Achievement & Assessment Institute

Our Staff

Leadership

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

Bio coming soon.

Implementation

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.

Mary Matthew

Director, Kansas Assessment Program

Ms. Matthew is the director of the Kansas Assessment Program (KAP). She began her career as a teacher and developed an interest in assessment when she was selected to help lead a statewide initiative in Kansas on classroom assessment under the direction of Kansas State Department of Education, Council of Chief State School Officers, and Kansas National Education Association. Prior to joining the Achievement and Assessment Institute, Matthew was the Director of Assessment, School Improvement, and Research for a large school district in Kansas. During her 34-year career in public education, she was recognized as the Kansas Assessment Coordinator of the Year by the Kansas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development along with district nomination for being a master teacher. Matthew is known for her expertise in assessment, professional development, and being an advocate for Kansas schools. She has served on a variety of professional committees at the KSDE over her career and is well known in the field for her work on test security and ethics. Matthew received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in special education from Kansas State University, and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Kansas.

Nancy Keating

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.

Sheila Wells-Moreaux

Dr. Sheila Wells-Moreaux is a former special education teacher. She earned her Ed.D. in educational leadership and innovation from Arizona State University. Before coming to the University of Kansas, Wells-Moreaux worked at the Arizona Department of Education as the alternate assessment coordinator. Her research focuses on students with special needs who are also English language learners.

Ronda Layman

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.

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, Rodgers 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.

Natalie Nordby Chen

Curriculum and Assessment Manager

Natalie Nordby Chen guides activities that create, support, and strengthen ATLAS test programs. Her 25 years of professional experience include developing a wide range of assessment products, conducting item-writing and rater-training workshops, serving on professional review panels, mapping test specifications to governmental standards, participating on research teams for both organizational and grant-funded projects, and authoring academic articles and chapters. As a former classroom teacher, she is committed to ensuring access for all learners.

Lindsay Ruhter

Ms. Ruhter currently serves as a research project coordinator 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

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

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

Ms. Shipman serves on the assessment design team and supervises the development of Essential Element Concept Maps and preparations for item writing and external review. Ms. Shipman has served as the ELA test development coordinator for the Dynamic Learning Maps Consortium since 2012 and is also the test development lead for all ATLAS-delivered alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards. Ms. Shipman’s research involves text development for reading assessments and the design of writing assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities to further their literacy skills. Ms. Shipman's 20-year teaching career included teaching science and language arts classes. She earned a BA in education from Washburn University with emphases in English and science.

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

Bio coming soon.

Eun Mi Kim

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

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. His 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.

Jess Deselms

Ms. Deselms is a Research Project Coordinator 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. Additionally, she coordinates work for the Shared Writing Instructional Model (SWIM) grant. 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.

Research & Psychometrics

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.

Chelsea Nehler

Dr. Nehler, a psychometrician with ATLAS, earned her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she focused on quantitative psychology and physical and socioemotional development in middle childhood. Prior to joining ATLAS, she worked with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute on a large-scale psychometric evaluation of the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-3). Her research interests include potential threats to validity, evaluating measurement invariance across groups and through time, and leveraging qualitative data to inform assessment.

Brianna Beitling

Bio coming soon.

Joyce Wang

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

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

Bio coming soon.

Liz Kavitsky

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 Jatala

Business Manager

Ms. Jatala 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. Jatala obtained her bachelor of science in recreation administration from California State University, Sacramento. She 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 18 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.


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