Our Researchers

Deborah Adkins, MS

Deborah Adkins, MS, is a Research Scientist at NWEA, where she focuses on diagnostic measurement, field research, and efficacy studies. Ms. Adkins is particularly interested in the challenges of effectively assessing early learners (pre-K through 2nd grade) and providing information and/or guidelines for differentiated instruction and assessment. She has an MS in Systems Science from Portland State University.

Proficiency Illusion


John Cronin, Ph.D.

Dr. Cronin is the Senior Director of Research at NWEA. Dr. Cronin’s recent work has focused on student achievement and the Common Core, teacher evaluation policy, and the impact of accountability initiatives on schools and students. Dr. Cronin provides consultation related to testing to several organizations, including the U.S. Department of Education, the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators (COSA), and the New York State Council of School Superintendents. He has published articles on these issues in the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) journal and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) journal; additionally, he’s been a featured blogger on Huffington Post. Dr. Cronin holds a Ph.D. in Educational Studies from Emory University.

Michael Dahlin, Ph.D.

Carl Hauser, Ph.D.

Dr. Hauser is a Senior Research Scientist at NWEA, specializing in psychometric research for NWEA assessments. Dr. Hauser is a lead on NWEA RIT Scale Norms studies, which may be used to guide instructional and accountability decisions, and is involved with calibrating operational test items. Prior to joining NWEA, he served as the Director of Assessment for Olympia School District in Washington State for 20 years. There he received several awards and recognitions for research that held implications for assessment practice beyond the school district. Dr. Hauser holds a Ph.D. in Special Education–Research & Evaluation from the University of Oregon.

Wei He, Ph.D.

Dr. He is the Senior Manager of Psychometric Services at NWEA, where she oversees the psychometric issues relating to Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) interim assessments and conducts relevant research in support of this test. Her research interests include psychometrics, computerized adaptive testing, educational accountability issues, and applied statistics. Her research has been published in journals such as Journal of Educational Measurement, Educational and Psychological Measurement, and International Journal of Testing. She holds a Ph.D. in Measurement and Quantitative Methods from Michigan State University.

  • He. W., Diao, Q., & Hauser, C. (2014). A comparison of four item-selection methods for severely constrained CAT. Educational and Psychological Measurement.
  • He, W., & Reckase, M. (2013). Item pool design for an operational variable-length computerized adaptive test. Educational and Psychological Measurement.
  • He, W., & Wolfe. W. (2010). Item equivalence in English and Chinese translation of a cognitive development test for preschoolers. International Journal of Testing.

Andrew Hegedus, Ed.D.

Dr. Andrew Hegedus is a Senior Research Manager at NWEA, where he consults with partners across the country, prototypes, launches, and supports state-of-the-art reports, and manages research projects focused on understanding the drivers for growth in schools with differing levels of challenges. His interests include working with education system leadership to use data and evidence wisely, to build their capacity, and to improve their system’s performance as a result. Andy holds an Ed.D. in Education Leadership from the University of Delaware, a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University, and B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. Andy is also a Broad Superintendents Academy Fellow.


Nate Jensen, Ph.D.

Dr. Jensen is a Research Scientist at NWEA, where he specializes in issues related to the use of student testing data in accountability systems. He has provided consultation and support to teachers, administrators, and policymakers across the country to help establish best practices when student achievement and growth data are used for evaluation purposes. Before joining NWEA he was a senior research associate in the Office for Education Policy in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and a teacher at the New England Center for Children. He holds a Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Arkansas.

Quinn Lathrop, Ph.D.

Dr. Quinn Lathrop is a Research Scientist at NWEA. His research focuses on methodological advancements of Item Response Theory within adaptive learning and assessment systems. Past projects have included topics such as non-parametric IRT, classification accuracy and consistency, multi-level and explanatory IRT, and using data mining techniques to make psychometric inferences. He holds a PhD in Quantitative Psychology from the University of Notre Dame.

  • Lathrop, Q. N. & Cheng, Y. (2014). A Nonparametric Approach to Estimate Classification Accuracy and Consistency. Journal of Educational Measurement, 51, 318-334.
  • Lathrop, Q. N. (2014). Interactive Decision Support for Refining CAT Item Banks. Presented at the National Council on Measurement in Education Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Lathrop, Q. N. (2014). The Impact of Within-Template Systematic Variation. Presented at the National Council on Measurement in Education Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Xueming (Sylvia) Li, Ed.D.

Dr. Li is a Research Scientist at NWEA, where her research focuses on psychometric issues related to computerized adaptive testing. Her research interests include computer-based testing, applications of item response theory, test validity, cross-cultural assessment, and test score equating. Prior to joining NWEA, Dr. Li completed a doctorate in Research, Educational Measurement, and Psychometrics at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

  • Li, X., & Sireci, S. G. (2013). A new method for analyzing content validity data using multidimensional scaling. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 73(3), 365-385.
  • Crotts, K. M., Zennisky, A. L., Sireci, S. G., & Li, X. (2013). Estimating measurement precision in reduced-length multistage-adaptive testing. Journal of Computerized Adaptive Testing, 1, 67-87.
  • Randall, J., Sireci, S. G., Li, X., & Kaira, L. (2012). Evaluating the comparability of paper-and computer-based math and science tests across sex and SES subgroups. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 31(4), 2-12.

Mike Nesterak, MA

Mike Nesterak, MA, is the Director of Research and Development at NWEA. Mr. Nesterak has over 25 years of experience in the educational assessment industry and has been involved in the development of numerous tests. His areas of expertise are reporting of data, early childhood assessments, and the use of technology in assessment. Prior to joining NWEA, Mr. Nesterak was the Director of Local Client Services at Measured Progress. He holds an MA in School Psychology from Salisbury State University.

James Soland, Ph.D.

Dr. Soland is a Research Scientist at NWEA.  His research focuses on the uses and misuses of test scores to inform education policies impacting students, teachers, and school systems.  Much of that work emphasizes measuring college readiness and policies impacting English learners related to assessment, teacher effectiveness, and best practices.  Prior to joining NWEA, Dr. Soland completed a doctorate in Educational Psychology at Stanford University with a concentration in measurement.  His dissertation was awarded an American Educational Research Association grant and is now in publication.  He has also served as a classroom teacher and Senior Fiscal Analyst at the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), a nonpartisan organization that provides policy analysis to support the California Legislature and general public.

Beth Tarasawa, Ph.D.

Dr. Tarasawa is a Research Scientist at NWEA, where her research focuses on policy issues related to educational equity, particularly those concerning social class, race, and linguistic diversity. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Spencer Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, and American Sociological Association. Dr. Tarasawa holds a Ph.D. in Sociology of Education from Emory University.

Yeow Meng Thum, Ph.D.

Dr. Thum is a Senior Research Fellow pursuing methodological research on multivariate, multilevel models for behavioral and educational data, as well as topics in latent variable modeling, causal inference, and psychometrics. Dr. Thum has contributed to the development of multilevel growth modeling and to the measurement of school and teacher effectiveness. At NWEA, Dr. Thum developed a suite of school productivity indicators as well as the procedures employed in current MAP norming studies, both of which are used to inform instructional and accountability decisions. Dr. Thum’s research has appeared widely, including the Journal of Educational & Behavioral Statistics and the Educational Evaluation & Policy Analysis. Prior to joining NWEA, Dr. Thum has taught advanced courses in educational statistics at the Department of Education at UCLA and the College of Education at Michigan State University. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Shudong Wang, Ph.D.

Dr. Wang is a Senior Research Scientist at NWEA, and his primary research interests include computerized adaptive testing and generalized linear mixed model applications in educational measurement and psychometric research. Prior to joining NWEA, Dr. Wang was a Senior Psychometrician at ETS. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Research Methodology from University of Pittsburgh.

Steven Wise, Ph.D.

Dr. Wise is a Senior Research Fellow whose research focuses primarily on methods for effectively dealing with the measurement problems posed by low examinee effort on achievement tests. Dr. Wise has published extensively in applied measurement, with particular emphases in computer-based testing and the psychology of test taking. In addition, he sits on the editorial board of several academic journals and provides psychometric consultation to a variety of organizations. Dr. Wise was previously the Vice President of Research at NWEA and prior to that, the Director of the Ph.D. Program in Assessment and Measurement at James Madison University. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology / Measurement and Statistics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.