Carlos Azcoitia, Ed.D., is the founding principal of a new “Comprehensive Community School” concept in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. John Spry Community School and Community Links High School is the first school in Chicago to include a pre-kindergarten through high school program in one building, with the goal of 100 percent high school completion and 100 percent postsecondary graduation. Students complete high school in three years, including summers and Saturdays. All high school students are required to participate in college bridge programs for dual credit. As a community school, it offers extended learning opportunities and leadership development for students, teachers, parents, and community members. The school has experienced substantial achievement growth. Previously, Dr. Azcoitia served as the deputy chief education officer of the Chicago Public Schools, where he had administrative responsibility for a large number of wide-ranging departments, programs, and services. He has been a teacher and an administrator and has served as a principal in the Chicago Public Schools. He has a long history of being in the forefront of educational reform. He also has served as an adjunct professor in several universities. Currently, Dr, Azcoitia is an assistant professor in educational leadership at National Louis University. He has been a mentor and coach for new and aspiring principals. He also is chairperson of Friends of Spry/Community Links High School, with the primary goal of providing financial assistance for postsecondary education. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at Northeastern Illinois University and the Coalition of Community Schools in Washington, D.C. He also is a board member of the Chicago High School for the Arts. Dr. Azcoitia is the author of several published articles about school reform. Topics include community schools, innovative school models, dropout prevention, peer tutoring, service learning, and postsecondary education. Dr. Azcoitia earned his doctorate in educational administration from Northern Illinois University.
Mike Feinberg is the co-founder of the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Foundation and the superintendent of KIPP Houston, which includes 18 public charter schools: nine middle schools, seven primary schools, and two high schools. Prior to the founding of KIPP, Feinberg joined Teach for America and taught fifth grade in Houston. In 1994, he co-founded KIPP with Dave Levin and established KIPP Houston a year later. In 2000, he co-founded the KIPP Foundation to help take KIPP to scale. Today, KIPP is a network of 99 high-performing public schools around the nation serving 24,000 children. In 2004, Feinberg was named an Ashoka Fellow, awarded to leading social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions and the potential to change patterns across society. In 2006, Feinberg and Levin were awarded the Thomas B. Fordham Prize for Excellence in Education and the National Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen. In 2008, they were named to the list of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report and received the Presidential Citizens Medal in the Oval Office of the White House. In 2009, they were the recipients of the Charles Bronfman Prize as well as the Manhattan Institute’s William E. Simon prize for Lifetime Achievement in Social Entrepreneurship. Feinberg and Levin’s efforts became the story told by The Washington Post reporter Jay Mathews in his book Work Hard. Be Nice. KIPP has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 Minutes, and ABC World News Tonight and in The New York Times, The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post, and more. Feinberg holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master of education from National Louis University. In 2010, Yale University awarded Feinberg an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Carl E. Harris, Ed.D., was appointed deputy assistant secretary for policy and state technical assistance of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education in January 2010. Prior to his appointment, Harris was superintendent of Durham Public Schools, where he provided leadership for 53 schools and nearly 33,000 students in the North Carolina district. During his tenure as superintendent, he focused on advancing academic achievement, fostering relationships with parents, businesses, and the community, and improving school leadership. Dr. Harris previously served the district as deputy superintendent and as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. Dr. Harris also served as superintendent of the Franklin County, North Carolina, public school system, where he was instrumental in bringing about significant increases in student achievement for all ethnic groups. Dr. Harris has received numerous awards and distinctions for his contributions to education, including the Central Carolina Regional Superintendent of the Year award, the National Association for Gifted Children Educator Award, and the Franklin County Living Black Legend Award. In 2008, he received the University Council for Educational Administration Educational Leadership Award, becoming one of 33 educators recognized nationally and the only educator in the state of North Carolina to receive the honor. He is a graduate of the inaugural 2002 class of The Broad Superintendent’s Academy, an executive training program that prepares prominent leaders for positions within urban school districts. In addition to his roles as classroom teacher, coach, and district office administrator, Dr. Harris has served on the leadership teams of various professional organizations, including the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Steering Committee for Advanced Certification for School Administrators, the Central Carolina Regional Education Services Alliance, and the North Carolina School Technology Commission. He is a past president of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators. He holds a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Southwest State University and a master’s degree in education, a master of administration, and an education specialist degree in administration and supervision from East Carolina University. Dr. Harris earned his doctorate in education administration from North Carolina State University, where he also has served as adjunct professor.
Sabrina Laine, Ph.D., is a vice president in the Education, Human Development, and the Workforce program at American Institutes for Research. She manages the National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and is a principal investigator for the Center for Educator Compensation Reform. Dr. Laine has a diverse background in educational policy research and has spearheaded efforts to contribute to policy research and resource development related to every aspect of managing and supporting educator talent, including recruitment, compensation, evaluation, distribution, and professional development. She is skilled in working closely and effectively with local, state, regional, and federal education agencies and leads a team of more than 20 researchers and policy analysts who are focused on the challenges faced by educators in urban, rural, and low-performing schools. Dr. Laine has worked for the past several years to ensure that policies and programs are in place that enable all children to have access to highly qualified teachers and leaders. She is the primary author of the new book Improving Teacher Quality: A Guide for Education Leaders, published by Jossey-Bass in 2011, and is a frequent presenter in states and districts across the country on topics ranging from ensuring teacher effectiveness to equitable teacher distribution. Dr. Laine earned her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Indiana University.
Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D., plays a pivotal role in policy and management issues affecting elementary and secondary education. She directs, coordinates, and recommends policy for programs designed to assist state and local education agencies with improving the achievement of elementary and secondary school students. She helps ensure equal access to services for all children, particularly children who are economically disadvantaged. She fosters educational improvement at the state and local levels and provides financial assistance to local education agencies whose local revenues are affected by federal activities. She also serves as the principal advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education on all matters related to pre-K, elementary, and secondary education. Previously, Dr. Meléndez de Santa Ana served as the superintendent of the Pomona (California) Unified School District, a diverse district serving 31,000 students, three quarters of whom were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and 44 percent of whom were English language learners. During her tenure, she was directly responsible for the three highest increases in the Academic Proficiency Index (API) in the district’s history as well as the second highest gain in the API for all California school districts. In 2009, her success as an education leader was recognized by the American Association of School Administrators, which voted her California Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Meléndez de Santa Ana earned her doctorate, specializing in language, literacy, and learning, from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Alexa Posny, Ph.D., is the assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services at the U.S. Department of Education. She plays a pivotal role in policy and management issues affecting special education and rehabilitative services. She directs, coordinates, and recommends policy for programs designed to assist state and local education agencies with improving the achievement of students with disabilities ages birth through 21, as well as adults transitioning from secondary school to higher education, employment, or both. She also serves as the principal advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Education on all matters related to special education for individuals in pre-K, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools. Prior to arriving at the Education Department, Dr. Posny served as the commissioner of education for the Kansas State Department of Education, where she was responsible for helping more than 450,000 students meet or exceed high academic standards, licensing more than 45,000 teachers, and overseeing a state education budget of more than $4.5 billion. Prior to becoming the commissioner in Kansas, Dr. Posny served as the director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), where she focused on providing leadership and fiscal resources to assist state and local efforts to effectively educate children and youths with disabilities in order to improve results for those children and on ensuring equal protection of the law. Prior to joining OSEP, Dr. Posny served as the deputy commissioner of education at the Kansas State Department of Education, where she was responsible for the overall operation of the Division of Learning Services. Previously, she served as the state director of special education at the Kansas State Department of Education. In addition, she served as the director of special education for the Shawnee Mission School District in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. In prior years, she served on the board of directors for the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Council for Learning Disabilities and chaired the National Assessment Governing Board’s Special Education Task Force. Dr. Posny also has been a teacher at the elementary, middle, high school, and university levels. In 2005, Dr. Posny received the Kansas High School Activities Association Governor’s Award. In 2004, she was named Administrator of the Year by the Kansas Association of Educational Office Professionals, and, in 2001, she received the Outstanding Contributor Award for the state of Kansas from the Council for Exceptional Children. Dr. Posny holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point and a master’s degree in behavioral disabilities from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She earned her doctorate in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she also minored in special education.
Susan Szachowicz, Ed.D., has been at Brockton High School, a large (4,300 student) comprehensive urban high school, for her entire career and describes herself as Brockton High’s greatest cheerleader. Originally a history teacher, she was the Social Science Department head for many years and then became a housemaster. In 1999, she was appointed the associate principal for curriculum and instruction and, in that capacity, directed the school’s literacy initiatives to improve student achievement. Dr. Szachowicz became Brockton High’s principal in 2004 and continues to be committed to educational reform at the school and in the state. She has served on numerous state commissions on education reform, particularly regarding the Massachusetts assessment program. As principal, Dr. Szachowicz has been committed to “high expectations, high standards—no excuses.” Under her leadership, Brockton High has received state and national awards for student achievement as a National Model School, Secondary School Showcase, National School Change Award, a Bronze Medal from U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best High Schools, featured on Need to Know on PBS, on the CBS Evening News, and in The New York Times. Dr. Szachowicz holds a bachelor’s degree in history and sociology and a master’s degree in history from Bridgewater State College, and she earned her doctorate in educational leadership and administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Elaine Allensworth, Ph.D., is the senior director and chief research officer at the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. She is known for her research on early indicators of high school graduation, college readiness, and the transition from middle to high school. Dr. Allensworth is one of the authors of the book Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, which provides a detailed analysis of school practices and community conditions that promote school improvement. Her current work includes studies of high school curriculum, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, and middle grade predictors of college readiness, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Allensworth, a former high school Spanish and science teacher, holds a master’s degree in urban studies and a doctorate in sociology from Michigan State University.
Diane August, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist affiliated with the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C. Her area of expertise is the development of literacy in second-language learners. At the Center for Applied Linguistics, she is the principal investigator for a large federally funded study investigating the development of literacy in English language learners, and she is co-principal investigator at the National Research and Development Center on English Language Learners. She was staff director for the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth project. She has been a senior program officer at the National Academy of Sciences, where she was study director for the Committee on Developing a Research Agenda on the Education of Limited English Proficient and Bilingual Students. Dr. August has worked as a teacher, school administrator, legislative assistant, grants officer for the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and director of education for the Children’s Defense Fund. She has published widely in journals and books. Dr. August earned her doctorate in education from Stanford University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in psychology, also at Stanford University.
Paul V. Bredeson, Ph.D., is a professor of educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Previously, he was a professor at Pennsylvania State University and served as the executive director of the Pennsylvania School Study Council from 1985–1991. Dr. Bredeson also served three years as a professor of educational leadership at Ohio University. Prior to entering higher education, Dr. Bredeson was a high school principal and high school Spanish teacher. Throughout the past 20 years, Dr. Bredeson’s research has centered on alternative conceptions of leadership, especially in regard to school principals. Grounded in his professional work experiences, his scholarship is located at the critical nexus of organizational leadership, capacity building, and professional learning. The body of his work examines the role of school leaders in the design, delivery, and assessment of outcomes of professional development that builds organizational capacity that enhances student learning and equity in schools. Dr. Bredeson received the Jack A. Culbertson Award for outstanding contributions to the field of educational leadership and policy studies. He serves on the editorial boards for several scholarly journals and remains active in professional associations nationally and internationally. Dr. Bredeson holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Northern Illinois University, and he earned his master’s degree in Spanish and his doctorate in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Donna Brown is the section chief of the Federal Program Monitoring Section at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, where she is responsible for and oversees 15 federal programs and initiatives, including the School Improvement Grants (SIG). Brown has spent 29 years in state government, serving the public schools of North Carolina. She received the Leadership Award from the National Association of Federal Education Program Administrators. Brown holds an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a master of education from Appalachian State University.
Melissa Brown-Sims is a researcher in the Education, Human Development, and the Workforce (EHDW) program at American Institutes for Research. As a member of the EHDW team, she is the project manager of two multiyear Transition to Teaching evaluations with the Chicago Public Schools. She leads and/or contributes to the writing of evaluation reports and literature reviews and development of tools and resources such as the Quality School Leadership Identification process pertaining to teacher and educator quality (e.g., school and district leadership) issues. She also contributes to the design, development, and administration of data collection protocols such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups and to the analysis of the data. Previously, Brown-Sims was a graduate student and teacher’s assistant for the Neighborhood Schools Program in Chicago, where she supervised a classroom of 32 students. Brown-Sims taught mathematics, writing, and science and facilitated student projects, assignments, and presentations. She earned a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago.
Tricia Browne-Ferrigno, Ph.D., is an associate professor of educational leadership studies at the University of Kentucky. She directed two rural-based leadership development programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education: Principals Excellence Program, for principals and administrator-credentialed teachers, and Team Development for Instructional Leadership in Restructuring High Schools, for principals, teachers, students, and parents. She served as senior researcher on the recently conducted Wallace Foundation evaluation study Districts Developing Leaders: Lessons on Consumer Actions and Program Approaches from Eight Urban Districts. Dr. Browne-Ferrigno is past chair of two American Educational Research Association Special Interest Groups (Leadership for School Improvement, Learning and Teaching in Educational Leadership) and a founding member of the Learning and Teaching in Educational Leadership Special Interest Group Taskforce on Evaluating Leadership Preparation Programs. She holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary mathematics education from Florida State University, a master’s degree in special education/gifted from the University of South Florida, and a doctorate in educational leadership and innovation from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Joanne Cashman, Ed.D., is the director of the IDEA Partnership, an innovative strategy funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) to bring national organizations, including those representing decision makers, practitioners, and consumers, into an alliance that works at the intersection of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. For 27 years, before coming to Washington, D.C., Cashman worked in local schools and with state agencies as a general education teacher, special education teacher, local director of special education, local director of dropout prevention and alternative education, building principal, state consultant, and leader at the local, state, and national levels in professional organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and special education from Bloomsburg University. She received a master’s degree in special and vocational education from Temple University and certification as an elementary and secondary principal from Bucknell University. Cashman earned a doctorate in special education from The George Washington University.
Dale Chu joined the Indiana Department of Education soon after Indiana State Superintendent Tony Bennett, Ed.D., took office in 2009. Chu is closely involved in all aspects of the Department’s reform goals and initiatives. An expert in education policy, Chu is active in guiding the state’s approach to accountability, teacher and leader quality, and school turnaround. Chu began his career in education as a teacher in San Benito, Texas, located in the Rio Grande Valley along the U.S.–Mexico border. During his second year of teaching, Chu was recognized as the district’s teacher of the year. He later became the founding principal at a high-performing urban charter school in Connecticut. In three years, Chu took the school from a 26 percent to a 96 percent pass rate on the state test. The school was recently recognized for achieving the highest African American student performance scores in the state. Chu holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree in administration and policy analysis from Stanford University.
Victoria (Tori) Cirks is a technical assistance consultant in the Education, Human Development, and the Workforce (EHDW) program at American Institutes for Research. She works primarily with the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center as the project lead to manage and facilitate technical assistance to the Ohio Department of Education related to its high school innovation efforts. In addition, she is the project lead providing technical assistance to the Indiana Department of Education’s Division of College and Career Preparation, is the co-project lead supporting Ohio’s rollout of the Common Core State Standards, and works on a variety of projects related to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act initiatives. She also is a member of a project team working on high school improvement, including transitions to and from high school, that supports state and district work on high school improvement for the Great Lakes East and the Great Lakes West Comprehensive Centers. Through the regional comprehensive centers, Cirks also has been involved in providing technical assistance focused on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to Midwest states. Cirks has worked with The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement on response to intervention and has been involved in the data collection and co-interpretation phases of a curriculum audit of New York City schools. In addition, Cirks has a strong policy background from her work with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Office of the Legislative Counsel. Cirks also has worked in conflict resolution education with elementary school students and their parents. She earned a master’s degree in peace and conflict resolution from American University.
Matt Clifford, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Dr. Clifford has more than 10 years of experience as a researcher, evaluator, and policy consultant on issues pertaining to school leadership and school principal quality. He currently manages multiple research and evaluation projects for AIR, totaling $1.5 million. Evaluation projects include large-scale, mixed-methods evaluations of turnaround principal professional development programs in Florida and Mississippi and three evaluations of school districts’ alternative certification programs. His research focuses on documentation and improvement of school leadership practice, and he has published extensively on distributed leadership practice. Currently, he is developing and validating a school leadership formative assessment for the U.S. Department of Education and is conducting a multi-case study on how leaders acquire and use research in policymaking for the William T. Grant Foundation.
Carol L. Conklin-Spillane has been the principal of Sleepy Hollow High School in New York since 1994. Sleepy Hollow High School serves a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse community 20 miles north of New York City. Conklin-Spillane has been recognized nationally for her achievements in developing school programs and practices that lead to high graduation rates. She has presented for the National Association of Secondary School Principals on School Based Practices That Support Success for English Language Learners and for the College Board on Making the Case for Open Enrollment in Advanced Placement Classes. Under her leadership, in 2008 Sleepy Hollow High School was identified as A Best Practices High School by the Magellan Foundation—one of three New York State high schools featured as model schools whose practices and outcomes align with research on high school reform and achievement. Conklin-Spillane and her staff at Sleepy Hollow High School also are featured on the U.S. Department of Education’s Doing What Works website. She recently received the Pace University Partnership Award in recognition of her work to enhance the professional development of current and future teachers. Prior to her tenure in the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns, she was an assistant high school principal and junior high school principal, and a special education teacher. Conklin-Spillane holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Marymount College, a master’s degree in special education from Fordham University, and a professional diploma in administration and supervision from Fordham University.
Louis (Lou) Danielson, Ph.D., a national leader in the field of special education, has been involved in programs that improve results for students with disabilities for more than three decades. He brings an unparalleled and unique depth of knowledge in both special education policy and research to his current position as a managing director with the American Institutes for Research (AIR). His career spans several roles in education, including teaching secondary school science and mathematics, serving as a school psychologist, and teaching at the university level. Prior to joining AIR, Dr. Danielson held leadership roles in the U. S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs and was responsible for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act national activities programs. He has served in numerous research and policy roles and has been involved in major school reform activities. At AIR, Dr. Danielson leads research and development work related to the assessment of students with disabilities and serves as a senior advisor to the National Center on Response to Intervention. He also leads an initiative of the National High School Center on tiered interventions. A frequent contributor to professional journals, Dr. Danielson has published extensively in the literature and is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and events focusing on special education. His particular areas of interest include policy implementation and evaluation and scaling up of evidence-based practices. Dr. Danielson earned a doctorate in educational psychology from Pennsylvania State University.
Greg Darnieder is the special assistant to the secretary for College Access at the U.S. Department of Education. From the mid-nineties until recently, he had acted as president for the Center for Impact Research and treasurer of The Albert Pick, Jr. Fund. Darnieder was the founding executive director of the LaSalle St. Community Youth Creative Learning Experience (CYCLE), an afterschool and summer youth academic and career exploration program for kindergarten through college-aged students in the Cabrini Green Public Housing Development. While serving as CYCLE’s executive director, he created numerous scholarship programs providing financial support for more than 225 students. In 1992, he was named executive director for the Chicago Cluster Initiative, where he coordinated a multi-agency public/private response to the academic achievement needs of students from four neighborhood high schools. In 1994, he became the executive director of the Steans Family Foundation, where he designed and implemented a comprehensive initiative in the North Lawndale community in partnership with numerous community-based organizations. He leveraged governmental, philanthropic, and business resources to improve and/or develop educational programs, affordable housing, economic development, health and human services, and youth development and employment goals and oversaw the organizational capacity-building strategies of more than 50 nonprofit agencies. Darnieder was responsible for the establishment of the Department of Postsecondary Education and Student Development and for designing and implementing an assortment of postsecondary, academic, financial, and social support programs. These duties included enhancing the Chicago Public Schools’ infrastructure around postsecondary education and establishing supportive services at every Chicago Public Schools high school. In addition, he was responsible for building university, corporate, and civic partnerships to enhance college access. As such, he was named the director of the Department of College and Career Preparation with the Chicago Public Schools, a newly formed department that consists of the Department of Postsecondary Education and Student Development and the Department of Education to Careers. Darnieder began his career in education as a junior high school teacher. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a K–8 teaching certificate from St. Louis University, and a master’s degree in Christian education from Wheaton College.
Matt Dawson, Ph.D., is a managing research director in the Education, Human Development, and the Workforce (EHDW) program at American Institutes for Research. He provides strategic guidance and management oversight for numerous large-scale research projects and serves as director of the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest. Working with state chief school officers, state legislators, state education agency staff, district and school staff, and other education stakeholders, Dr. Dawson develops a research agenda that answers critical questions regarding the PK–20 education system. Dr. Dawson earned a doctorate in human development and family science from The Ohio State University.
Ana Diaz-Booz is the principal of the School of International Business (SIB) at the Kearny High School Complex in San Diego, California. Together with her instructional leadership team, teachers, and students, Diaz-Booz has helped SIB earn distinction as a California Distinguished School and in the areas of Title I achievement and “Fast-Track” junior college dual enrollment. In her school’s short six-year history, SIB students have outperformed area high school students on statewide assessments in all English language learner (ELL) subgroups and have elevated the school’s academic performance index each year to its current score, which is above the state’s goal. As a first-generation bilingual student from a Spanish-speaking household, Diaz-Booz possesses a unique understanding of the struggles of ELL students in our public schools and the importance of rigor and high expectations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a teaching credential from the University of California, San Diego. After serving as a mathematics teacher in the San Diego Unified School District, Diaz-Booz earned her master’s degree and administrative services credential from the University of San Diego. She has served as a school administrator for the district since 2000.
Dawn Dolby is a senior consultant for school turnaround at American Institutes for Research. Dolby has nearly 25 years of educational experience as a teacher, professional development trainer, and school improvement specialist. In her work with district and school improvement, she provided technical assistance for states and districts in need of improvement, worked with district teams to improve their educator talent through mentoring and induction practices, facilitated data interpretation sessions with teachers and leaders, and designed professional development in a variety of areas, including curriculum, examining student work, and technology integration. She also led the mathematics team for work with the New York State Education Department to conduct audits of the written, taught, and tested curriculum in multiple districts. Dolby’s current work is focused on supporting secondary schools in Missouri, Michigan, and Illinois in turnaround strategy design and implementation. Her position also requires management of staff, projects, and budgets. Dolby has worked with schools and districts in more than 25 states and has successfully supported numerous schools in comprehensive reform efforts leading to improved student achievement and corrective action status. Throughout her years in education, she has taught and provided professional development and technical assistance in urban, rural, and suburban schools. Dolby earned her master’s degree in instruction and curriculum from the University of Colorado–Boulder.
Helen Duffy, Ph.D., is a senior research analyst at the American Institutes for Research. She has extensive experience providing technical assistance and designing and preparing large-scale evaluations in the areas of high school and district reform, writing instruction, and teacher education. She serves as a technical assistance liaison and content expert in adolescent literacy and high school tiered intervention frameworks for the National High School Center. She also leads the documentation of the Fresno-Long Beach District Learning Partnership, a project of the California Collaborative on District Reform. She has nearly 20 years of experience in K–12 settings as a teacher, school coach, and teacher educator in urban schools and brings her knowledge of those complex settings to her technical assistance and research. She is author or co-author of numerous publications, including briefs for the National High School Center, briefs focusing on instruction in early college high schools and the Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership, as well as a chapter in the forthcoming book High Schools for a Complex World. Dr. Duffy earned her doctorate in education, language, literacy, and culture from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California–Berkeley.
Lucille Eber, Ed.D., is the state director of the Illinois Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Network, sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education. This network coordinates technical assistance and evaluation related to schoolwide PBIS in more than 1,400 Illinois schools and includes implementation of wraparound and interagency initiatives for students with complex emotional and behavioral challenges. As a collaborative partner with the U.S. Department of Education’s National PBIS Center, Dr. Eber also facilitates PBIS implementation and training plans for states and school districts across the country. Dr. Eber is a former board member of the Illinois Federation of Families, the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, and the Association for Positive Behavior Supports. She regularly publishes articles and chapters on wraparound, interagency systems of care, and schoolwide positive behavior supports.
Jenni Fetters is a research and policy associate at American Institutes for Research in Chicago, where she works on educator quality and performance management. Fetters has a strong background in qualitative and quantitative research methods in the social sciences. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Calvin College and is completing her doctorate in comparative politics with an area focus on South Africa at Michigan State University.
Bradford Findell, Ph.D., has been the mathematics initiatives administrator at the Ohio Department of Education since 2007. He was a member of the Mathematics Work Team for the Common Core State Standards and serves as president of the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics. He came to Ohio from the University of Georgia, where he was on the faculty in mathematics education. During his time at the University of Georgia, he became deeply involved in drafting, revising, elaborating, and implementing the Georgia Performance Standards in mathematics. Before joining the faculty at Georgia, he was a staff member at the National Research Council, working on various mathematics education projects, including Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics, a synthesis of the research literature on the teaching and learning of mathematics in Grades K–8. He has taught mathematics courses and lessons in Grades 1–20, focusing mostly on high school and undergraduate mathematics and on the preparation and professional development of teachers. Dr. Findell earned his doctorate in mathematics education from the University of New Hampshire.
Todd Flaherty, Ed.D., is president and chief executive officer (CEO) of The College Crusade of Rhode Island, a college-readiness and scholarship program for middle school and high school students in low-income urban school districts. He joined The College Crusade as part-time interim president and CEO after serving as deputy in residence for the Council of Chief State School Officers, where he worked on secondary school transformation at both the national and state levels. Previously, as Deputy Commissioner of Education in Rhode Island, Dr. Flaherty played a vital role in implementing Rhode Island’s systemic school reform initiatives outlined in the state’s Comprehensive Education Strategy (CES). Working with his state education agency teams, he was part of leading and supporting a new set of statewide standards and online K–12 curriculum standards, new large-scale assessments through the New England Common Assessment Program, formulating and implementing a set of high school restructuring regulations, and building a Highly Qualified Leaders program and website. Dr. Flaherty also has done substantial work in designing and implementing Rhode Island’s accountability system, known as Progressive Support and Intervention (PS&I), primarily with urban districts. He has broad experience as a school administrator and served as president of the Rhode Island School Superintendents Association. He was principal of two award winning high schools and has been a visiting associate professor at Brown University, focusing on educational leadership in urban and diverse settings. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and earned his doctorate from Boston University.
Ami Flammini is a licensed clinical social worker who has been working in education since 1994. She is a technical assistance director for the Illinois PBIS Network, with a focus on high schools as well as secondary and tertiary interventions. Previously, she was a school social worker for a special education cooperative, a Tier 2 and Tier 3 external coach for a large unit school district, a therapist in private practice, and a technical assistance coordinator for the Illinois PBIS Network.
Alyssa Ford-Heywood is a 10-year employee with the Pittsburgh Public Schools. She serves as the project manager for the Pittsburgh Principal Incentive Program. In her role as the project’s primary liaison, Ford-Heywood is responsible for coordinating the district’s various systems in order to support the components related to principal evaluation and compensation for the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Her career in education spans more than 15 years and includes work in early childhood development, postsecondary preparation, and parent advocacy. Ford-Heywood has demonstrated a commitment to understanding the complex issues of education and demonstrates through her work the importance of impacting all learners in order to positively effect educational change. In addition to working to improve education quality for others, Ford-Heywood has continued to advance her own learning. She is exploring topics related to principal leadership and its impact on changing school culture in a way that increases student achievement and is completing her doctorate at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Heather Foster is the policy and outreach advisor at the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education. Foster organizes outreach to faith-based and secular community organizations, engaging them in various policies and initiatives from the Department of Education. She focuses on engaging community groups for best practices around family engagement and providing positive examples of partnerships with schools across the country. She has participated in several panels and conferences across the country, speaking on the impact of powerful partnerships between faith-based and community organizations and school systems. Prior to joining the Department of Education, Foster coordinated faith outreach for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, traveling throughout the United States to organize faith and community leaders’ efforts to support the campaign. Prior to her campaign work, Foster worked for two major law firms in the Chicago area, specializing in management and intellectual property. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and social policy from Northwestern University.
Zach Foughty has been the secondary mathematics consultant for the Indiana Department of Education since February 2010. His work focuses on assisting teachers in understanding and in the transition to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as well as updating current Indiana education code to reflect the level of rigor expected in the CCSS. Prior to joining the Indiana Department of Education, he co-founded Caye Caulker High School in Caye Caulker, Belize, where he taught and developed curriculum for the school’s mathematics, science, and Spanish courses. Previously, he taught high school mathematics in Donna, Texas, as a Teach for America Rio Grande Valley corps member.
Donald Fraynd, Ph.D. In 2008, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (then the chief executive officer at Chicago Public Schools) asked Donald Fraynd to participate in a bold strategy for dealing with the city’s lowest performing schools, known as turnaround. Now at the helm of the Office of School Improvement at Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Dr. Fraynd is charged with transforming chronically underperforming schools into high-performing schools by implementing federal school intervention models. His tenure at CPS began in 2003 as the principal of Jones College Prep, one of the city’s selective enrollment schools. Jones College Prep was recognized among the nation’s top 100 high schools by U.S. News & World Report and became the first Chicago high school to win the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Schools Award. Dr. Fraynd began his career in a volunteer teaching program. He worked for six years as a teacher and administrator at a Jesuit college preparatory school. He continues to serve on the Consortium on Chicago School Research Committee. He has held numerous positions in civic and committee work. The organizations include Illinois Safe School Alliance, CPS Districtwide Advisory Committee on Student Information System Integration, Targeted Recruitment and Support Steering Committee, Driving Dramatic School Improvement Steering Committee, and various committees founded at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Dr. Fraynd holds degrees in biology and theology from Creighton University, and he earned his doctorate in program and instructional leadership with a distributive minor in diversity and leadership from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Lindsay Fryer is a research associate at the American Institutes for Research, where she works with the National High School Center and the Regional Educational Laboratory-Northeast & Islands (REL-NEI). For REL-NEI, she coordinates and conducts data collection and coding, contributes to analyses, and assists in writing reports for two large-scale randomized field trials that evaluate a literacy software program and an online distance learning Algebra I course. She is a co-author of the recently released report Impact of the Thinking Reader Software Program on Grade 6 Reading Vocabulary, Comprehension, Strategies, and Motivation. With the National High School Center, Fryer is a content leader on the early warning system team, which helps high schools, districts, and states use the National High School Center’s Early Warning System (EWS) Tool v2.0 to identify students at risk of high school dropout. She helped develop and author the tool, an implementation guide, and a technical manual. She has given multiple conference presentations to school, district, and state leaders on implementing the EWS Tool v2.0. Fryer also helped produce and has presented on another National High School Center product, a school and district online self-assessment tool used to identify areas for high school improvement. She holds a master of education in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Libia Gil, Ph.D., joined the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to continue her work as the former chief academic officer for New American Schools. In this capacity, Dr. Gil provides senior counsel on school improvement initiatives, with particular attention to English language learners (ELLs) and bridging research with practice evidence. Dr. Gil began her teaching career in the Los Angeles Unified School District and has taught in English as a second language and bilingual education programs. She also has held numerous leadership positions, including school principal, area administrator, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and superintendent. For the past five years, Dr. Gil led the High School Redesign project in the San Diego Unified School District on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in an initiative to transform and accelerate student achievement in persistently low-performing high schools. More than one third of the students served were identified as ELLs, and multiple strategies to enhance student readiness for college and career pursuits were implemented. Dr. Gil received the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education and the Leadership in Biliteracy Award in 2002 and the Leadership Vision Award in 2003. She is recognized for her work in redesigning central office roles and functions to serve and support teaching and learning in the classrooms. She is currently leading the AIR ELL Center to focus on the needs of English language learners by strengthening the connections between knowledge, practice, and policy development. Dr. Gil was a Title VII fellow and earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on bilingual and multicultural education from the University of Washington.
Braden Goetz manages the high school programs administered by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education. These programs include the Advanced Placement Incentive program, the Advanced Placement Test Fee program, the Smaller Learning Communities program, the High School Graduation Initiative program, and the Striving Readers Adolescent Literacy program. Prior to joining the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Goetz served as the director of policy and research for the Education Department’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education, directed public policy for the American Counseling Association, and worked for 12 years for the U.S. House of Representatives on federal education legislation, including the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Elizabeth Grant, Ph.D., serves as a special assistant in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Her responsibilities include leading efforts on secondary school initiatives and coordinating support for states and districts in implementing School Improvement Grants in secondary schools. Prior to this role, Dr. Grant worked as Jobs for the Future’s senior policy analyst for federal policy and national advocacy in Washington, D.C. She helped advance policies to improve and expand education pathways for America’s large number of struggling students, out-of-school youth, and youth underrepresented in postsecondary education. She also has worked as education policy council for U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), developing legislation to build education pathways for youth to 21st century careers. Dr. Grant has more than a dozen years of experience in schools serving as an elementary school principal and junior high and high school teacher. She is a graduate of the University of Utah and received a master of education in teaching from Harvard University. Dr. Grant earned her master’s degree in sociology and doctorate in education policy from Stanford University.
Julia Gwynne, Ph.D., is a senior research analyst at the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. Her research includes work on student mobility, school closings, students with disabilities, and English language learners. She currently is investigating how different dimensions of classroom instructional environment are related to student outcomes. Dr. Gwynne earned her doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago.
Tony Habit, Ed.D., leads the North Carolina New Schools Project, a public-private partnership focused on secondary school reform and innovation. The organization partners with the public schools, government, higher education, and the private sector to advance more than 100 new approaches to secondary education in 74 local school districts. The organization also leverages success in new approaches to high school to advance policies and funding in North Carolina that will scale success in early college; science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education; and linking public schools to economic development strategies. In 2000, Dr. Habit was named an Eisenhower Fellow and traveled to New Zealand and Australia to study market competition in public education and the use of instructional technology to advance student achievement. In 2002, the Public School Forum of North Carolina presented Dr. Habit with its inaugural Lever Award in recognition of his leadership for private-public partnerships for innovation in the public schools. Dr. Habit holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in education from the University of South Carolina, and a doctorate in educational administration from Teachers College at Columbia University.
Joseph R. Harris, Ph.D., managing research analyst at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), has an extensive background in science, mathematics, and technology reform as well as high school reform in both general and special education. Since October 2006, he has served as the director of the National High School Center, a national research and technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education to help regions and states address both regular and special education high school improvement issues. During his tenure as director, Dr. Harris has focused on integrating special and general education instruction and support through tiered intervention and other dropout prevention models and has presented at national conferences sponsored by the Office of Special Education Programs and the Council for Exceptional Children. For the previous 12 years, Dr. Harris served as the project manager for a major technical assistance contract, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of the Systemic Initiatives, a multiyear NSF effort designed to promote improved mathematics, science, and technology education in more than 100 state, rural, and urban school districts and regional consortia. Prior to joining The McKenzie Group and AIR, Dr. Harris served as an administrator and teacher in the District of Columbia Public Schools. For more than a decade, he coordinated the development, implementation, and operation of an automated instructional management system and played a major role in the development and implementation of the district’s five-year computer literacy plan. Dr. Harris holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematical statistics from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in secondary education from the Catholic University of America, and a doctorate in education policy from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Larry Irvin is completing his fourth year as the principal of Edwin G. Foreman High School, a comprehensive neighborhood high school within the Chicago Public Schools. Foreman High School has approximately 1,800 students, 90 percent of whom qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, and more than 90 percent of whom are African American or Hispanic. Implementing positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) at Foreman High School is one of the major components of Irvin’s theory of action for this school’s improvement. His theory of action includes the following three levers: (1) building leadership capacity via teacher teams, (2) developing teachers’ capacity to (a) use best practices and a common language for high-quality instruction and (b) implement a standards-based curriculum that meets the needs of students, and (3) ensuring a variety of student supports for academics, attendance, and behavior, including PBIS. During the past four years, Foreman’s freshman on-track rate has climbed from 45 percent to more than 70 percent year-to-date; the graduate rate, from 53 percent to 77 percent; the dropout rate has decreased from 10.8 percent to below 5 percent; attendance has risen from 76 percent to more than 80 percent; and major office discipline referrals have a four-year trend of decreasing, including an approximate 16 percent decrease in the 2010–11 school year in both minor and major infractions. Irvin is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Urban Education Leadership program.
Phil Jankowski is the principal of Armada High School and director of secondary curriculum for the Armada Area Schools in Armada, Michigan. The district has been recognized by the Michigan Department of Education as one of 14 Project ReImagine districts for its vision and innovation in education. Jankowski began his career at Fitzgerald High School in Warren, Michigan, where he earned distinction as both district and Macomb County teacher of the year. As principal of a high-performing high school, Jankowski was invited to present at the Governor’s Education Summit in Michigan on Universal Design for Learning and on integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines in career preparation programs. In addition, he has presented for the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals on education equity and for the Michigan Institute of Education Management on teacher evaluations. Jankowski holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Wayne State University and is currently completing his doctorate in education leadership at Oakland University.
Claire Kaplan serves as the vice president for Strategy and Knowledge Management at the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL), an organization dedicated to expanding learning time in order to eliminate the achievement gaps among high-poverty students and provide a well-rounded education for all children. Kaplan has led the development of NCTL’s knowledge center, which documents promising practices and resources on the topic of how schools can expand learning time to improve student learning outcomes. She also has led the development of a technical assistance strategy to support schools and districts planning to redesign their school day and add learning time. In 2005, she co-authored Massachusetts 2020’s report Time for Change: The Promise of Extended Time Schools. Prior to joining NCTL and Massachusetts 2020, Kaplan founded and led CEK Strategies, a small consulting company that provided strategic planning, project management, program planning, writing, evaluation, and facilitation services to schools, universities, community-based organizations, and foundations.
Carolyn Kelley, Ph.D., is professor and former chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Dr. Kelley’s research focuses on the preparation and development of school leaders and teacher evaluation and compensation as elements of strategic human resources management in schools. Dr. Kelley’s current research focuses on building an online formative assessment and feedback system to support instructional leadership development in middle and high schools, the Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning (CALL). This project is funded by a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. She also is co-author, with Dr. James J. Shaw, of Learning First! A School Leader’s Guide to Closing Achievement Gaps (Corwin Press, 2009), which is a field guide for principals on how to approach leadership in order to close achievement gaps and advance learning for all students. In 2010, she published Advancing Student Learning through Distributed Instructional Leadership: A Toolkit for High School Leadership Teams (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction), which documents the work of 18 high schools in Wisconsin to build leadership for learning teams through a grant funded by the Wallace Foundation between 2008 and 2010.
Yael Kidron, Ph.D., is a senior research analyst at the American Institutes for Research. Dr. Kidron specializes in translating research to practice, research methods, and adolescent development. She currently serves as the co-project director of the U.S. Department of Education's Doing What Works Initiative (subcontract to WestEd) and the research team leader for the National High School Center. Dr. Kidron is experienced in leading critical reviews of educational research. Her experience includes serving as the deputy project director of the U.S. Department of Education What Works Clearinghouse, leading the research syntheses for the Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center, and working as part of the National i3 Evaluation (subcontract to Abt Associates). Dr. Kidron was the project director of the evaluation of the Florida Literacy and Reading Excellence professional development program in low-performing high schools in Florida. She also recently served as the project director of a review of the use of the New York City knowledge management system (ARIS) in elementary, middle, and high schools and the City Year’s Whole School, Whole Child conceptual project. Dr. Kidron earned her doctorate in psychology from the University of Haifa, Israel, and conducted her postdoctoral work at Stanford University.
Steven Kimball, Ph.D., is an assistant scientist with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) and the Value-Added Research Center (VARC) within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His work with the CPRE Teacher Compensation Project included research and dissemination on standards-based teacher evaluation and compensation reforms. He also was the co-principal investigator of a 2005–07 study funded by the Institute of Education Sciences on performance evaluation of principals. Dr. Kimball currently is working on the Integrated Resource Information Systems (IRIS) project in Milwaukee Public Schools, which is seeking to capture and analyze new data on school use of resources and educator professional development. He is completing a study of human capital management practices in a large, urban district as part of the CPRE Strategic Management of Human Capital project. He also is leading a technical assistance team for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Educator Effectiveness Design Team, which is developing frameworks for teacher and principal evaluation. In his work with VARC, Dr. Kimball is part of the technical assistance team for the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund. In this capacity, he supports grantees on teacher and principal evaluation and compensation issues as well as program evaluation. In addition, he is the principal investigator for the evaluation of the Chicago Community Trust Education Program. Before completing his graduate studies, Dr. Kimball held legislative analyst positions in the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the Texas State Office in Washington, D.C. Dr. Kimball earned his doctorate from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Sheryl (Sheri) Leo is a senior technical assistance consultant at American Institutes for Research (AIR). Leo has spent the past 10 years working on teacher effectiveness issues, first as a teacher, then as a policy researcher and district-level administrator. In her current work with AIR, Leo guides state and district organizations in the creation of rigorous teacher performance management systems; clients include the state of Mississippi and the district of Hazelwood, Missouri. She also supports three Teacher Incentive Fund grantees with five-year grants totaling $34.8 million as they complete the design, training, and preliminary implementation of their performance-based compensation models. Prior to joining AIR, Leo was the director of teacher effectiveness initiatives in the Office of Human Capital at Chicago Public Schools. Her portfolio included new teacher induction, a formative teacher evaluation pilot of Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching, National Board Certification, and Chicago TAP (the district’s performance-based compensation pilot). Leo holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Brown University, a master of arts in teaching from American University, and a master of public policy from the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago.
Carlas McCauley, Ed.D., is an education program specialist in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. McCauley is tasked with administering the 1003(g) School Improvement Grants Program, which authorizes funds to help state education agencies and local education agencies address the needs of schools in improvement, corrective action, and restructuring in order to improve student achievement. Previously, Dr. McCauley was a project director for the National Association of State Boards of Education, where he worked with state policymakers in an effort to transform secondary education through policy development. In addition, Dr. McCauley worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he contributed to the district’s efforts to relieve overcrowded schools in the nation’s second largest school district. Dr. McCauley holds a master’s degree and a doctor of education from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Debby Houston Miller, Ph.D., is the deputy director of literacy at the Center on Instruction (COI), located at the Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University. The COI literacy team develops resources for regional center, state, and school district use to improve reading outcomes for K–12 students. Dr. Miller has experience as a teacher, district administrator, and state special education administrator. She has designed professional development materials and documents that translate research to practice for teachers and administrators. Her interests and experience span reading, special education, instructional design, and research to practice.
Linda Miller, director of the Great Lakes West Comprehensive Center, manages the center and the technical assistance it provides to the state education agencies (SEAs) in Illinois and Wisconsin. As one of 16 regional comprehensive centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Miller’s center builds the capacity of the state staff to improve the state’s lowest performing districts and schools. The center’s technical assistance includes facilitation, needs sensing, thought partnering, professional development and coaching, and convening of state and local groups interested in helping all students succeed. Miller has more than 20 years of experience in technical assistance and program management and has provided support to states, districts, and schools. For 10 years, she assisted state coordinators in building community and school partnerships and managing federally funded extended learning programs and activities.
Christy Murray is the deputy director of the Center on Instruction’s special education and response to intervention (RTI) work as well as project manager at The Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk (MCPER) at The University of Texas at Austin. During her five years in this role, she has provided technical assistance to regional comprehensive centers and state departments of education as well as developed products, publications, and professional development materials. Previously, she served as data coordinator on a longitudinal research study that examined the implementation of the three-tier RTI model with elementary schools in the area of K–3 reading. Her research interests include RTI, effective reading instruction, and intervention for struggling students. Prior to joining MCPER, she worked as an elementary school teacher in both general and special education.
Mindee O’Cummings, Ph.D., a senior research analyst at the American Institutes for Research, has worked in the field of education for more than 16 years. Her experiences include teaching in special and general education settings; serving as an elementary and middle school vice principal; conducting research and program evaluations; providing technical assistance to educators, researchers, and developers; and working with student families. Dr. O’Cummings currently serves as the project director of a large-scale validation study of Check & Connect; collaboration and coordination task leader for the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk (NDTAC); and special education coordinator and technical assistance liaison for the National High School Center. In all of these positions, Dr. O’Cummings has been able to blend her professional expertise with her personal passion of preventing students from dropping out of school though national conference presentations and the co-authoring of an early warning system tool that enables schools to use readily available data to identify students with a high likelihood of dropping out. She also has served as adjunct faculty at both Arizona State University and George Mason University, where she has taught classes in the areas of education and research methodologies. She is the author of numerous reports, articles, and presentations at local, state, and national conferences. Dr. O’Cummings holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in special education from the University of New Mexico and earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Arizona State University.
Alexandra Pardo is the academic director for Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School in Washington, D.C. In this role, Pardo revamped the school’s curriculum and academic program emphasizing standards aligned instruction honing in on effective data use and accountability. As a result, the school’s state test scores improved by 30 percent in reading and mathematics in two years, an honors and AP program were developed yielding average AP scores that surpassed the state average, SAT scores increased by more than 150 points, student scheduling was revamped, staff retention was increased, and the school became accredited by the Middle States Association. Prior to working at Thurgood Marshall Academy, Pardo worked for the District of Columbia Public Schools. A Teach for America alumna, Pardo holds an undergraduate degree in international affairs from The George Washington University, a master’s degree in teaching from American University, and a master’s degree in school administration from Trinity University.
Nick Pinchok is a senior consultant with the Great Lakes West Comprehensive Center. His work focuses on the development and oversight of technical assistance plans focused on statewide initiatives that support the Illinois State Board of Education. Pinchok has managed and facilitated the work of contractors and subcontractors to provide support on the new Common Core State Standards rollout and implementation, facilitating and supporting new English language learners policy and guidance, and other reforms. He also has consulted with state education agencies and local education agencies on ways to improve current state assessment systems and processes and co-authored A Brief on Performance-Based Assessment Technical Considerations From an International Perspective and Connecting Formative Assessment Research to Practice. Pinchok worked at Aurora East School District 131 as an assessment coordinator and with private-sector education companies in the areas of assessment and curriculum development. He earned his master’s degree in education from Benedictine University.
Stanley Rabinowitz, Ph.D., is the director of WestEd’s Assessment and Standards Development Services (ASDS) program and is the director of the national Assessment and Accountability Comprehensive Center (AACC). In these roles, he has consulted extensively on standards, assessment, and accountability issues with policymakers and assessment staff at national, regional, and state levels. Dr. Rabinowitz is intimately familiar with the standards and assessment system challenges and constraints faced by states, having worked with more than half the states in the United States. He also supports states as they design and implement new standards, assessment, and accountability systems. Dr. Rabinowitz served as a member of the Common Core State Standards national validation committee. He is the director for the project management partner of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium. Prior to joining WestEd, Dr. Rabinowitz served as the state assessment director for the New Jersey Department of Education. He earned his doctorate in educational psychology and statistics from the University at Albany, State University of New York.
Claudette Rasmussen is a senior consultant in the Education, Human Development, and the Workforce program at American Institutes for Research. She works within the Great Lakes East and West Comprehensive Centers and with the teacher quality group. Much of her work during the past 15 years has been with state and district leadership teams, providing expert consultation in professional learning, continuous improvement, and leadership development. Rasmussen has provided long-term technical assistance to Department of Education leaders in Ohio to enhance the state system of support as they roll out a new Ohio Improvement Process and in Michigan to revise professional development policy and guidelines and to implement an Individual Professional Development Plan. More recently, she has consulted with Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction leaders to support their comprehensive improvement work in Milwaukee Public Schools and with leaders from the Illinois State Board of Education to design professional learning for continuous improvement coaches in their statewide system of support. Rasmussen has worked with K–12 districts in the Midwest to improve mentor induction programs, incorporate job-embedded professional development opportunities, and develop engaging, culturally responsive instruction. In 2006, she completed a three-year contract with the K–12 educational system of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where intensive technical assistance resulted in substantive improvement, including significant achievement gains in 19 of 33 schools within the territory. Rasmussen has co-authored several publications, including a book on problem-based learning, and has led the design and development of professional learning resources, including an online guide to professional learning communities, a lesson study video guide, and a CD-ROM facilitator toolkit. Previously, she was co-investigator of a National Science Foundation teaching grant and spent 18 years in schools in program, curriculum, and professional development within special, regular, and gifted education. Rasmussen earned a master’s degree in education from National College of Education and served as an adjunct instructor in its graduate school.
Beth Ratway is a senior consultant in state services at American Institutes for Research. She works with state education agencies and intermediate school districts to develop innovative 21st century systems that improve academic achievement for all students. She leads workshops and gives presentations to teachers and community and business leaders in states and districts on developing a new vision for education that prepares students for 21st century colleges, communities, and careers; district and school improvement; professional development; high school reform; and numerous specific topics on implementing education reform. She has 16 years of experience in public school education and teaches undergraduate social studies methods courses. She has worked in middle and high schools as a social studies teacher, teacher consultant, and district-level professional development coordinator. She served as a consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, where she led the statewide high school task force work, including the facilitation of stakeholder engagement meetings and the development of a task force report and website highlighting recommendations, research, resources, and best practices in high schools. Her experience and training in professional development and in curriculum design is extensive. She earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and currently is pursuing a doctorate in curriculum and instruction, focusing on professional development, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Sam Redding, Ed.D., is the executive director of the Academic Development Institute, an organization he founded in 1984. He also is the director of the Center on Innovation & Improvement, one of five national content centers funded by the U. S. Department of Education. Since 1991, he has served as the executive editor of the School Community Journal. He taught special education and social studies at the high school level, coached several sports, and was later a college psychology and education professor. He was dean and vice president of Lincoln College. For 11 years, he was a senior research associate at the Laboratory for Student Success at Temple University. Dr. Redding has designed and started an alternative high school serving central Illinois. He has authored books, chapters, and articles on school improvement, state systems of support, school turnarounds, parent involvement, and the school community. He served on the expert panel on school turnarounds for the Institute of Education Sciences. He has consulted with more than 30 state education agencies and many districts. Dr. Redding holds master’s degrees in psychology and English, and he earned a doctorate in educational administration from Illinois State University.
Mel Riddile, Ed.D. In July 2008, after a distinguished career as the principal of J. E. B. Stuart High School, which National Geographic magazine called “America’s most diverse high school,” in Fairfax County, Virginia, and T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, Mel Riddile, Ed.D., joined the staff of the National Association of Secondary School Principals as the associate director for high school services. Dr. Riddile was the 2006 National High School Principal of the Year and was the 2005 Virginia High School Principal of the Year. His work as a high school principal has received national and international recognition from National Geographic magazine, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. As a principal of both a Breakthrough High School and an International Center on Leadership in Education/Chief Council of State School Officers Model School, Dr. Riddile is a recognized leader in efforts to reinvent America’s high schools. He has received both White House and U.S. Department of Education recognition and was a member of the U.S. Secretary of Education’s High School Reform Task Force. Dr. Riddile’s pioneering work in the field of adolescent literacy has been featured in the publications Time to Act, Breaking Ranks II, Creating a Culture of Literacy, and Double the Work as well as in Edutopia magazine and has led to his active involvement in advisory boards, including those of the National Governor’s Association, the Council of Corporate School Partnerships, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Scholastic Publishing. Dr. Riddile’s work as a turnaround principal has been featured in Breaking Ranks II, Breaking Ranks: A Field Guide for Leading Change, Differentiating School Leadership, and case studies produced by the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia and the International Center for Leadership in Education and Council of Chief State School Officers. Dr. Riddile holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree from George Mason University, and he earned his doctorate from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.
Mabel Rivera is the deputy director of the Center on Instruction’s English Language Learning (ELL) work and is a member of the research faculty at the Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics (TIMES) at the University of Houston. She offers technical assistance to the regional comprehensive centers as they support state education agencies and school districts’ efforts in teacher professional development. As a former elementary school general and special education teacher in the public schools, Rivera gained valuable expertise in teaching struggling learners. Her research interests include the education and prevention of academic difficulties in English language learners and students with disabilities.
Don Rosin is the Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training, and Support’s Native American Center director and supports Wisconsin tribal communities to empower families and others to secure the best possible outcomes for their children. He is a member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. Rosin serves as a Region 4 Parent Technical Assistance Center multicultural specialist, providing support related to Native American resources and issues to parent centers in nine states. Previously, he was director of the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council Native American Family Empowerment Center and an emotional behavioral disability teacher and school board member in the Ashland School District. He serves on the Wisconsin Indian Education Association Board, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction CREATE and SLD committees, the Wisconsin Statewide Parent-Education Board, the Wisconsin Family Ties Board, the Tribal Coalition Board, the NICHCY National Resource Center Board, and the Office of Special Education Programs National Multicultural Task Force. Rosin holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Marquette University.
Bryan Samuels is the commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), the federal agency serving children and families involved with child welfare or at risk of abuse or neglect, families impacted by domestic violence, and runaway and homeless youth. ACYF also administers evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. Prior to joining ACYF, Samuels served as the chief of staff for Chicago Public Schools and as director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Jenny Scala. A research analyst at the American Institutes for Research, Scala serves as a technical assistance liaison for the National High School Center as well as a technical assistance provider for the National Center on Response to Intervention. She has provided technical assistance to states, districts, and schools for more than 10 years. Her experience includes assisting state education agency staff to create new strategies for supporting underperforming districts and schools, assisting states to address high school redesign issues, aligning teacher certification and licensure requirements to include evidence-based practices, and creating statewide frameworks focused on improving adolescent literacy outcomes.
Jan Serak is the executive director of the Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training, and Support (WI FACETS) and co-director of the Region 4 Parent Technical Assistance Center, providing technical assistance to 18 Office of Special Education Programs-funded parent centers in nine Midwest states. Serak is a partner in the Wisconsin Special Education Mediation System, serves on the IDEA Partnership Creating Agreement team, serves on the North Central RTI Collaborative, and co-directs WI FACETS’ Parent Training and Information Center. Serak is a private practice mediator and national trainer on alternative dispute resolution, family involvement, and nonprofit management. She holds a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a master’s degree in educational psychology and dispute resolution from Marquette University.
Jennifer Shea. As a program manager, Jennifer Shea develops toolkits for states and districts engaged in turnaround while supporting other major School Turnaround Group initiatives. Prior to joining Mass Insight, Shea was with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in Washington, D.C., where she worked on the federal policy team. She engaged directly with members of the U.S. Congress and key staff members to advance legislative initiatives while building the capacity of state charter school organizations to have an effect on state and local policy initiatives. Prior to working at the Alliance, she was a litigation legal assistant for a corporate law firm in New York. Shea holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University.
Margaret (Peggy) Simon, Ph.D., is a senior research associate for RMC Research Corporation and is the Adolescent Literacy Content lead for Doing What Works (DWW). She has more than 35 years of experience in education concentrated in the areas of literacy in Grades pre-K–12, teacher preparation and professional development, and program evaluation and research. Dr. Simon has had a lead role on a number of federal contracts focused on identifying best practices and translating research into practice for a variety of audiences, including the development of multimedia resources for the U. S. Department of Education’s Doing What Works initiative on topics such as pre-K–12 literacy, K–12 mathematics, and response to intervention. She holds a master of education in child development from Tufts University and earned her doctorate in developmental psychology/research and evaluation from Boston College.
Becky A. Smerdon, Ph.D., is the founder and managing director of Quill Research Associates, LLC, a small, woman-owned research and evaluation consulting firm. She currently is co-principal investigator of three high school research studies funded by the National Science Foundation and The Spencer Foundation and is working with state and local education agencies to develop school improvement initiatives. Dr. Smerdon was previously a Senior Urban Fellow working with District of Columbia Public Schools to develop early warning indicators and a First Focus Fellow providing policymakers and advocacy groups with research-based recommendations on policy briefs and draft legislation. She is a nationally recognized expert in high school reform, with numerous national conference presentations and publications in academic journals. Her first book, Saving America’s High Schools, was published in 2009. She currently is drafting her second book on high school reform, scheduled for publication in 2011.
David Smiley has been a high school and middle school principal for the past 16 years in Elgin School District U-46, with the last 10 being at Elgin High School. Previously, Smiley was a reading teacher and head football coach at Streamwood High School for 14 years. Smiley’s first teaching assignment was at Warren Township High School in Gurnee, Illinois, where he taught a self-contained behavior disorder class and coached three sports. With strong support from his administrative team, Elgin High School rolled out its positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) program in January 2009. With the help and guidance of the Illinois PBIS Network and District U-46’s internal coaches, Elgin High School has made significant strides in a short period of time, with functioning teams at the universal and secondary levels. Next year, the Tier II team will have a common release period daily to work on all aspects of the intervention program. Elgin High School will be the only school in the system that has been afforded this opportunity based on the work done in the last two years. Smiley will be retiring from Elgin High School in June 2011 but hopes to continue working with high schools in the Chicagoland area.
Kathleen Smith, Ed.D., is the director of the Office of School Improvement at the Virginia Department of Education. Her past experience as a special education educator, an alternative education specialist, a career and technical director, a preschool specialist, and a school improvement specialist has provided her with a diverse background as a reference point to support low-performing schools and districts. Dr. Smith’s career in the public school system and in public education has focused on high-poverty students. Her dissertation, The Impact of District and School Climate on Student Achievement, was a culmination of her desire to support district in finding systemic avenues to reach chronically low-performing schools. Dr. Smith recently earned her doctorate from the College of William and Mary.
Jayne Sowers, Ed.D., is a senior consultant at American Institutes for Research. For the past five years, she has served as the lead of school and district improvement in the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Center for the Indiana Department of Education. In this role, she works closely with multiple divisions at the state to determine their needs and priorities in relation to school and district improvement. This work includes reviewing research and best practices, presenting summaries to the state staff for their decision making, and assisting the staff in developing the materials and supports needed for implementation. She assisted the state in writing the federal and local education agencies School Improvement Grants, creating a scoring rubric and process, and developing ways to monitor and support the schools. She is currently assisting Indiana with school turnarounds and professional development for the state division of English language learners. Dr. Sowers is the author of two textbooks, with a strong emphasis on the needs of English language learners, students of color, and students with special needs: Language Arts in Early Childhood Education and Creating a Community of Learners: Solving the Puzzle of Classroom Management. She wrote a short guide regarding No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act requirements: Quick Key 2: Understanding the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Opportunities for Schools in Need of Improvement. In addition, she was the author and actor of a series of videotapes and activity books used in Asia for young children learning English: Rainbows and Kites: Young Children Learning English as a Second/Foreign Language.
Circe Stumbo is the president of West Wind Education Policy Inc., which she founded in 2001. West Wind works to build the capacity of state and local education leaders to imagine and enact a public K–12 education system that overcomes historic and persistent inequities and engages every child in learning. Under Stumbo’s direction, West Wind recently has been consulting with the Council of Chief State School Officers. Through this work, Stumbo helped to launch the new State Consortium on Educator Effectiveness (SCEE), designed its inaugural National Summit on Educator Effectiveness, and coordinates its monthly webinars and online community of practice. Stumbo also formed a partnership between West Wind and Knowledge Alliance to create the Knowledge Initiative, which strives to transform the nation’s infrastructure for educational research and development toward the goal of transforming public education. West Wind crafted the Research to Action Forum, which brings together policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to engage in and use more and better applied research. West Wind also developed a model for Systemic Equity Leadership, which is grounded in systems thinking, learning organizations, adaptive leadership, and Critical Race Theory. West Wind uses this model in their work on racial equity and state capacity building. Stumbo has facilitated numerous national and statewide blue ribbon panels and summits, cross-functional working teams, organizational strategic planning processes, and equity leadership teams. For nearly 15 years prior to founding West Wind, Stumbo worked in nonprofit associations in the fields of agriculture, higher education, and K–12 education policy in Washington, D.C. She also taught political theory at the University of Maryland College Park, where she advanced to Ph.D. candidacy in 2001 before investing her efforts in West Wind and her commitment to alleviate racial inequities in public education. West Wind is proud to celebrate its 10-year anniversary in 2011. Circe holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Iowa and earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a master’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland.
Susan Bowles Therriault, Ed.D., is a senior research analyst in the Education, Human Development, and the Workforce program at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). She has been a researcher and technical assistance provider in the field of education policy for more than 15 years. Her work focuses on state policy, support for low-performing schools, and high school turnaround. Dr. Therriault has conducted research on state and district policy focused on systems of support for low-performing schools, state implementation of Title I, charter schools, school and district leadership, and comprehensive school reform models for middle and high schools. Presently, Dr. Therriault serves as a qualitative researcher on a federally funded Study of School Turnaround, which will document the change process in schools receiving federal Title I, 1003(g) School Improvement Grants (SIG) funds. In her current and past research, Dr. Therriault has focused on the mechanisms of support and strategies for turning around low-performing high schools. Recently completed research includes a multistate study of state systems of support for low-performing high schools funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; a mixed-methods study of the strategies and practices employed in Boston’s traditional, pilot, and charter schools funded by the Boston Foundation; and an evaluation of the Michigan State Support for High Priority Schools funded by the Michigan Department of Education. Dr. Therriault also provides technical assistance to states, districts, and schools. Presently, Dr. Therriault serves as a technical assistance liaison for the National High School Center at AIR, a federally funded content center that supports regions and states striving to improve high schools. As the liaison to five regions covering 22 states, Dr. Therriault provides real-time technical assistance by way of research syntheses, policy analysis, and product development to regions and states focusing on support for low-performing high schools. In addition, she has provided technical assistance through trainings, guides, and presentations to support state-level policymakers focused on improving high schools and implementation of state-, district-, and school-level early warning systems aimed at early identification of students at risk of dropping out of high school. Prior to joining AIR, she conducted and published research on the topics of state systems of support for low-performing schools, school choice, state capacity for education reform, and school leadership as well as provided technical assistance to state education agencies and districts as they implement improvement initiatives. She serves as a member-at-large of the Massachusetts School and District Accountability and Support Advisory Board and is the chairperson of her local school board. Dr. Therriault holds a master of education and a doctorate in education policy and leadership from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Steve Tozer is a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and founding coordinator of the Ed.D. program in Urban Education Leadership, which prepares principals to improve student learning in high-needs urban schools. He was president of the American Educational Studies Association and the Council for Social Foundations of Education and was former head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Tozer has served as chair of the Governor’s Council on Educator Quality in Illinois and chair of the State Legislative Task Force that led to changed school principal certification in Illinois. His district-level collaborations with Chicago Public Schools have been funded by the Broad Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, the McArthur Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and others. He is lead author of a textbook for teachers, School and Society, Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, 6th Edition (2009, McGraw Hill) and lead editor of The Handbook of Research in Social Foundations in Education (2011, Routledge).
Steve Underwood works in the Division of Student Achievement and School Improvement at the Idaho State Department of Education. He is the director of the statewide system of support and directly supervises the programs and support structures available to assist schools and districts in the process of improving their professional practices. These programs include response to intervention (RTI), parent and community engagement, systems improvement, and statewide school improvement programs. Underwood previously has served in roles that have provided leadership in a variety of areas, including literacy, RTI, action planning, assessment and data utilization, and instructional coaching. Prior to working for the Idaho State Department of Education, he served at Boise State University’s Center for School Improvement & Policy Studies as a technical assistance provider to schools throughout Idaho that participated in the Reading First initiative under Title I-B of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Underwood holds a master’s degree in education from Biola University and presently is a student in the Doctorate of Education program at Boise State University, where he is focusing his studies on systemic improvement for districts and schools.
Lee Vreeland currently serves as the director of Education and Student Services for An Achievable Dream Middle & High School in Newport News, Virginia. The organization’s name sums up what An Achievable Dream is about: helping minority children of poverty (100 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch) from inner-city neighborhoods claim the American dream. Vreeland has been with An Achievable Dream for 14 years. Having served in many different capacities within the organization prior to becoming the director of Education and Student Services, she adores the job but acknowledges that it requires incredible patience, love, and problem-solving skills blended with strategic business decisions and strong leadership. Regardless of the obstacles the students face in life, Vreeland has high expectations for every student. Vreeland is a graduate of Mary Baldwin College and earned her master’s degree in counseling from the College of William and Mary and her education specialist degree in educational administration and leadership from The George Washington University. She has decided to expand her education by completing her doctor of education in educational administration and policy studies at The George Washington University, with a scheduled enrollment date of January 2012.
Sara Wraight, J.D., is a senior policy analyst at American Institutes for Research (AIR). Using her unique background in the fields of education and law, she oversees policy outreach and technical assistance efforts for the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest. This work includes cultivating ongoing communication with state legislators, legislative staff, governor’s policy advisors, and state education agency personnel regarding topical education issues in the Midwestern states. Wraight manages the work of the policy staff and connects researchers to relevant projects that come from outreach work. She provides project management and oversight for various research projects for REL Midwest. In addition to the REL Midwest work, Wraight utilizes her education policy knowledge and skills to provide support to states and districts on school reform and improvement efforts. In addition, Wraight serves as subcontract manager for the AIR component of the U.S. Department of Education’s Reform Support Network (the group of technical assistance providers charged with supporting the Race to the Top grantee states). Wraight has two years of teaching experience, having taught in the upper elementary grades at both a charter school and a private school. Before entering the field of education, she was a practicing attorney. Wraight is a member of the American Educational Research Association. She earned a master’s degree in elementary teaching from Northwestern University and a juris doctor degree from Washington University in St. Louis.
Barbara Youngren is the director of the Great Lakes East Regional Comprehensive Center and a principal technical assistance consultant at American Institutes for Research. Previously, Youngren was the director of the North Central Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Consortium at the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory and Learning Point Associates. She taught at the elementary level for 26 years in both regular and gifted education and has 38 years of experience in education overall. Youngren also has taught middle-level and high school students in enrichment programs and courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in mathematics methods, remediation, and problem solving and critical thinking at National Louis University in Wheaton, Illinois. She has conducted numerous workshops and presentations on district and school improvement; professional development; curriculum reform; framework development; Lesson Study; and teaching and learning reform in mathematics, science, and technology education. Youngren brings expertise in consultation at the state, district, and school levels and urban, suburban, and rural settings in standards development and alignment, curriculum development and alignment, mathematics problem solving and critical thinking, assessment design, district and school improvement planning and action planning, effective technology use, and designing and implementing engaged learning projects. She earned master’s degrees in educational administration and in foundations of education with an emphasis in gifted education from Northern Illinois University.