Achievement & Assessment Institute

Our Staff


Meagan Karvonen

Director of ATLAS

Dr. Meagan Karvonen leads the Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM®), I-SMART, and 5E-SESE projects. She holds a degree in educational research and measurement and has 20 years of experience in inclusive large-scale assessments. Karvonen also has more than 20 years of experience managing externally funded projects, including serving as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on projects totaling more than $50 million. She has co-authored more than 200 articles, book chapters, technical reports, and presentations.

Russell Swinburne Romine

Associate Director of ATLAS

Dr. Russell Swinburne Romine oversees assessment and learning map model development projects. He leads multiple teams responsible for the design, development, and delivery of large-scale assessments grounded in principles of Evidence-Centered Design and Universal Design for Learning. Additionally, Swinburne Romine is the principal investigator or co-investigator on multiple research and development projects focused on improving instruction and academic outcomes for students with and without disabilities. He presents research nationally and co-authors publications and technical reports on multiple ATLAS projects. Swinburne Romine earned his doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota with a focus on reading comprehension and large-scale assessment.

Michael Muenks

Associate Director for Implementation

Michael Muenks, M.S., manages the teams, within ATLAS, supporting the implementation of the grants, the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP), and the DLM Alternate Assessment System in all DLM partner states. This includes supervising staff who develop manuals, test administrator training, and the DLM website content; a team of implementation coordinators that provide technical assistance to state partners; and staff who manage timelines and deliverables for consortium groups including the governing board and the DLM Technical Advisory Committee.

In addition, Muenks works with contracts, the requests for proposals, state technical advisory committees, data security, and technology system feature specifications and testing.

Brooke Nash

Associate Director for Psychometrics

Dr. Brooke Nash brings more than 12 years of experience in the assessment industry, both operationally and in conducting research to help inform operational assessment programs. She earned her doctoral degree in educational psychology and research from the University of Kansas, specializing in research, evaluation, measurement, and statistics with a minor in special education. Prior to returning to KU, she spent several years working as a psychometrician and lead psychometrician at an assessment company, specializing in assessments in the higher education field. Nash leads teams of psychometricians who conduct the psychometric and statistical work for multiple large-scale assessments as well as contributes to various research and development projects within the center. Her research interests include formative assessment, scoring models for technology-enabled assessments, implementation of diagnostic assessment platforms, and assessment of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Amy Clark

Associate Director for Operational Research

Dr. Amy Clark leads researchers and psychometricians who conduct studies and produce technical documentation in support of the ATLAS research agenda. She began her career as a classroom teacher and developed an interest in teachers' use of assessment results for improving student outcomes. Clark received both her M.S. and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Kansas, specializing in research, evaluation, measurement, and statistics with a minor in curriculum studies. Clark brings more than 12 years of experience working to improve outcomes for struggling learners and their teachers. Her research interests include assessment validation, score reporting, and operationalizing diagnostic assessment systems. She has coauthored more than 75 books, chapters, technical reports, journal articles, and conference papers on applied educational measurement topics.

Sarah Koebley

Associate Director of Professional Learning

Dr. Koebley, as the Associate Director of Professional Learning, leads the ATLAS Center’s strategic initiatives around professional learning and in support of high quality educator resources. She earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Kent State University with a focus on mathematics education and research on mathematics teacher interpretations of social capital. She has more than 20 years of experience in STEM-based instructional design, inquiry-focused teaching and learning, assessment development, STEM community engagement, and educator professional development.


Christa Reida

Project Manager Lead

Ms. Reida previously worked with the Inclusive Large Scale Standards and Assessment Group (ILSSA) at the University of Kentucky for seven years. While at ILSSA, she worked to develop, administer, and score alternate assessments. Before entering the alternate assessment field, Reida worked as a middle school and high school teacher in science, math, and physical education in Kansas and then in California. She holds a Bachelor of Science in education from Pittsburg State University.

Nancy Keating

Project Manager

Nancy Keating served the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from 2007 to 2015, the last three years of which she spent leading the state in implementing the DLM alternate assessment. Keating has more than 13 years of experience working for a national Fortune 500 company in the education sector, including work as a project manager leading an international team in solving complex technological issues. She has previously worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services with children from family backgrounds of severe abuse and neglect as well as with the Peoria (IL) Public Library recording books, periodicals, and resources for blind and physically disabled patrons.

Ronda Layman

Project Manager

Ronda Layman has worked in the field of special education for over 30 years. During that time, she has worked as a speech language pathologist, special education teacher, program coordinator as well as the state consultant for students with significant and multiple disabilities and assistive technology for North Carolina. Layman worked closely with the North Carolina Accountability Division on the alternate assessment. She assisted in writing the DLM Essential Elements as well as the alternate content standards for North Carolina. Currently, she is a Research Project Manager/Implementation Coordinator with the DLM alternate assessment and serves on the design and implementation team for the Shared Writing Instructional Model grant project.

Alson Cole

Research Project Manager

Mr. Cole earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Georgetown College and a second Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from Midway University. He also has a Master of Education degree from Xavier University with an emphasis in educational administration. He began his career in education as a classroom teacher but has spent the past decade working in the alternate assessment field. He worked for the ILSSA group at the University of Kentucky and then for ACERI Partners, LLC as an educational consultant, creating trainings for teachers and scorers, while also providing instructional content guidance in English Language Arts, mathematics, and science. He also has experience as both an item writer and reviewer.

Lisa Weeks

Project Manager

Ms. Weeks supports ATLAS by overseeing project management activities for the implementation team. She identifies the annual scope of work, outlines project plans, and monitors project progress, timelines, and deliverables. Additionally, she collaborates with Center personnel to proactively identify challenges and recommend solutions in support of program initiatives and process improvements. Ms. Weeks earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management and gained diverse experience through her work in retail, manufacturing, and service industries before coming to the University of Kansas.

Alicia Cuttle

Project Manager

Ms. Cuttle previously worked for Measured Progress based in Dover, New Hampshire for just over 16 years. She oversaw a portfolio of large-scale alternate assessment programs, leading teams to ensure effective implementation, administration, training, and scoring and reporting. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), holds a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology from Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University. She is passionate about working to improve outcomes for students and teachers. As a Rotarian and community volunteer for local schools, she manages a program to improve literacy.

Susan LeFeber

Project Manager

Ms. LeFeber is a Research Project Manager for ATLAS and has prior experience in this field. As a Program/Project Manager, she oversaw state contracts for licensure and certification as well as K-12 large-scale general and alternate assessment programs. LeFeber also holds a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.

Aletra Johnson

Project Manager

Ms. Johnson is a Research Project Manager for ATLAS and has a bachelor’s degree in management. She previously worked as a technical writer, quality assurance specialist, trainer, and on the software release implementation team for a large banking solutions company. Ms. Johnson has over 20 years of customer service experience which eventually led her to work for the service desk at Agile Technology Solutions (ATS). During her time with ATS, she worked with various teams including training and documentation, business analysis, quality assurance, test operations, and leading small technical projects while supervising daily operations for the service desk.

Tammy Mayer

Project Manager

Tammy Mayer has worked in the field of special education for over 25 years as a special education teacher and a state education agency policymaker for the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. As North Dakota’s Deputy Director of Assessment, she led the state in the implementation of the DLM Alternate Assessment System, as well as activities regarding North Dakota’s standard assessment, accessibility, accommodations, special education, personalized learning, and innovative education. Mayer earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary/special education, a master’s degree in special education from Minot State University, and a doctorate in education from the University of North Dakota. 

Test Development/Test Production/Maps

Marjorie Wine

Assistant Director for Test Development

Marjorie Wine manages development for both the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP) and the DLM Alternate Assessment System. She has roughly 20 years of experience as a professional in assessment. Wine brings experience working on both the client and vendor sides of large-scale assessment development, in addition to her work scoring, developing rubrics, and creating content for score reporting. She was the Principal Test Development Manager for the GED Test, overseeing its complete re-design and alignment to next-generation curricular standards for its re-launch in 2014. As part of that work, Wine created a new development process for all four content areas, from building and validating assessment target frameworks to the launch of the operational test. Immediately before joining ATLAS, she was the content manager for the state assessments department at AdvancEd/Measured Progress. As the content manager, she oversaw item and test development for multiple content areas on a variety of state contracts. Her practice and research interests focus on using ECD principals and elements of organizational learning to develop best practices for assessment development that raise the profile of validity through every stage of assessment development.

Holly Dubiel

Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator

Holly Dubiel specializes in the English language arts (ELA) content area. Her previous work for the Enhanced Learning Maps project included developing the ELA portion of the learning map model and directing the development and implementation of the Student Locater Tool. For ATLAS, she will continue her work with the learning map. She taught secondary ELA courses for 13 years prior to joining the Achievement and Assessment Institute. Dubiel received a bachelor’s degree in secondary language arts education, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, and a master’s degree in educational technology from the University of Kansas. 

Allison Barkley

Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator

Allison Barkley is a mathematics test development coordinator with ATLAS. She leads the content and test development of the mathematics assessments for the Kansas Assessment Program. Barkley earned her bachelor’s degree in education with emphases in French and mathematics and her master’s degree in education in curriculum and instruction with emphasis in mathematics from the University of Kansas. Prior to joining the Achievement and Assessment Institute, Barkley was a middle school and high school French and mathematics teacher.

Mary Beth Woodson

ELA Test Development Coordinator, KAP

Dr. Mary Beth Woodson earned her doctorate in film and media studies from the University of Kansas, where she taught undergraduate film classes. Her research interests include environmental memory, history, and the representation of non-human animals in film.

Courtney Woodke

Special Projects Coordinator

Courtney Woodke started her career teaching special education for nine years before joining ATLAS. She taught elementary, middle, and high school working with students of varying levels of disabilities. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Montana State University in elementary education and special education. Later, Woodke earned her master's degree in education leadership from Western Governors University. Her passion is nearly anything involving progress for students, teachers, and staff involved in special education. 

Zachary Hopper

ELA Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator

Zachary Hopper leads ELA test development efforts for the DLM alternate assessment. Before joining ATLAS, Hopper taught mathematics and English in Kansas City, Missouri. He holds an M.A. in philosophy from Georgia State University and an M.Ed. in secondary education from the University of Missouri – St. Louis. Hopper is currently pursuing his PhD in educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Kansas. His research interests include the ethics of education, social/political philosophy, and bioethics.

Lindsay Ruhter

Research Associate

Ms. Ruhter currently serves as a research associate for 5E-SESE (5E-Model Professional Development in Science Education for Special Educators). Prior, she was a test development coordinator for the Dynamic Learning Maps Alternate Assessment Consortium, where she used her special education background to coordinate the design and delivery of the science assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Ms. Ruhter also served on I-SMART’s assessment design team and lead the development of innovative test items, as well as supported development of the learning map model. Before joining DLM, Ms. Ruhter was a special education teacher in Virginia, where she taught students with mild to moderate disabilities and students with significant cognitive disabilities. Ms. Ruhter earned a master’s degree in special education at the College of William and Mary and is currently a doctoral student in Special Education at the University of Kansas.

Jonathan Schuster

ELA Research Lead

Dr. Jonathan Schuster earned his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Kansas. His research interests include the cognitive processes involved in reading comprehension and psycholinguistics with a specific focus on reading development. His current interests have concentrated on the impact of text complexity on reading comprehension and acquisition of the critical skills involved in writing development for students with significant cognitive disabilities and with intellectual disabilities. Schuster currently helps to develop the content of the writing learning map neighborhoods to be used in the Dynamic Learning Maps alternate assessment and in the Shared Writing Instructional Model (SWIM) project. 

Dale Cope

Research Project Director

Dr. Cope is the Project Director for the Enhanced Learning Maps. She has extensive experience in project management and evaluation, including work on large-scale projects for universities and state education agencies. Cope earned her doctorate in educational leadership and business administration from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She also holds a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Puget Sound. Her previous work experience includes middle and high school teaching, high school principal, and executive director for curriculum and assessment in a large urban school district.

Michelle Shipman

Test Development Lead

Michelle Shipman leads the test development team in the design, development, and delivery of large-scale assessments for English language arts, mathematics, and science for the Dynamic Learning Maps® (DLM®) Alternate Assessment System. She specializes in content development for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities using the learning map models, principles of Evidence-Centered Design, and Universal Design for Learning. Shipman is a member of the assessment design team for the Innovations in Science Map, Assessment and Report Technologies (I-SMART) where she led the design and development of innovative assessment items for students with and without disabilities. Her research has included the design of large-scale writing assessments to develop comprehensive literacy for students with the most significant disabilities, and principles of Evidence-Centered Design and Universal Design for Learning in assessment development. Shipman earned her bachelor's degree in education with emphases in science and English from Washburn University. Prior to joining ATLAS, Shipman was a middle school science and English language arts teacher.

Emily Thatcher

Research Project Manager, Shared Writing Instructional Model (SWIM)

Emily Thatcher has 30 years of experience serving families and students with disabilities, mostly students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Prior to joining KU, Emily was the Alternate Assessment Consultant for the state of Iowa. She has also served as the project lead and developer of professional development for the significant disabilities focus area of an Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) funded, state personnel development grant, the state coordinator for National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), and the lead consultant of implementation teams that support educators and deliver high quality specially designed instruction and assessment.

Teri Millar

Research Project Coordinator

Teri Millar is a research project coordinator for the ATLAS Dynamic Learning Maps Test Production team. Teri joined the DLM Production team in 2013 where she specialized in data entry and creation of test forms for the online alternate assessments. Ms. Millar now leads the Production team in tracking and managing data across all content areas of the DLM alternate assessment and coordinates the production and deployment of test forms for DLM and I-SMART assessments. Before joining ATLAS, Ms. Millar was a student at the University of Kansas where she earned her BFA in visual arts.

Eun Mi Kim

Math Research Lead

Dr. Eun Mi Kim currently supports the design and development work for the DLM mathematics learning maps, associated assessments, and instructional resources. Dr. Kim earned a doctorate in mathematics education from Michigan State University. Her research interests include mathematics knowledge development with a focus on the creation of developmental progressions of student learning and understanding of mathematics, the development of curriculum and assessment to enhance students’ mathematics achievement, and the use of educational technology to enrich teaching and learning. Before joining the ATLAS team, she was a consultant at Educational Testing Services, where she led the development of research-based learning progressions and cognitive tasks.

Jessie Lancaster

Test Development Coordinator

Jessie Lancaster worked for a year as a test development assistant on the mathematics team before moving into the coordinator position. Prior to working for ATLAS, Lancaster taught general education at the elementary level for 10 years. She obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Kansas. 

Mitch McCann

Test Development Coordinator

Mr. McCann is a Test Development Coordinator for science with ATLAS. Previously, McCann worked in elementary education in Kansas City Public Schools as a classroom teacher. He has experience with students with trauma and development during early childhood. McCann’s research has included assistive technology for students with autism, trauma’s impact on students, diverse learning styles, cognition and visual attention. He has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and M.A. in Education from the University of Missouri – St. Louis.

Casey Williams

Science Research Lead

Dr. Casey Williams earned his doctorate from Texas Tech University in educational psychology with an emphasis in developmental and learning sciences. He also earned his master’s degree in educational psychology from Texas Tech University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Kansas. His research interests include climate change education, general science education, and engineering education. As a former high school science teacher, Dr. Williams seeks to identify and remedy barriers science teachers face inside and outside the classroom

Jess Deselms

Research Project Manager

Ms. Deselms is a Research Project Manager for the ATLAS Learning Maps team. In collaboration with senior researchers from a variety of backgrounds, she manages multiple projects related to the design, development, and review of learning map models. Before joining ATLAS, Ms. Deselms was an HR Learning Analyst with PepsiCo University. She received both her M.A. in clinical psychology and M.A. in industrial and organizational psychology from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She often pulls from both areas to meet organizational goals yet maintains focus on the individuals she works with and for. She is passionate about people and leader development with experience in learning and development, interpersonal communication, and process improvement to boost organizational effectiveness.

Chelsea Bohnstedt

Research Project Coordinator

Chelsea Bohnstedt is a Research Project Coordinator for the ATLAS Learning Maps team and the Shared Writing Instructional Model (SWIM) grant. She earned both a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in social work from the University of Kansas and is currently a doctoral student in instructional design at Baker University. Prior to joining ATLAS, Ms. Bohnstedt was a special education social worker in K-12 schools.

Research & Psychometrics

Jennifer Kobrin

Research and Evaluation Lead

Dr. Jennifer Kobrin, Research and Evaluation Lead, leads and contributes to ATLAS’ research and development projects. She earned her Ed.D. in educational statistics and measurement from Rutgers University and a master’s degree in educational research and evaluation from Boston College. Before joining ATLAS, she was a senior research scientist at Pearson and a research scientist at the College Board. She also spent three years directing institutional effectiveness and assessment offices in higher education. Her research interests include teachers’ use of formative assessment for instructional improvement, assessment development based on cognitive learning models, and assessment validity. She has co-authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, technical reports, and conference papers on a variety of topics in educational measurement and assessment.

Jake Thompson

Senior Psychometrician

Dr. Thompson, a senior psychometrician, leads the modeling research agenda for ATLAS. He received his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Kansas, with a concentration in research, evaluation, measurement, and statistics. His research interests include diagnostic classification models, Bayesian estimation of psychometric models, R programming for software development, and integrating diagnostic assessments into applied research.

Brianna Beitling

Psychometrician Assistant

Bio coming soon.

Joyce Wang

Lead Psychometrician

Dr. Wang, a lead psychometrician with ATLAS, earned her Ph.D. in educational research methodology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She previously served as senior psychometric advisor in the assessment division at ETS K-12, where she led psychometric activities for large-scale K-12 state assessment programs. She specialized in English language proficiency assessments and vertical scaling. Her research interests include English assessment for young learners and technology enhanced assessments for English learners.

Wenhao Wang

Senior Psychometrician

Dr. Wang, a senior psychometrician with ATLAS, earned her Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Kansas, specializing in research, evaluation, measurement, and statistics and with a minor in mathematics. She has extensive experience as a psychometrician working with state and national large-scale assessment programs. Her research interests include item-model fit, computer adaptive testing, and advanced psychometric model fit comparison.

Jie Chen


Dr. Chen, a psychometrician with ATLAS, earned her Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Kansas, specializing in research, evaluation, measurement, and statistics. She previously worked as a program development associate at ACT, Inc., where she worked closely with the test development team in test form construction by providing psychometric support. Her research interests include topics in instructional sensitivity of test items, Montessori education, rater effect, English language proficiency, and accountability issues.

Noelle Pablo

Psychometrician Assistant

Ms. Pablo, a psychometrician assistant with ATLAS, received her B.S. in Statistics from California Polytechnic State University in 2018. During college she worked on research projects regarding simulation-based statistical inference in flipped classrooms and R package development. Her interests include statistical programming, data analytics, and statistics education.

Aaron Gates

Project Coordinator

Bio coming soon.

Liz Kavitsky

Research Project Specialist

Ms. Kavitsky received her Master of Fine Arts in writing from Carlow University and has a strong background in writing, editing, and literary research. Kavitsky works at ATLAS, contributing to proposal development and supporting research dissemination efforts across multiple projects.

Other Staff

Annie Hunt

Business Manager

Ms. Hunt oversees the financial and operational management of the center. She coordinates with various teams to develop, evaluate, and refine processes for managing the ATLAS budget. Ms. Hunt obtained her bachelor of science in recreation administration from California State University, Sacramento and gained experience in financial and operational management through her work in local government.

Mari Langas

Technology Project Manager

Ms. Langas is a Technology Project Manager for ATLAS. Working with various teams in the center, she serves as the liaison between ATLAS and Agile Technology Solutions to define, prioritize, and support development of technology project deliverables. Ms. Langas earned her master’s degree in information systems management from the University of Phoenix and has nearly 15 years of experience managing technology project requirements. Prior to joining ATLAS, Ms. Langas worked as a senior business analyst with Agile Technology Solutions.

Gail Tiemann

Co-principal Investigator and Project Manager, I-SMART

Dr. Gail Tiemann oversees overall project implementation and co-leads the Innovations in Science Map, Assessment & Report Technologies (I-SMART) leadership and research teams. She recently served as co-director of a statewide summative assessment program, directing the development, administration, and score reporting of next-generation assessments in English language arts, mathematics, and science. Previously, Tiemann directed the development and validation of performance tasks for the Career Pathways Assessment program and coordinated the development of the Adaptive Reading Motivation Measures. Tiemann earned a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Kansas, specializing in research, evaluation, measurement, and statistics. She has 20 years of experience in managing federal program activities, including facilitation of multiple partners, data collection and analysis, resource development, and reporting. Her research has included topics in validity evaluation, test security, innovative item types, educational technology, and culturally responsive assessment and evaluation.