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About the National High School Center

Senior Advisors to the National High School Center

The National High School Center Senior Advisors are nationally recognized leaders in various fields including literacy, dropout prevention, capacity building at the state, district and individual school level, and special education. This group of experts draw from their extensive background knowledge to advise the National High School Center on improving high schools.

Todd Flaherty
President and CEO, The College Crusade of Rhode Island

Todd Flaherty Dr. Flaherty is President and 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 in August 2009 after serving as Deputy in Residence for the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) where he worked on secondary school transformation at both the national and state level.  Prior to that, as Deputy Commissioner of Education in Rhode Island for twelve years (1995-2007), 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 SEA 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 (NECAP), formulating and implementing a set of high school restructuring regulations, and building a Highly Qualified Leaders program and website. Dr. Flaherty has also 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 RI School Superintendents Association (RISSA) and was principal of two award winning high schools: Governor James B. Hunt (Jr.) High School in North Carolina, and Narragansett High School, Rhode Island. Dr. Flaherty has been a visiting Associate Professor at Brown University focusing on educational leadership in urban and diverse settings. He holds a Bachelors Degree from Syracuse and a Doctorate from Boston University.

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Libia S. Gil
Vice President of Practice and Knowledge Use, Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Libia S. Gil Libia S. Gil is a vice president at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), where she leads their national implementation of evidence-based preschool to high school social and emotional learning. She is a former senior fellow/managing director at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where she provided counsel on leadership and school improvement initiatives. She was the co-leader in launching the newly established English Language Learners (ELLs) Center at AIR, which is designed to strengthen the connections between research, practice, and policy in providing support to ELLs. She was also the lead consultant for high school renewal efforts on behalf of the Gates Foundation. Her focus on multiple strategies to address student achievement gaps included the creation of small schools and support for small learning communities in multiple projects across the country. Dr. Gil was Superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District for over nine years.

In addition to multiple awards and honors, Dr. Gil received the 2002 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education for her outstanding leadership as Chula Vista Superintendent. The McGraw Prize is awarded annually to individuals who demonstrate exceptional contribution to the improvement of education systems.

Dr. Gil began her teaching career in the Los Angeles Unified School District and has taught in various programs, including English as a Second Language, Bilingual Education and Gifted and Talented programs. As a teacher, she and her colleagues created a successful K-12 alternative school and numerous alternative classroom programs. She has held a variety of administrative positions including school principal and Area Administrator, supervising K-12 principals, and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Gil has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with emphasis on bilingual and multicultural education from the University of Washington.

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Terry Salinger
Managing Director and Chief Scientist for Reading Research, American Institutes for Research

Terry Salinger Dr. Terry Salinger is a Managing Director and Chief Scientist for Reading Research at the American Institutes for Research. Her specific areas of focus are reading and literacy research and assessment. She is currently the project director for the Enhanced Reading Opportunities study, an IES-funded randomized control trial of the effectiveness of supplemental reading interventions for adolescent struggling readers. Additionally, Dr. Salinger provides content expertise on studies investigating pre-service teachers’ preparation to teach beginning reading, use of an explicit curriculum for adult ESL learners, and monitoring the implementation of the Reading First program. She headed a study of the secondary component of the Alabama Reading Initiative, a state-wide effort to enhance reading instruction; led the project to develop the framework and specifications for the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading; and was senior advisor to the development of the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. 

Dr. Salinger’s professional experiences prior to joining AIR in 1997 include four years as the director of research at the International Reading Association, where she was project director for the development of the National Council of Teachers of English/International Reading Association National Standards for the English Language Arts. She has worked at Educational Testing Service, where she headed development of the 1992 National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading, developed assessments of teacher knowledge, and did research on classroom-based assessment approaches for reading and writing. She has close to twenty years in other positions in education, first as a classroom teacher in New York City and then as a professor of reading and early childhood education at the University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Cincinnati.

Dr. Salinger has a doctorate in reading, with dual emphases on statistics and curriculum design, has done extensive research on the instruction and assessment of reading and writing; she has published widely, especially in the fields of literacy acquisition and standards-based assessment. Two chapters written by Dr. Salinger appear in the 2007 book Adolescent Literacy Instruction: Policies and Promising Practices, which is edited by Jill Lewis and Gary Moorman and published by the International Reading Association.


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