Paul Nichols, PhD

Director, Assessment Design

Paul Nichols oversees the new Nebraska science assessment and the through-year test design work. Dr. Nichols has extensive experience leading framework, development, and design work for various assessment products throughout his career. Current research projects include exploring the lens that different test users employ to evaluate the relevance of validity evidence and extending principled assessment design to address the needs of intended test users.

Prior to joining NWEA in 2019, Dr. Nichols worked at ACT where he led the following four departments in ACT research: industrial organizational psychology; learning sciences, analytics and navigation; social, emotional, and academic learning; and validity and efficacy. While at ACT, Dr. Nichols developed a feasibility-driven design approach to new products based on a design science framework, the purpose of which is to engineer products for efficacy and validity. Prior to ACT, he worked in the Center for Next Generation Learning and Assessment at Pearson and at the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment. He has authored numerous publications and reports, specializing in writing about and researching the design of assessments targeting complex thinking. Dr. Nichols holds a PhD and an MA in educational psychology from the University of Iowa.