operations planning information for the College of Education: Click here

Dr. Dana L. Mitra

Dr. Dana L. Mitra
Phone: 8148637020
Office Address:
302A Rackley Building
University Park, PA 16802
Campus: University Park


Professor of Education (Educational Theory & Policy)


Education Policy Studies


Center for the Study of Leadership and Ethics (CSLE)


Educational Theory and Policy
Comparative and International Education


Dana L. Mitra has conducted research on voice and leadership as a Professor of Education Policy Studies at the Pennsylvania State University for the past 15 years. In her work as a professor, she was named as a Students at the Center “Distinguished Fellow” with Jobs For the Future/the Nellie Mae Foundation in 2016. She is founding editor of the International Journal of Student Voice and Co-Editor of The American Journal of Education

Dana has published over 30 papers and two books on the topics of student voice and civic engagement. Her books include Civic Education in the Elementary Grades: Promoting Engagement in an Era of Accountability, Student Voice in School Reform: Building Youth-Adult Partnerships that Empower Youth, and a textbook entitled Educational Change and the Political Process . She also has published a memoir entitled French Fries and Banyan Trees: American Kids Explore Bangalore and Beyond.

Dana holds a Ph. D. from Stanford University in Educational Administration and Policy Analysis. She has served as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar in 2012 to study child participation and educational reform in Bangalore, India. Her prior work experience includes teaching elementary school in the Washington, DC area and serving as the coordinator for two White House Conferences on Character Education.

Areas of Expertise

Age Levels


Education Levels

Middle School/Junior High

Educational Studies

Educational Theory

Higher Education

Community Engagement

Individual Difference


Methodological Research

Policy Analysis
Qualitative Research

Organizational Management

Management & Leadership

Social Issues

Civic Engagement
Education Policy

Representative Publications

Mitra, D. (forthcoming) Student voice in secondary schools: The possibility for deeper change. Journal of Educational Administration.

Mitra, D. (2017). Educational change and the political process. A textbook of educational policy. Routledge Press.

Mitra, D. & McCormick, P. (2017). Ethical dilemmas of youth participatory action research in a democratic setting. International Journal of Inclusive Education: Special Issue on Researching Ethically with Children and Young People, 21, 3, 248-258.

Serrriere, S., Burroughs, M, & Mitra, D. (2017). Kindergartners and philosophical dialogue: Supporting child agency in the classroom. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 29, 4, 8-12.

Mayes, E., Mitra, D., & Serriere, S. (2016).  Figured worlds of citizenship: Examining differences made in ‘making a difference’ in an elementary school classroom. American Educational Research Journal, 53, 3, 605-638. DOI: 10.3102/0002831216648378

Mitra, D., Mann, B., & Hlavacik, M.  (2016). Opting out: Parents creating contested spaces to challenge standardized tests. Education Policy Analysis Archives. March.

Mitra, D., Bergmark, U. Brezicha, K., Kostenius, C., Maithreyi, R., & Serriere, S. (2016). Ironies of democracy: purposes of education and the construction of citizens in Sweden, India, and the United States.  Citizenship Teaching and Learning, 11, 2., 191-210. DOI: 10.1386/ctl.11.2.191_1

Mitra, D. & Serriere, S. (2015). Civic education in the elementary grades: Promoting engagement in an era of accountability. New York: Teachers College Press.

Biddle, C. & Mitra, D. (2015). Implementing middle school youth-adult partnerships: A study of two programs focused on social change. Middle Grades Review, 1, 2, Article 6.

Brezicha, K., Bergmark, U. & Mitra, D. (2015).  One Size Does Not Fit All: Differentiating Leadership to Intentionally Support Teachers in School Reform. Education Administration Quarterly, 51, 1, 96-132.

Kawai, R., Serriere, S., & Mitra, D. (2014). Contested Spaces of a “Failing” Elementary School. Theory and Research in Social Education, 42, 4, 486-515.

Mitra, D., Serriere, S., & Kirshner, B. (2014). Youth participation in U.S. contexts: Student voice without a national mandate. Children & Society, 28, 4, 292-304.

Mitra, D., Lewis, T., & Sanders, F. (2013).  Architects, Captains, and Dreamers: Creating Advisor Roles that Foster Youth-Adult Partnerships. Journal of Educational Change, 14, 2, 177-201.

Serriere, S., McGarry, L., Fuentes, D., & Mitra, D.  (2012). A new year a new take on celebrations.  Social Studies and the Learner, 9, 4, 6-10.

Mitra, D. L. & Halabi, S. (2012). Paradoxes in policy practice: Signaling post-secondary pathways in the Rust Belt. Teachers College Record, 114, 1, 1-34.

Mitra, D., & Serriere, S. (2012). Student voice in elementary-school reform: Examining youth development in fifth graders. American Educational Research Journal, 49, 743-774, doi:10.3102/0002831212443079

Mitra, D., Serriere, S, & Stoicovy, D. (2012). The role of leaders in enabling student voice. Management in Education, 26, 3, 104-112.

Serriere, S. & Mitra, D.  (2012). Student voice and youth development. In C. Day (Ed), Handbook on Teacher and School Development. New York: Sage.

Serriere, S. C., Mitra, D. L., & Reed, K. (2011). Student voice in the elementary years: Fostering youth-adult partnerships in elementary service-learning. Theory and Research in Social Education, 39, 4, 541-575.

Mitra, D. L. & Frick, W.F. (2011). Civic capacity in educational reform efforts: Finding agency in a time of globalization. Educational Policy, 25, 5, 810-843.

Serriere, S. C., Mitra, D. L. & Cody, J.  (2010). Youth citizens taking action: Better school lunches, and more. Social Studies and the Learner, November.

Mitra, D., Sanders, F., and Perkins, D. (2010). Providing spark and stability: The role of intermediary organizations in establishing school-based youth-adult partnerships. Applied Developmental Science, (14), 12, 1-18.

Mitra, D. L. & Gross, S. J. (2009). Increasing student voice in high school reform: Building partnerships, improving outcomes. Educational Management, Administration, and Leadership, 37, 4, 452-473.

Mitra, D. L. (2009). Collaborating with students: Building youth-adult partnerships in schools. American Journal of Education, 15, 3, 407-436.

Mitra, D. L. (2009). Student voice and student roles in education policy and policy reform. In D. N. Plank, G. Sykes & B. Schneider (Eds.), AERA Handbook on Education Policy Research (pp. 819-830). London: Routledge.

Mitra, D. L. (2009). Strengthening student voice initiatives in high schools: An examination of the supports needed for school-based youth-adult partnerships. Youth and Society 40, 3, 311-335.

Mitra, D. L. (2009). The role of intermediary organizations in sustaining student voice initiatives. Teachers College Record 111, 7, 1834-1868.

Syvertsen, A.K., Stout, M.D., Flanagan, C.A with Mitra, D. L., Oliver, M.B., Sundar, S. S. (2009). Using elections as teachable moments: A randomized evaluation of the Student Voices civic education program. American Journal of Education, 116, 1, 33-66.

Mitra, D. L. (2008). Student voice in school reform: Building youth-adult partnerships that strengthen schools and empower youth. Albany, NY, State University of New York Press.

Mitra, D. L., Frick, W. C., & Movit, Marcela A. (2008). Brain drain in the Rust Belt: Can educational reform help to build civic capacity in struggling communities? Educational Policy, 22, 731-757.

Mitra, D. L. (2008). Balancing power in communities of practice: An examination of increasing student voice through school-based youth-adult partnerships. Journal of Educational Change, 9, 3, 221-324.

Sanders, F., Movit, M., Mitra, D., & Perkins, D. F. (2007). Examining ways in which youth conferences can spell out gains in positive youth development. LEARNing Landscapes, 1, 1, 49-78.

Mitra, D. L. (2007). The role of administrators in enabling youth-adult partnerships in schools. NASSP Bulletin, 91, 3, 237-256.

Mitra, D. L. (2007). Student voice in school reform: From listening to leadership. In D. Thiessen & A. Cook-Sather (Eds.), International Handbook of Student Experience in Elementary and Secondary School. (pp. 727-744). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Mitra, D. L. (2006). Student voice or empowerment? Examining the role of school-based youth-adult partnerships as an avenue toward focusing on social justice.  International Electronic Journal for Leadership in Learning, 10, 22.

Mitra, D. L. (2006). Youth as a bridge between home and school: Comparing student voice and parent involvements as strategies for change. Education and Urban Society, 38(4), 455-480.

Mitra, D. L. (2006). Educational change on the inside and outside: The positioning of challengers. International Journal of Leadership Education, 9, 4, 315-328.

Mitra, D. L. (2005). Adults advising youth: Leading while getting out of the way. Educational Administration Quarterly, 41, 3, 520-553.

Mitra, D. L. (2004). The significance of students: Can increasing “student voice” in schools lead to gains in youth development. Teachers College Record, 106, 4, 651–688.

Mitra, D. L. (2003). Student voice in school reform: Reframing student-teacher relationships. McGill Journal of Education, 38, 2, 289–304.

McLaughlin, M., & D. L. Mitra. (2001). Theory-based change and change-based theory: Going deeper, going broader. Journal of Educational Change, 3, 1, 301–323.


Mitra, D. (in preparation). Secrets to a more successful partnership between students and teachers. In Brooks, J. Watson, T, & Hefferman, A. (Eds). The School Leadership Survival Guide: What to Do When Things Go Wrong, How to Learn from Mistakes, and Why You Should Prepare for the Worst. Information Age Publishing.

Mitra, D. (2018). The Six Secrets to More Successful Partnership Between Students and Teachers. Students at the Center, Jobs for the Future: Boston.

Mitra, D. & Pendola, A. (2017). Exploring student-centered learning in the ESSA State Plans. Jobs for the Future, Students at the Center Hub, Boston.

Mitra, D. (2017). Building jobs in the rust belt: the role of education. The Conversation, April 11.

Mitra, D. (2015). The intersection of student voice and policy research. In Conner, J. and Rosin, R. (Eds.) Student voice in American educational policy: A national society for the study of education yearbook.  NY: Teachers College Press.

Mitra, D. (2015) Forward in Brasof, M., Student voice and school governance: Distributing leadership to youth and adults. NY: Routledge.

Kawai, R., Serriere, S, & Mitra, D. (2014). Fostering civic efficacy and action through fifth graders’ civic ‘zines. In A. Libresco (Ed.), Exemplary Elementary Social Studies:  Case Studies in Practice (pp. 35-58). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Cook-Sather, A and Mitra, D. (2013). Linking across the links: Student voice works-in-progress. Connect: supporting student participation, 202, August, 11-16.  ISSN 2202-4980

Cook-Sather, A and Mitra, D. (2013). Linking across the links: Student voice works-in-progress. Connect: supporting student participation, 202, August, 11-16.  ISSN 2202-4980

Mitra, D. L. (2012). Increasing student voice in school reform: Building partnerships, improving outcomes. In Kelly, B. and Perkins, D. (Eds), Handbook of Implementation Science for Psychology in Education (pp. 361-372). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mitra, D.L.  & Kirshner, B. (2012).  Insiders versus outsiders—Examining variability in student voice initiatives and their consequences for school change. In B. McMahon & J. Portelli (Ed.), Student engagement in urban schools: Beyond neoliberal discourses (pp. 49-72).  Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing

Mitra, D.L., Frick W. C., & Crawford, E. (2011). The ethical dimensions of student voice activities in the United States. In G. Czerniawski & W. Kidd (Eds.) The Student Voice Handbook: Bridging the Academic/Practitioner Divide (pp. 369- 380). London: Emerald.

Serriere, S. & Mitra, D.  (2011). Student voice and youth development. In C. Day (Ed), Handbook on Teacher and School Development (pp. 223-232). New York: Sage.

Mitra, D. L. (2008). Making it ‘real’: The role of student voice in reforming classroom practice. Educational Leadership, 66, 3, 20-25.

Mitra, D. L. (2008). Student voice or empowerment? Examining the role of school-based youth-adult partnerships as an avenue toward focusing on social justice. In A. Normore (Ed.), Leadership for social justice: Promoting equity and excellence through inquiring and reflective practice (pp. 193-212). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Mitra, D. L. (2005). Increasing student voice and moving toward youth leadership.  The Prevention Researcher, 13, 1, 7–10.

Activities and Honors

‘Students at the Center’ Distinguished Fellow, Jobs for the Future/Nellie Mae Foundation, 2016-2018

White House Summit on Beating the Odds—Successful Strategies from Schools and Youth Agencies that Build Ladders of Opportunity. Invited participant. Washington, DC.  March, 2016.

Fulbright-Nehru Scholar, National Institute for Advanced Study, Bangalore, India, 2012.

Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education Grant, 2012-13. Collaboration with Lulea Tekninska Universitetet.

Penn State Multicultural Resource Center University Faculty Diversity Recognition Award, 2009