Stephanie Jackson, Managing Research Analyst, is serving as a Project Director to the National Center on Response to Intervention. In addition to this role, Dr. Jackson serves as the Co-Project Director of the Task Ordering Contract for the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). She is responsible for assisting OSEP to assume a proactive stance to communicating research-based knowledge for improving results for children with disabilities to multiple audiences. For the past three years, Dr. Jackson has been directing the special education component of New York Special Education Audit Project, which examines the alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment as well as professional development, management, and compliance through multiple lenses of data collection and analysis in districts identified for corrective action under NCLB. The process is intended to generate findings in concert with district participants to help districts identify probably causes, areas for improvement, and ways to generate plans to overcome their individual barriers to success.
She has more than 30 years of experience in a variety of educational environments, including general and special education settings, magnet schools, charter schools, and higher education where she worked as a general education and special education teacher, a special education administrator, an elementary school principal, and as the associate director of a research institute in a large, urban university. Dr. Jackson is co-author of Safe, Supportive, and Successful Schools: Step by Step, that gives schools practical information for establishing safe and healthy educational environments.
Darren Woodruff, Principal Research Analyst, serves as Co-Project Director for the National Center on Response to Intervention. Dr. Woodruff has a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Howard University, and works in a variety of research and technical assistance capacities on issues of school improvement and reform, supports for at risk youth, and disproportionality in special education. He also currently manages AIR's subcontract on the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Assistance Center, which provides technical assistance on disproportionality, RTI and other school reform issues in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. In April 2007, he was awarded an SEA contract to address disproportionality in Rhode Island. For the Elementary and Middle Schools Technical Assistance Center, he provided LEA training on effective behavioral supports and school violence prevention. Dr. Woodruff has also worked as an Associate Research Scientist with the Comer School Development Program at Yale University. Dr. Woodruff's numerous publications include the Harvard Civil Rights Project report, Racial Inequity in Special Education, and presentations on disproportionality at the NAACP, RRC, and Improving America's Schools national conferences.
Amy Elledge, Senior Research Analyst, is serving as the Deputy Director of the National Center on Response to Intervention. She also works on the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Assistance Center, which provides customized technical assistance Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio to support local districts and schools in implementing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the most recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Previously, Dr. Elledge worked on the National Longitudinal Study of NCLB, which was a four-year longitudinal evaluation of the district and school level implementation of NCLB, as well as the Study of State Implementation of NCLB. She also served as the Access Center's co-task leader for the direct technical assistance team as well as the Technical Assistance Liaison to the North Central region. Prior to joining AIR, Dr. Elledge worked with students with special needs in educational and recreational settings for over ten years. Dr. Elledge obtained her doctoral degree in Education Policy Studies from the University of Virginia.
Louis Danielson, Managing Director, is serving as a Senior Advisor to the National Center on Response to Intervention. Dr. Danielson is a national leader in the field of special education who has been involved in programs that improve results for students with disabilities for over three decades, and brings an unparalleled and unique depth of knowledge in both special education policy and research. Dr. Danielson was awarded a doctorate of philosophy in education from Pennsylvania State University. His career spans several roles in education including secondary school science and mathematics teacher, school psychologist, and teaching at the university level. Until recently, Dr. Danielson held leadership roles in the U.S. Office for Special Education Programs and was responsible for the discretionary grants program, including technical assistance and dissemination, personnel preparation, technology, parent training priorities and state improvement grants. He has served in numerous research and policy roles and has been involved in major school reform activities. A frequent contributor to professional journals, Dr. Danielson has published extensively in the literature and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, 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.
Maurice McInerney, Managing Research Analyst, is serving as the Co-Principal Investigator for the National Center on Response to Intervention, as well as a Senior Advisor to the Center. Dr. McInerney is a nationally recognized expert on disability policy and translating research into practice for students with disabilities and their families. He has successfully directed over 50 research, training, and technical assistance projects. Dr. McInerney also currently serves as Co-Principal Investigator of the National Center on Student Progress Monitoring. Notable accomplishments include his oversight of the Center's technical review of the scientific rigor of progress monitoring tools. This work is supporting increased national standards for progress monitoring in grades K-5. He also serves as Investigator on the Center for Early literacy Learning and is responsible for overseeing specialized technical assistance to states on scaling up evidence-based practices for early literacy. In addition, Dr. McInerney has directed AIR's Technical Support Contract with the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) since 1998. In this role, he conducts policy, communication, and evaluation tasks of interest to the Division's policymakers. Dr. McInerney is a former Mary E. Switzer National Research Fellow (NIDRR, ED), currently serves as a Fulbright Senior Specialist (U.S. Department of State), and has published extensively, especially on strategies for scaling up and sustaining the widespread use of evidenced-based practices.
Douglas Fuchs, Professor, is a Nicholas Hobbs Professor of Special Education and Human Development and Co-Director of Vanderbilt University's Kennedy Center Reading Clinic. Dr. Fuchs has been the Principal Investigator of 45 federally-funded research grants, including Co-Principal Investigator of OSEP's Progress Monitoring Center and Co-Principal Investigator and Director of OSEP's National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD). He has researched effective and practical pre-referral interventions, peer-assisted learning strategies in reading and math, curriculum-based measurement procedures, and methods of re-integrating students with high-incidence disabilities into mainstream settings. Dr. Fuchs has authored or co-authored more than 250 articles in peer-reviewed journals, and has won “best paper” awards for several of these publications, including the American Educational Research Association's Palmer O. Johnson Award, the American Psychological Association's Fellows' Award (Division 16), the Samuel A. Kirk Award (Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children), and “Best Paper of the Year” Award (National Association of School Psychologists). In 2001, he was named Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professor by Vanderbilt University. In 2003, along with Lynn Fuchs, he was awarded the Council for Exceptional Children's Career Research Award. In 2005, Dr. Fuchs received Vanderbilt University's Earl Sutherland Award for Achievement in Research.
Lynn Fuchs, Professor, is a Nicholas Hobbs Professor of Special Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Fuchs is a nationally recognized expert on classroom-based assessment and instructional methods to enhance outcomes for students with disabilities. She has been Principal Investigator of 45 federally-funded research grants. In addition to serving as senior consultant to OSEP's Progress Monitoring Center and as principal investigator of the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD), Dr. Fuchs is the co-director of the Vanderbilt Reading Clinic. Her research has examined methods to track and account for student growth and procedures for enhancing the outcomes of students with disabilities in reading and math. Dr. Fuchs was the co-editor of The Journal of Special Education for 15 years and currently serves on the boards of 10 journals. In 1998, she was the co-recipient of the Mayor's Award: Educator of the Year (Nashville, TN) and won the Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award for the best article in an American Educational Research Association journal. Dr. Fuchs was also the recipient of the Samuel Kirk award for Best Practice Article in Learning Disabilities Research and Practice (2000), School Psychology Review Best Article of the Year award (2001), and Career Research Award from the Council for Exceptional Children (2003).
Don Deshler, Professor, is Director of the Center for Research on Learning (CRL) and is the Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Special Education in the School of Education at the University of Kansas. The work of the CRL focuses on the validation of academic strategies to enable adolescents to meet state assessment standards and successfully graduate from college prepared to compete in the global economy. Dr. Deshler and his colleagues have completed an excess of $178 million of contracted R & D work related to the Content Literacy Continuum, a tiered intervention framework for raising literacy achievement for all adolescents. Dr. Deshler also serves as an advisor on adolescent achievement to several organizations including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Governor's Association, the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Council on Families and Literacy, and the U. S. State Department. He recently received a presidential appointment to serve as a member of the National Institute for Literacy Advisory Board. He has presented on matters of educational policy regarding adolescent literacy to the nation's governors at the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, and has testified in Congress and several state legislatures on secondary school reform. Through the Aspen Institute, Dr. Deshler has worked with members of Congress to shape policies addressing the challenges of high school reform. Dr. Deshler is the recipient of numerous awards including the J.E. Wallace Wallin Award for leadership in educational research, the Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award, and the Higuchi Research Achievement Award. Dr. Deshler's most recent textbook (with Annemarie Palincsar, Gina Biancarosa, and Marnie Nair) is Informed Choices: Principles and Programs for Adolescent Literacy.
Daryl Mellard, Associate Research Professor, is Director of the Division of Adult Studies for the University of Kansas' Center for Research on Learning, is a national expert with over 25 years of experience in adolescent and adult education. He has successfully served as principal investigator and director of numerous centers and projects, including serving as Co-Principal Investigator of the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD), under the Office of Special Education Program (OSEP). Two other related activities include the Principal Investigator role for an adolescent and adult literacy intervention study with Job Corps participants funded under the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and appointment to the National Academies of Science's Committee on Learning Sciences: Foundations and Applications to Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Dr. Mellard's work focuses on education and employment issues for adolescents and adults. Notably, he has demonstrated how to successfully reach out to and generate widespread support for using evidence-based practices among diverse audiences— including consumers, employers, and staff in secondary schools, community and technical colleges, and vocational rehabilitation agencies. Dr. Mellard has published widely and made numerous presentations at national conferences on state policies and evidence-based practices for LD identification, adolescent literacy, and adult education.
Jessica Agus, Technical Assistance Support Specialist, is a member of the technical assistance team at the NCRTI, where she provides support to states and stakeholders on implementing Response to Intervention. Jessica works with the NCRTI team to develop training modules, provide resources and guidance to states, and communicate with partners. In addition to her work on NCRTI, Jessica works for the National High School Center, which provides research and resources for Regional Comprehensive Centers and high school stakeholders. Jessica also serves as a member of the High School Tiered Interventions Initiative, a collaborative project between the NCRTI, NHSC, and the Center on Instruction (COI), which addresses the implementation of RTI in high schools. Prior to joining AIR, Jessica taught middle school in Memphis, TN. Jessica earned a Bachelor of Arts from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.
Melinda McKnight, Program Associate, works at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning (KU-CRL). As staff member of the National Center on Response to Intervention, she serves on the Technical Support Team and works in the knowledge production service area. In that area her focus is on data-based decision making within an RTI Framework. Ms. McKnight joined KU-CRL in the fall of 1991 as a Research Assistant. In this role she helped develop and complete research on Content Enhancement Routines and served as Coordinating Editor for the OSEP-funded Online Academy Reading Modules. From Fall 2004 through Summer 2008, Ms. McKnight was a Research Assistant at the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD), participating in the development of materials, working with school sites, and planning conferences related to RTI. Ms. McKnight has a M.S in Remedial Reading from the University of Kansas. She graduated from Colorado College, Colorado Springs, with a B.A. in Zoology and a teaching credential in Elementary Education.
Amy Peterson, Technical Assistance Support Specialist at American Institutes for Research. As a member of the National Center on Response to Intervention she provides technical assistance support and helps to develop and review products including training modules, webinars and presentations for the center on the essential components of RTI and implementation of RTI. Ms. Peterson also assists the Center with information dissemination and tracking technical assistance requests. In addition to working on the Center, Ms. Peterson helps to support the Interagency Working Group for Youth Programs, a federal collaboration of twelve federal agencies, in their efforts to promote enhanced collaboration around youth programs, disseminate key resources, evidence based programs and information about issues affecting youth, and develop a federal strategic plan for youth policy. Ms. Peterson graduated from St. Lawrence University with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Education Studies and received her M.A. in Education Policy from The George Washington University.
Jenny Scala, Research Analyst, is a Technical Assistance Provider on the National Center on Response to Intervention. In addition to the RTI Center, Jenny serves as a Technical Assistance Liaison for the National High School Center. She is currently the coordinator for a joint initiative with the High School Center, the RTI Center, and the Center on Instruction focusing on tiered interventions in high schools.
Jenny has provided technical assistance to states, districts and schools for over 10 years. Her experience includes assisting state education agency staff create new strategies for supporting underperforming districts and schools; assisting states in addressing issues related to high school redesign; aligning teacher certification and licensure requirements to include evidence-based practices; and creating statewide frameworks focused on improving adolescent literacy outcomes. She has also worked with districts to provide volunteers training aligned to district curriculum, and has provided social/emotional programs to both middle and high school students.
Ms. Scala holds an M.A. in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Kathryn Klingler Tackett, Research Analyst, coordinates technical assistance and product development for the National Center on Response to Intervention. Prior to serving as a Product Development Specialist for NCRTI, Dr. Tackett was a research associate at the Center on Instruction, Special Education Strand where she led a project on the implementation of RTI at the elementary and middle school levels. She is a former assistant instructor at The University of Texas at Austin, where she co-taught several undergraduate and doctoral level classes in the Department of Special Education. Dr. Tackett also worked on the Three-Tier Project, a randomized control trial investigating the effects of a RTI model on reading outcomes in grades K-3 led by Dr. Sharon Vaughn.
Her research interests – RTI, teacher education, reading, and program evaluation – have led to several journal articles, numerous presentations, workshops, and technical reports. Dr. Tackett obtained her doctoral degree in Special Education (Concentration in Learning Disabilities/Behavior Disorders) from The University of Texas at Austin. She has taught elementary general and special education in Mississippi and California.
Winsome Waite, Senior Technical Assistance Consultant, has responsibilities for intensive states and other general technical assistance provided by the NCRTI. An experienced educator and instructional leader, Dr. Waite has over 26 years of continuous experience in education. Dr. Waite has worked in a variety of classroom and educational leadership roles with state, regional, district, and school personnel in areas such as strategic planning, school improvement and reform, state and district assessments, curriculum development, professional development, Response to Intervention (RTI), diversity planning and training, and leadership capacity building. Her previous work with RTI served as a school improvement framework at district and school levels
Dr. Waite obtained her doctorate degree in educational leadership, with a concentration on changing populations, from the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, Maryland. She also has degrees in elementary education, early childhood education, and reading, and has authored various articles in the area of school improvement.
Dr. Rebecca Zumeta has 10 years of experience working in general and special education across school, university, and government settings. She currently coordinates Technical Assistance and Product Development for both the National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) and the National Center on Response to Intervention (RTI) at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Prior to AIR, she worked for the Washington State Department of Special Education providing technical assistance to build state and local capacity to implement RTI, and helped redesign the state's alternate assessment. She has worked on randomized controlled trials of mathematics intervention programs, and has co-authored several papers and a book chapter on RTI, mathematics intervention, and curriculum-based measurement (CBM). She chairs the Professional Development Standards and Ethics Committee of the Council for Exceptional Children's (CEC) Division for Learning Disabilities, and is a member of CEC's Division for Research. Dr. Zumeta also taught special education in public and private lab schools in the Seattle area. She earned a Ph.D. in Special Education from Vanderbilt University, an M.Ed. in Special Education from the University of Washington, and a B.A. in Psychology and Politics from Whitman College.
Susan Caceres, Senior Research Analyst, is the Coordinator of Evaluation for the National Center on Response to Intervention. In this role, Dr. Caceres conducts the formative and summative evaluation of the activities of the Center, including its effect upon improved SEA capacity and LEA implementation of RTI. While at AIR, Dr. Caceres has worked on several Technical Assistance Projects, including the K-8 Access Center and the Center for Technology Implementation and has also participated in several project evaluations including the New York Audit of Written, Tested, and Taught English Language Arts Curriculum, Ohio High School Transformation Initiative (OHSTI), IDEA Part D National Programs, and OSEP Communities of Practice. Prior to coming to AIR, Dr. Caceres worked for fourteen years in the field of education as a special education administrator and special education teacher. Dr. Caceres earned her doctorate from the George Washington University in Washington DC in Education Policy and completed her master's degree in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Julia Casasanto, Research Associate, provides administrative and organizational support in the establishment and maintenance of the Technical Review Committees for the National Center on Response to Intervention. Prior to joining AIR, Julia worked for Brown Medical School doing behavioral research in obesity and diabetes. She assisted on a number of projects including managing a nation-wide study of successful weight-loss maintenance. Julia graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a B.A. in Psychology.
Matthew Decker, Web Development Specialist, provides website support for the National Center on Response to Intervention. In this role he is responsible for maintaining the rti4success.org website, compiling analytics data, administering live chats, and distributing the NCRTI newsletter. In addition to the RTI Center, Matthew works on FindYouthInfo.gov, a project that provides information, resources, strategies and tools on cross-cutting topics that affect youth. Prior to joining AIR, Matthew worked as a contractor for USAID and served as a technology specialist for the Virginia Tech College of Architecture and Urban Studies. Matthew graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Industrial Design.
Whitney Donaldson, Senior Research Analyst, is a Service Area Coordinator for Collaboration, Networking and Web-Based Dissemination of RTI Information for the National Center on Response to Intervention. In this role she oversees web activity, mass communications and collaboration efforts with other technical assistance centers and organizations. Whitney previously worked for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in the Special Education Planning and Policy Development office. She also worked at the Council for Exceptional Children where she served as the Training Coordinator for the IDEA National Resource Cadre, providing technical assistance to trainers across the country. Whitney earned her M.Ed. in Special Education from Texas A&M University – Commerce and holds teaching certifications in both Special Education and Psychology from the state of Texas.
Allison Gruner Gandhi, Senior Research Analyst, currently serves as the Coordinator for Technical Review Committee activities for the National Center on Response to Intervention. In this role, she manages and oversees procedures related to the submission of tools from vendors, expert review of tools, and communication of review results to consumers. Dr. Gandhi also serves as a Task Leader for the Communications and Dissemination Task Order Contract to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), under which she supports policymakers in collecting, analyzing, and reporting on data related to IDEA-Part D National Programs. In addition, Dr. Gandhi is conducting data collection and analysis for the Special Education Component of the Audit of the Written, Taught, and Tested Curriculum for New York State, in which she is working collaboratively with districts that are under corrective action with the state due to failure to make AYP, in order to develop action plans for improvement. Dr. Gandhi has worked as Task Leader or Project Manager on a variety of research and evaluation projects for a variety of clients, including OSEP, the National Center for Education Statistics, and the Center for Mental Health Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Her primary area of expertise is K-12 special education policy, with an emphasis on inclusion. Dr. Gandhi has a Masters degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a doctorate in Education from Harvard University.
Crystala Lewis, Administrative Specialist, provides fiscal support and other supportive services for the National Center on Response to Intervention. In addition to the support to the National Center on Response to Intervention, Mrs. Lewis also provides fiscal and other supportive services for the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). She also serves as the Project Manager for the Reading First Monitoring project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. In this role, Mrs. Lewis works closely with the project director and is responsible for budget oversight, quality control, staff supervision, contractual deliverables, and timeline management for all scheduled Reading First Monitoring site visits. Mrs. Lewis previously served as a Project Manager for the Enhanced Reading Opportunities (ERO) study, under the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), and for various projects for the Office of Special Education. Mrs. Lewis also provides comprehensive support services for other AIR projects; these services include coordinating logistics (registration, travel, reimbursement), planning training sessions, and managing documents.
Victoria Rankin Marks, Research Analyst, is serving as a Task Leader for the analysis of disproportionate representation in special education for the National Center on Response to Intervention. In this role, she is involved in reviewing states' reporting of special education indicators, analyzing district data, and identifying RTI strategies that can be used to address disproportionate representation. In addition to her work on the RTI Center, Dr. Marks is also involved with the Great Lakes East Comprehensive Assistance Center, which provides technical assistance on disproportionality and other school reform issues in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. She also contributed to the identification and analysis of disproportionate representation in school districts for an SEA contract in Rhode Island. Dr. Marks' areas of expertise include academic achievement disparities, early childhood education, school-family connections, and the sociology of education. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Virginia. In addition, she holds a Bachelor of Arts/Master of Science in Sociology/Social Research from Hunter College of the City University of New York.
DeAngela Milligan, Research Associate, assists the National Center on Response to Intervention, with budget management. She also works on the National Evaluation and Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent or At Risk (NDTAC) were she helps with the provision of technical assistance to State Title I, Part D, coordinators. DeAngela also works on the Insider Threat Research Roadmap project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Prior to AIR, DeAngela worked as a Counseling Services Specialist for a federal TRIO program funded by the U.S. Office of Post-Secondary Education. She graduated from Bowie State University with a B.S. in Psychology.
Edward Shapiro, Professor, is Director of the Center for Promoting Research to Practice at Lehigh University, which is a subcontractor to the National Center on Response to Intervention. The Center's focus is on providing technical assistance on the statewide evaluation process of Response to Intervention. He has been principal or co-principal investigator on 17 federally funded research and training projects. The focus of his work has been on effective implementation of innovative research practices with special emphasis in the area of assessment and intervention for academic skills problems.
Dr. Shapiro is Professor of School Psychology and Director, Center for Promoting Research to Practice in the College of Education at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He is the 2006 winner of the Senior Scientist Award given by the Division of School Psychology of the American Psychological Association in recognition of senior members of the field who have provided a sustained program of outstanding theoretical and research activity. He is author or co-author of 10 books, including his most recently published third edition of Academic Skills Problems: Direct Assessment and Intervention. Among his many projects, Dr. Shapiro co-directs a federal model/demonstration project focused on the development of a multi-tiered, Response-to-Intervention model in two districts in Pennsylvania and a federal project to train future school psychologists as facilitators of RTI. Over the past 10 years, Dr. Shapiro has been working as a consultant with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to facilitate an effort to establish statewide progress monitoring systems for students in special education and is currently collaborating with the Pennsylvania Department of Education in developing and facilitating the implementation of the Response to Instruction and Intervention methodology for the state.
Lisa Thomas, Research Assistant, works at the Center for Promoting Research to Practice at Lehigh University. Lisa focuses the majority of her work in supporting the development of materials to support statewide evaluation of RTI practices. Her responsibilities include identifying state practices related to RTI, developing training materials for statewide evaluation of RTI, and examining the legal implications of using RTI for SLD determination.
Lisa received a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Elementary and Kindergarten Education from the Pennsylvania State University. She then completed a M.Ed. in Human Development at Lehigh University. Lisa is currently working towards her doctorate in School Psychology at Lehigh University. Her research interests have focused on children with chronic illness and the development of a repeated measure of reading comprehension.