Research & expertise
Our team brings diversity and a breadth of skills, experiences, and perspectives to NWEA research.
Accessibility Research Manager
Elizabeth Barker began her career in education as a middle school and elementary special education teacher, specifically of students with mild-to-moderate disabilities in Michigan and Colorado. She received her doctoral degree with an emphasis on growth trajectories for students with learning disabilities in mathematics and reading comprehension from the University of Oregon. Her current research focuses on how growth trajectories vary among students with visual impairments, deafness and hearing loss, and other disabilities.
Senior Manager, Content & Curriculum Advocacy
Tammy Baumann, PhD, is a senior manager for content and curriculum advocacy, focusing on content quality and alignment initiatives in mathematics. She joined NWEA after being part of the teams at Open Up Resources, Michigan State University, and several local school districts. She brings over 20 years of experience in K–12 education, serving as a teacher, instructional coach, building administrator, and curriculum director. Much of her career has focused on supporting instruction and assessment practices within the math classroom. Tammy has developed product strategy, expanded the portfolio of organizational partnerships, and designed and implemented quality assurance processes. Her experience includes building teams as well as supporting leadership growth. As a consultant, Dr. Baumann has had the opportunity to serve at the local, state, and national levels as a committee member, panelist, or chairman for organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the US Department of Education, NAEP, Achieve, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. She earned a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a focus on the impact of instructional decisions in the elementary mathematics classroom.
Jing Chen leads the psychometric work for the new Nebraska science assessment and supports work for the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) 2025 humanities assessment. Her research interests include automated scoring, human scoring, learning progression-based science assessment design, psychometric modeling, and applications of machine learning in educational assessments. Prior to joining NWEA in 2018, Dr. Chen worked as a senior scientist at Human Resources Research Organization on projects such as validity studies for large-scale assessments and evaluations of state assessments. Before that she worked as a research project manager at Educational Testing Service, where she led research projects to drive improvements in automated and human scoring of constructed responses and contributed to the deployment of automated scoring. Dr. Chen holds a PhD from Michigan State University with dual majors in measurement and quantitative methods and science education.
Director, Content Advocacy and Design
Ted Coe draws on more than 25 years of experience as a teacher, professor, department chair, administrator, and non-profit director to weave together thought-provoking perspectives in mathematics education. He is energetic and passionate about mathematics teaching and learning and has worked full-time as a high school mathematics teacher, a community college faculty member, the mathematics chair at two community colleges, an assistant dean at the university level, and a director of mathematics. As NWEA’s director of content advocacy and design, Ted works to promote high-quality mathematical experiences for all. His work entails advocating for mathematics both within NWEA and around the nation. Ted earned his BAE, MEd, and PhD degrees from Arizona State University, each with a focus on mathematics education.
Topics: Learning standards & alignment
Helena Connolly is a learning scientist whose research focuses on math and science learning, non-routine problem solving, motivation, and teacher adaptivity. Helena primarily conducts experimental and mixed methods research with K-12 students and teachers. As a former elementary school teacher, Helena seeks to understand various pedagogical approaches and how they affect individual learners. Prior to joining NWEA, Helena explored these questions as a research fellow at the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she is a PhD candidate in cognitive science in education.
Senior Research Fellow
John Cronin’s work focuses on helping teachers, administrators, and school board members improve their presentation and use of data in schools. He provides consultation related to testing issues and the use of data to the US Department of Education, Texas Association of School Administrators, New York State Council of School Superintendents, Confederation of Oregon School Administrators, and District Administration Leadership Institute.
Manager, Research Reporting & Data Analytics
Michael Dahlin leads NWEA’s Reporting & Data Analytics team. He specializes in research and reporting on college readiness and school accountability policy. Before joining NWEA, he was a research analyst for the Oregon Department of Human Services. He holds a PhD in developmental psychology from Penn State.
Literacy Director, Content Advocacy and Design
Miah Daughtery is the literacy director of content advocacy and design at NWEA, where she spends her days figuring out how to get kids more excited about reading and writing. An avid and lifelong reader herself, she routinely reads over 50 books a year on all kinds of topics, so she’s dangerous at cocktail parties. Prior to joining NWEA, she was a classroom reading and English teacher for almost 10 years, a district literacy specialist, the state literacy coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Education, the director of literacy for Achieve, and the executive director of professional learning for Odell Education. She earned her BA in English at the University of Michigan, her MEd in reading at Wayne State University, and her EdD in public policy and educational administration from Vanderbilt’s Peabody School of Education in 2016. She believes literacy is an ethical and social justice issue, and she prides herself on finding books for reluctant readers. When she’s not working, you can find Dr. Daughtery thinking and talking about literacy while in her kitchen baking cookies, during a yoga class, or in the airport catching a flight to a place with a beach.
Learning and Assessment Engineer
Garron Gianopulos leads NWEA’s through-year assessment design on GMAP. Dr. Gianopulos has a broad interest in the practical application of IRT in the development of formative, interim, and summative assessments, and his latest research interests have focused on the use of explanatory IRT, structural equation modeling, and data visualization techniques to validate theories of learning. Prior to joining NWEA in 2018, he was a psychometrician at North Carolina State University, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), Professional Testing Inc., and the University of South Florida. While at NCDPI, Dr. Gianopulos led the development of end-of-year and end-of-course summative assessments in mathematics and interim assessments in multiple subjects. As a psychometrician at North Carolina State, he supported the development of formative diagnostic mathematics assessments centered around learning trajectories. Dr. Gianopulos also served on the North Carolina TAC until his transition to NWEA. Dr. Gianopulos holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in educational measurement and evaluation with a cognate in psychometrics from the University of South Florida.
Principal Research Scientist
Wei He develops innovative solutions to enhance existing products such as MAP Growth. Her research is focused on psychometrics, adaptive testing, educational accountability issues, and applied statistics. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Educational Measurement, Educational and Psychological Measurement, and the International Journal of Testing. She is also a frequent presenter at national and international conferences, including NCME, AERA, and IACAT. Dr. He’s publications and presentations cover diverse topics like CAT item selection and item pool design, item field testing and calibration, test equating, missing data treatment, and item equivalence in international assessments. She holds a PhD in measurement and quantitative methods from Michigan State University.
(1963 - 2020)
Andrew Hegedus consulted with education system leaders around the world; prototyped, launched, and supported state-of-the-art reports; and managed research projects focused on understanding the drivers for growth in schools with differing levels of challenges.
Manager, Psychometric Solutions
Ann Hu works mainly on MAP Growth assessments. Her research interests include linking studies between formative and summative assessments, item bank development and maintenance, adaptive testing engines, test security, and norms studies. She has extensive experience in conducting psychometric analyses and research based on Rasch models and IRT, constructing fixed forms and CATs, and designing and conducting standard settings. Prior to joining NWEA in 2017, Dr. Hu worked at Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) on multiple large-scale achievement testing programs for Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, and Minnesota. Dr. Hu holds a doctorate in measurement, evaluation, and cognition from the University of Alberta. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a MEd in educational psychology.
Sukkeun Im leads and supports the state summative team with its psychometric and simulation work. His research interests include response time, response validity, testlets, applications of IRT, and the use of Bayesian statistics for solving practical measurement problems. Prior to joining NWEA in 2017, he was a psychometrician at Questar Assessment, where he led and supported psychometric-related tasks for multiple large state-assessment programs. Dr. Im holds a PhD in educational psychology from the University of Kansas.
Measurement & Psychometrics
Nate Jensen specializes in issues related to the use of student testing data in accountability systems and its application to myriad policy decisions.
Principal Academic Lead
Cindy Jiban, PhD, is principal academic lead, focusing on early learning. She is the lead content designer of MAP Reading Fluency. She supports the development of early numeracy and early literacy, including reading fluency, through NWEA blogs, eBooks, webinars, and externally published articles. Dr. Jiban taught in elementary and middle schools both as a classroom teacher and as a special educator. She earned her PhD in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota, focusing on intervention and assessment for students acquiring foundational academic skills. Her research publications focus on elementary mathematics in the context of Response to Intervention. After contributions at the Research Institute on Progress Monitoring, National Center on Educational Outcomes, and Minnesota Center for Reading Research, Dr. Jiban joined NWEA in 2009.
Jungnam Kim leads the psychometric work for the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS). Her research interests include equating, vertical scaling, and adaptive testing. Prior to joining NWEA in 2017, Dr. Kim worked at CTB/McGraw-Hill for over eight years, where she served as lead research scientist for various state assessment programs including the Georgia Criterion Referenced Competency Tests, Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, North Dakota State Assessments, Colorado Alternate Assessment, and Tests of Adult Basic Education. Dr. Kim holds a PhD in educational measurement from the University of Iowa.
Senior Research Fellow
G. Gage Kingsbury provides advice and development work in the application of technology to practical assessment situations. He designed the first adaptive tests used in educational settings and helped design adaptive tests currently administered to K–12 students throughout the United States and in a wide variety of international schools.
Senior Research Scientist
Susan Kowalski began her career in science education teaching high school physics and physical science in Bloomington, MN. She completed her PhD in curriculum and instruction from the University of Minnesota and the spent several years developing and researching curricula and professional learning experiences at BSCS Science Learning. Her current work investigates new approaches to three-dimensional assessment in support of the Next Generation Science Standards. She is focused on how teachers might learn to more effectively use assessment data to inform their day-to-day science instruction and enhance equitable learning opportunities for students.
Spanish Solution Lead
Teresa Krastel, PhD, is the Spanish solution lead at NWEA. A linguist by training, she brings over 10 years of experience in assessment and educational publishing and 15 years of teaching experience at the middle and high school, undergraduate, and graduate levels. Teresa earned her doctorate in Hispanic literatures and linguistics, with a focus on second language acquisition, applied linguistics, bilingualism, and dialectology. Teresa and the Spanish team hope to engage further with Spanish MAP Growth and Spanish MAP Reading Fluency partners to understand their use cases and needs and to improve test quality. She is passionate about creating culturally responsive, native Spanish-language assessments to help ensure access and accuracy in measuring the growth of native Spanish-speaking children and seeks to promote advocacy and equity for English language learners.
Senior Research Scientist
Megan Kuhfeld seeks to understand students’ trajectories of academic and social-emotional learning and the school and neighborhood influences that promote optimal growth.
Meredith Langi specializes in educational measurement and latent variable modeling and is particularly interested in how assessments can support classroom instruction. Prior to joining NWEA, Dr. Langi supported psychometrics for the English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA21). She also served as a teacher and resource specialist with the Peace Corps in Tonga. Dr. Langi holds a PhD in social research methodology and an MS in statistics from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as an EdM in international education policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Senior Research Scientist
Kat’s research interests include authentic, phenomenon-based learning experiences in science classrooms. She is especially interested in developing and using learning progressions to support and assess students’ competence with scientific practices, such as modeling and explaining scientific phenomena. Kat completed her PhD in chemistry and MA in educational measurement and statistics at the University of Iowa. Prior to joining NWEA, Kat worked in discipline-based education research, primarily in chemistry contexts, at San Diego State University and the University of Iowa.
Jonghwan (Jay) Lee leads NWEA’s adaptive constraint engine work for state summative assessments, including preparing the engine, running simulations, and validating and improving the engine’s performance. Dr. Lee’s research interests include subscore reporting, the impact of technology-enhanced items on student assessment performance, item pool management for computerized adaptive testing (CAT), and score compatibility on CAT across administrations. Prior to joining NWEA in 2017, he worked as a senior psychometrician at Questar Assessment, where he conducted all psychometric-related tasks for various state assessment programs including item analysis, calibration and equating, standard setting, psychometric guidelines for form construction, and the creation of annual technical reports. Dr. Lee holds a PhD in measurement and quantitative methods from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical computer engineering from the Ohio State University.
Measurement & Psychometrics
Senior Research Scientist
Karyn Lewis brings expertise in social psychology, quantitative methods, and data visualization to the research she leads and supports. Her research interests focus on the interplay between students’ academic growth and achievement, their social-emotional development and well-being, and how they experience their school’s climate. Prior to joining NWEA, she was a senior researcher at Education Northwest where she led a diverse portfolio of applied research, technical assistance, and evaluation projects centered around social and emotional learning.
Xueming (Sylvia) Li focuses on psychometric issues related to MAP Growth. Her research interests include computer-based testing, applications of IRT, test validity, cross-cultural assessment, and test score linking and equating. Prior to joining NWEA in 2015, she received a doctoral degree in research, educational measurement, and psychometrics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Tyler Matta is motived to improve the tools used for educational decision making to support the building of equitable educational systems. His work spans computational psychometrics, learning theory, and education policy.
Andrew McEachin’s work focuses on helping policymakers and educators make informed decisions about the design and implementation of educational policies, so that data and policies may better support student learning and more equitable opportunities and outcomes for all students.
Senior Director, Psychometric Solutions
Patrick Meyer manages the team of psychometricians, statistical analysts, and project managers involved in the district division of NWEA. This team conducts psychometric research for assessments such as MAP Growth and MAP Reading Fluency. His research interests include IRT, psychometric software design, and the psychometric characteristics of teaching measures. Dr. Meyer is the inventor and lead developer of jMetrik, an open-source software program used in over 20 countries. He has authored two books and published over 20 articles in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Educational Measurement, Applied Psychological Measurement, and Educational and Psychological Measurement. He has conducted 25 standard-setting workshops in the licensure and certification field, as well as numerous workshops on psychometric theory and the use of jMetrik for data analysis. Prior to joining NWEA in 2018, Dr. Meyer worked as an associate professor with tenure in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, where he taught courses in educational measurement and applied statistics. He began his academic career in 2004 as an assistant professor at James Madison University’s Center for Assessment and Research Studies. Dr. Meyer holds a PhD in educational psychology and research from the University of South Carolina.
Emily Morton specializes in using quantitative methodologies to examine academic and developmental impacts of policies and programs on students. Her research interests center around estimating the effects of K-12 education policies and programs related to school schedules, instructional time, and learning environments on student achievement and youth development, and understanding the processes involved in promoting positive youth and human development across the lifespan.
Tiffany Peltier brings expertise in dyslexia, teacher training, special education policy and practice, as well as early reading assessment, instruction, intervention, and difficulties. Her research focuses on deploying interventions aligned with conceptual change theory to dispel common misconceptions and help stakeholders better understand research-based information. Her passion is to find creative ways to disseminate current research findings in order to minimize the research to practice gap in reading.
Fang Peng works with the MAP Reading Fluency assessment. Among her interests and areas of expertise are computerized adaptive testing, measurement validity, early childhood development, and applications of natural language processing and machine learning in assessment contexts. Prior to joining NWEA in 2022, Fang worked as a psychometrician at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing where she gained extensive operational and research experience in large-scale licensure examinations. Fang holds a PhD in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics, and Assessment from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Measurement & Psychometrics
Senior Data Analyst, Research Reporting & Data Analystics
Alexis Prijoles is a senior data analyst on the NWEA Reporting & Data Analytics team. She specializes in developing processes for data management. Before joining NWEA, she was a research specialist at the University of Virginia. She holds a BS in mathematical sciences from Clemson University and an MEd in Educational Psychology – Research, Statistics, and Evaluation from the University of Virginia.
Content Design and Development Lead
Mary Resanovich is a content design and development lead who has been with NWEA since 2011, working on both item and test design. Her current focus is helping educators use MAP Growth data to make instructional decisions through our curriculum partnerships. Mary and the curriculum partnership team work with NWEA’s instructional content provider partners to ensure the appropriate use of MAP Growth data to inform student learning paths, teacher resources, and data visualizations. She is committed to maintaining the integrity of NWEA’s assessments, data, and partner communication. In addition to working at NWEA, Mary has 10 years of experience in educational publishing, and she was both an elementary education teacher and a K–6 gifted and talented specialist.
Senior Research Scientist
Erik Ruzek’s research focuses on how classroom and school processes shape student engagement, motivation, and learning. As an educational psychologist, his work emphasizes the measurement of students’ subjective experiences of their classrooms and school. He combines student-reported experiential data with classroom observations, teacher reports, and direct assessments to identify the essential features of teacher-student and student-peer interactions that engage and motivate students.
Manager, Psychometric Solutions
Mary Ann Simpson is the lead psychometrician for MAP Reading Fluency. Her areas of expertise include IRT, linking and equating, Bayesian statistics, growth modeling, and factor analysis. Her current research involves the design of cognitive models for automatic item generation and the psychometric properties of such items. Prior to joining NWEA in 2018, Dr. Simpson worked in K–12 psychometrics for nearly 15 years. She holds a master’s degree in developmental psychology and a PhD in educational measurement from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Affiliated Research Fellow
James Soland’s research focuses on assessment and evaluation policy and practice. Particular areas of emphasis include measuring social-emotional learning (SEL), test engagement, and estimating teacher and school effectiveness.
Executive VP of Research
Beth Tarasawa is relentlessly committed to using data-driven insights to transform education and eliminate structural barriers to achieve equitable outcomes for all students.
Senior Research Fellow
Yeow Meng Thum focuses on methodological research on multivariate, multilevel models for behavioral and educational data, with a strong emphasis on methods for describing growth and change, as well as on topics in latent variable modeling, causal inference, and psychometrics.
Shudong Wang focuses on product design and development, including psychometric development of MAP Reading Fluency and MAP Growth Spanish Reading. His research interests include adaptive testing and generalized linear mixed-model applications in educational measurement and psychometric research. Dr. Wang has published over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He has presented at numerous conferences, including NCME, AERA, and CCSSO, on topics such as CAT item selection and quality of student scoring, effects of CAT designs on content coverage and efficiency, and accuracy of student ability estimations. Prior to joining NWEA in 2009, he was a senior psychometrician at ETS. Dr. Wang holds a PhD in educational research methodology from the University of Pittsburgh.
Donny Williams is a research scientist with over five years of experience in advanced statistical methodology, including mixed models, causal inference and time series, meta-analysis, and Bayesian statistics. He specializes in developing statistical software for solving problems in the social-behavioral sciences. He is the author of 30 peer-reviewed publications, including high-impact work appearing in prestigious quantitative journals such as Psychological Methods and Multivariate Behavior Research. Donny is a PhD candidate in quantitative psychology at the University of California, Davis.
Topics: Growth modeling
Senior Research Fellow
Steven Wise has published extensively during the past three decades in applied measurement, with particular emphases in computer-based testing and the psychology of test taking.
Manager, Content Design and Development
Adam Withycombe began his career in education as a classroom teacher and enjoyed working in a variety of roles. He spent four years as a bilingual (Spanish) third- and fifth-grade teacher in Oregon and Washington; a year as a talented and gifted coordinator and ELA/social studies teacher at a middle school in Washington; and four years as a third- and fifth-grade teacher in Tennessee. Adam also taught graduate courses on English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) methodology. In 2014 he received his doctoral degree in educational leadership with a dissertation on the relationship between English language proficiency and academic achievement and growth in reading from the University of Oregon. His current efforts as manager of content design and development lie at the intersection of instruction, education policy, item and test design, and score interpretation, with an interest in special populations. He presents regularly at conferences and has delivered guest lectures on test design and interpretation, challenges associated with translation and transadaptation of assessment content between languages, and balanced assessment systems that support English learners.
Kang Xue works with the MAP Reading Fluency assessment. His research interest centers on the intersection of psychometrics, machine learning, data science, and artificial intelligence. His interdisciplinary background allows him to borrow some ideas from machine learning and apply them to psychometric models, such as IRT and CDM, with the hope of better handling complex assessment data. Dr. Xue joined NWEA in 2020 after obtaining a PhD in educational psychology from the University of Georgia. Dr. Xue holds another doctoral degree in electrical engineering, and he served as a senior research engineer at Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (Advanced Technology Lab) from 2013 to 2015.