About the WWC iconKey Staff
Joshua R. Polanin, Ph.D
Project Director, 2018 - present

Dr. Joshua R. Polanin is the director of the American Institutes for Research’s (AIR’s) WWC Statistics, Website, and Training (SWAT) contract. He has extensive experience in quantitative methodology, leading or co-leading 14 peer-reviewed, published meta-analyses. Dr. Polanin has served in many roles for the WWC across the postsecondary and R2D2 contracts, including: reviewer of individual studies, trainer and communications lead, quality control lead, and deputy director. Dr. Polanin is also the co-principal investigator of two IES-funded grants, a training grant on conducting meta-analyses as well as a large-scale review of college aid programs. He is the PI of two National Institute of Justice-funded grants synthesizing research related to preventing school violence.

Lisa Shimmel, M.P.P
Deputy Project Director, 2018 - present

Lisa Shimmel is the co-deputy director of AIR’s WWC contract. In her role, Shimmel manages the IT and communications work to support WWC use. She has extensive experience with project management and communications for federal grants and contracts. Shimmel is the director of the IES College Completion Network Lead and the deputy director of the Midwest Comprehensive Center. She previously served as the dissemination lead for REL Midwest. In this role, Shimmel oversaw efforts to share research evidence with practitioners in easy-to-digest formats such as infographics, videos, events, and public television programs. Shimmel also has previous teaching experience at the high school level.

Sarah Caverly, Ph.D.
Deputy Project Director, 2018 - present

Dr. Sarah Caverly is the co-deputy director of AIR’s WWC contract. In her role, Dr. Caverly manages tasks related to standards, procedures, training, and quality. She is a WWC-certified reviewer and has more than 15 years of experience in program evaluation, data analysis, and technical assistance. Dr. Caverly serves as the principal investigator a low-cost RCT funded by the Arnold foundation examining the impact of an early literacy tutoring program. She is a co-principal investigator on two grants funded by the Office of Innovation and Improvement, and an IES-funded research grant. Dr. Caverly was a member of the REL Southwest leadership team, overseeing a portfolio of training, coaching, and technical support projects for state and local education agencies within the Southwest region. She has also served as the director for three large-scale, IES-funded randomized-controlled trials of reading and math curricula: Open Court Reading, Voyager’s Passport Reading, and Everyday Mathematics.

Jack Buckley, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator, 2018 - present

Dr. Jack Buckley is a co-principal investigator (Co-PI) of the WWC SWAT contract at American Institutes for Research (AIR). Dr. Buckley will provide overall direction and coordination with a focus on efforts to clearly and creatively communicate scientific findings to a broad audience. In this role, Dr. Buckley will draw on his extensive background in statistics, education research, and managing high-profile U.S. Department of Education (ED) investments across PK–12 and higher education. Before joining AIR, Dr. Buckley helped lead the redesign of the SAT at the College Board, where he served as senior vice president of research. He also served as commissioner of ED’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), where he was responsible for the measurement of all aspects of U.S. education, including conducting the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Larry Hedges, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator, 2018 - present

Dr. Larry Hedges is a co-principal investigator (Co-PI) of the WWC SWAT contract at American Institutes for Research (AIR). In this role, Dr. Hedges will provide overall direction and coordination with a focus on advancing the methodological work of the WWC. A national leader in the field of education statistics and evaluation, Dr. Hedges is known for his development of statistical methods for meta-analysis, the backbone of much evidence-based social science research. He has also served as the PI on multiple research grant studies for the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. A trusted leader in the field of education, his many appointments include serving as president of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, as a member of the White House Educational Advisory Committee, and as chair of the board of the National Board for Education Sciences.

Jeffrey C. Valentine, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, 2015 - present
Co-Principal Investigator, 2018 - present

Dr. Jeffrey Valentine is a co-principal investigator (Co-PI) of the WWC SWAT contract at American Institutes for Research (AIR) and has served as the Principal Investigator for DSG’s Reviews, Reporting, Dissemination, and Development (R2D2) contract for the WWC since 2015. Dr. Valentine is a Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. In his role, Dr. Valentine will provide overall direction and coordination with a focus on standards, procedures, training, and quality. Dr. Valentine’s areas of expertise include the use and improvement of meta-analytic techniques as a means of helping education policymakers and practitioners identify effective interventions. As an internationally known methodological expert, he has written more than four dozen works that use, explain, or seek to improve the methods of systematic review and meta-analysis. He co-edited (with Harris Cooper and Larry Hedges) the Handbook of Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis (Second Edition), is an Associate Editor for the peer-reviewed journal Research Synthesis Methods, serves as a Statistical Editor for the Developmental, Psychosocial, and Learning Problems Group for the Cochrane Collaboration. His research has been published in Psychological Methods, Psychological Bulletin, Review of Educational Research, Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, and Education Evaluation and Public Policy Analysis. In addition, Dr. Valentine conducts trainings on systematic review methods as the cochair of the Campbell Collaboration’s Training Group. He has extensive experience leading WWC contracts. Through his work on the WWC, Dr. Valentine developed and released the postsecondary practice guide and helped refine the WWC's protocols, standards, and processes.

Dave Brady, PMP
AEM Corporation Lead, 2018 - present

Dave Brady is responsible for AEM’s technical oversight of the Statistics, Website, and Training (SWAT) contract’s WWC website, database and tools. Dave is experienced in the successful management and delivery of large, complex, IT, business operations, and technical assistance projects for the U.S. Department of Education. He has managed 16 large Department of Education projects over the past 18 years including Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), Common Services for Borrowers (CSB), and Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge (RTT ELC).

Doug Gurich, PMP
AEM Corporation Technical Director, 2018 - present

Doug Gurich is AEM’s technical lead for the SWAT contract and is responsible for managing the day to day technical activities for the WWC’s website, database and tools.  Doug has 20 years’ experience implementing robust IT systems that meet the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Chief Information Officer’s standards, specializing in web and reporting systems development. In his current role as lead software developer at AEM, he manages a team of developers working solely on the development, maintenance, and enhancement of ED applications including the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)-hosted Education Literature Validation and Indexing System (ELVIS), Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), GRADS360°, the Civil Rights Data Collection Reporting Website, and EDFacts. 

Gabrielle Tapscott
AEM Corporation Project Manager, 2018 - present

Gabrielle Tapscott is responsible for AEM’s oversight of the WWC’s help desk activities and supporting the coordination of the Statistics, Website, and Training (SWAT) contract’s technical activities. Gabrielle is an experienced IT and Help Desk project manager with a background in leading business and IT operations for the U.S. Department of Education contracts including three with the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).  Gabrielle has implemented improved help desk processes and efficiencies leading to an increase in the quality of support provided to over 50,000 IES stakeholders.  She also managed the EDFacts business team responsible for over 70 software releases annually, system operations and maintenance, website requirements gathering, system testing, and help desk operations responsible for responding to over 40,000 inquiries in support of every SEA, LEA, ED program offices, and the research community.

Deanna Glick
Communications Director, 2018 - present
Quality Information Partners (QIP)

Deanna Glick is a communications and content specialist with extensive experience in writing, editing, content packaging, and content strategy in the public and private sectors. She leads QIP’s team of communications professionals, including writers, editors, graphic designers, and video producers, to develop top-notch content experiences that clearly represent education research and data. She also supports QIP’s internal communications, marketing, and business development efforts.

Marcia I. Cohen, MCP
Officer in Charge, 2015 - present

Marcia Cohen is President of Development Services Group, Inc. (DSG), a woman-owned small business, and serves as Officer in Charge of DSG’s Reviews, Reporting, Dissemination, and Development (R2D2) contract for the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC). Ms. Cohen provides oversight to all of DSG’s activities for the R2D2 contract, which expands the content and reach of the WWC by working with the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to update current products, disseminate new products, and conduct evidence reviews for grant competitions. She is also Officer in Charge of a grant from IES to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of college aid programs. Ms. Cohen is a seasoned program evaluator and senior research manager with more than 25 years of experience as a principal investigator of more than 30 evaluations in the prevention of at-risk behavior. She has extensive experience in designing and operating evidence-based repositories. She serves as the Officer in Charge of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Model Programs Guide, a web-based system of more than 250 evidence-based delinquency prevention and intervention programs, and the Program Manager for the National Institute of Justice’s CrimeSolutions.gov, a repository of justice programs and practices..

Fran Harmon, Ph.D.
Project Director, 2018 - present

Dr. Fran Harmon is a Senior Research Scientist at Development Services Group, Inc. (DSG), specializing in evidence review, evidence-based repositories, best-practice dissemination, quantitative statistical analysis and methodology, program research, and evaluation. She is currently the Project Director for IES’s Reviews, Reporting, Dissemination, and Development (R2D2) contract and the Statistics, Website, and Training (SWAT) subcontract, in partnership with American Institutes for Research. She is also the Deputy Manager of a grant from IES to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of college aid programs. Dr. Harmon also conducted program reviews for studies in postsecondary education for the WWC. She has extensive experience in the application and use of quantitative methodology in education, behavioral health, and criminal justice. Dr. Harmon is also the Senior Researcher for juvenile justice programs for the CrimeSolutions.gov database for the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. She was the Associate Project Director on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for which she managed multiple concurrent reviews of programs and practices in behavioral health.

Eoin B. Healy, Ph.D.
Deputy Project Director, 2018 - present

Dr. Eoin Healy is a Senior Research Scientist at Development Services Group, Inc. (DSG). He serves as the Deputy Project Director of DSG’s Reviews, Reporting, Dissemination, and Development (R2D2) contract for the WWC. Since 2013, Dr. Healy has worked on coordinating and reviewing evidence for the WWC, primarily in the area of postsecondary education. He works on a number of federally funded evidence-assessment clearinghouses, including CrimeSolutions.gov and the Model Programs Guide, for which he serves as Senior Researcher. His research topics include education, criminal and juvenile justice, and behavioral health, and he specializes in quantitative research methods, risk assessment, meta-analysis, and program evaluation.

Elias Walsh, Ph.D.
Director, 2018 - present

Dr. Elias Walsh is the director of Mathematica Policy Research’s WWC Organization of Reviews of Evidence on Graduation, Achievement, and Nonacademic Outcomes (WWC-OREGANO) contract. He has worked on the WWC since 2011, serving as the deputy project director from 2016–18. Dr. Walsh has contributed to practice guides and other products, and developed and updated WWC standards on the Statistical, Technical, and Analysis Team. Dr. Walsh is a senior economist at Mathematica, who has expertise in quantitative analysis methods, with a focus in education research. As an expert on measures of educator effectiveness, Dr. Walsh has worked with states and districts to develop student growth models and design educator evaluation systems. He has also co-authored several Mathematica reports, working papers, and journal articles, including a quasi-experimental design evaluation of the impact of principals on student test scores and methodological papers on student growth models. He previously taught high school mathematics in the Chicago Public Schools.

Dana Rotz, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, 2018 - present

Dr. Dana Rotz is the deputy director of Mathematica Policy Research’s WWC-OREGANO contract. She has worked on the WWC since 2012, contributing to single study reviews, quick reviews, reviews of IES-funded studies, and the development of a wide range of WWC products. Most recently, she led the WWC Version 4.0 design standards recertification process. In addition to the WWC, Dr. Rotz has led systematic reviews and the development of review standards for Department of Labor’s Clearinghouse for Labor Evaluation and Research. Dr. Rotz is a senior researcher at Mathematica, where she has specialized in quantitative analysis methods, as well as systematic reviews. She has designed and/or conducted more than 16 impact studies, including randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental design studies, and regression discontinuity design studies, and has authored numerous reports, working papers, journal articles, and issue briefs.

Jill M. Constantine, Ph.D.
Senior Advisor, 2018 - present

Dr. Jill M. Constantine is a vice president at Mathematica. She is a nationally recognized education researcher and experienced project director. Dr. Constantine has been involved with both research and leadership of the WWC since 2005, serving initially as a principal investigator for the Beginning Reading review team and later moving into overall leadership of the WWC. She has led the development of several hallmarks of the WWC’s content and standards, including WWC training and certification; the topic area review team process of identifying, prioritizing, and conducting reviews of interventions; and the Statistical, Technical, and Analysis Team. She has extensive experience directing large-scale studies in education, specializing in experimental and nonexperimental methods for assessing the effectiveness of education programs. Her substantive expertise includes teacher effectiveness, college access for low-income students, and early reading skills in young children. In addition to having directed the WWC, Dr. Constantine directed the evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund and the impact evaluation of teacher preparation models, both for IES.

Sarah Wissel
Director of Operations, 2018 - present

Sarah Wissel is the director of operations for WWC-OREGANO, overseeing the day-to-day operations of report development and coordination for the project. She has worked on the WWC since 2008 in numerous capacities, having contributed to the development of multiple intervention reports and practice guides, and having served as the deputy director of operations from 2013–18. Ms. Wissel is a lead program analyst at Mathematica, where she specializes in the management and operations of complex projects related to public education and supports for at-risk youth, including systematic reviews.

Michael Frye, Ph.D.
Project Director, 2016 - present

Dr. Michael Frye is the Project Director on Abt’s WWC Postsecondary Education, Postsecondary Preparation and Evidence Reporting contract. Dr. Frye is an Associate at Abt Associates and has more than 10 years of experience conducting evaluations, primarily in the field of education at the K–12 and postsecondary levels. He has led systematic reviews on three projects—the Evaluation of i3, the WWC PK-12 review, and Striving Readers. Dr. Frye has been WWC certified since 2012, and he has conducted reviews for the WWC Beginning Reading and Early Childhood Education topic areas. In addition to leading systematic review tasks, Dr. Frye serves as Deputy Project Director on Abt’s Robin Hood College Success Prize study—a randomized controlled trial designed to test the impact of two technology interventions on the retention and graduation rates of community college students. Prior to joining Abt Associates in 2012, Dr. Frye was a Research Associate at RMC Research Corporation, where he served as a Project Director and quantitative analyst on the evaluation team.

Allan Porowski, M.P.A
Lead Methodologist, 2016 - present

Allan Porowski is the Lead Methodologist on Abt’s WWC Postsecondary Education, Postsecondary Preparation and Evidence Reporting (WWC-PEPPER) contract. A Principal Associate at Abt Associates, Mr. Porowski has a wide range of experience in the design and conduct of rigorous research studies, as well as in research synthesis and dissemination. Mr. Porowski has supported and provided leadership on the WWC since 2003. He currently serves as a Principal Investigator on WWC-OREGANO and as co-Lead Methodologist for the WWC-OREGANO Literacy review teams (beginning reading and adolescent literacy). In a previous position, he managed the WWC Help Desk and served as Project Coordinator on the dropout prevention topic review. In addition, Mr. Porowski has served as a reviewer on a number of WWC topic review and practice guide review teams, including math, character education, out-of-school time, and foundational reading. Mr. Porowski has served as Principal Investigator on other systematic review efforts for the Texas Education Agency, including the Texas Best Practices Clearinghouse and a study of best practices in dropout prevention. He also currently contributes to Abt’s evaluation of the Investing in Innovation (i3) program and serves as Principal Investigator on an evaluation of the AARP Foundation’s Experience Corps program. Mr. Porowski is coauthor of Applied Policy Research: Concepts and Cases (2017), published by Routledge.

Sandra Jo Wilson, Ph.D.
Co-Methodological Lead, 2017 - present

Dr. Sandra Jo Wilson is the Co-Methodological Lead on the WWC Postsecondary Education, Postsecondary Preparation, and Evidence Reporting contract. A Principal Associate at Abt, Dr. Wilson is an expert in the design and execution of systematic reviews and meta-analysis, with nearly 20 years of experience leading reviews on educational and social programs. She has served in leadership roles on Practice Guides for the WWC and is an author of several WWC protocols. She is also a certified and experienced reviewer. Prior to joining Abt, Dr. Wilson led WWC reviews in the Transition to College and Supporting Postsecondary Success topic areas, conducted reviewer training, and was Principal Investigator and director on multiple systematic review and meta-analysis projects. Dr. Wilson has broad content experience, as evidenced by her work on topics in early childhood education, school-based prevention programs, high school dropout prevention, and postsecondary education.

I-Fang Cheng, Ed.M.
Deputy Project Director, 2018 - present

I-Fang Cheng is the Deputy Project Director on the WWC Postsecondary Education, Postsecondary Preparation, and Evidence Reporting contract. She is a Senior Analyst at Abt Associates, where she focuses on education and workforce development research studies and technical assistance efforts. Her portfolio of work includes supporting the implementation of U.S. Department of Education’s Study of College Transition Messaging in Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP Texting) and studies that advance understanding of career pathways for low-income and lower-skilled adults for the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, including Next Generation of Health Profession Opportunity Grants (HHS), Career Pathways Design Study (DOL), Evaluation of the Community College Consortium for Bioscience Credentials (DOL), and Technical Assistance for States Developing Career Pathways (ED). She is a former adult education instructor and program manager and K-12 classroom teacher.

Sarah Costelloe, Ph.D.
Practice Guide Director, 2017 - present

Dr. Sarah Costelloe serves as the Practice Guide Director on the WWC Postsecondary Education, Postsecondary Preparation and Evidence Reporting contract. Dr. Costelloe is a Senior Associate at Abt Associates and has nearly 15 years of experience in qualitative data collection, analysis, and interpretation and in working with stakeholders to design and implement evaluations of programs and policies funded at the district-, state-, and national levels. Outside of the WWC, Dr. Costelloe conducts evidence reviews on Abt’s evaluation of the Investing in Innovation (i3) program and serves as the Project Director on several projects, including the U.S. Department of Education’s Evaluation of Data-Driven Instruction and evaluations of Philadelphia’s Read by 4th Campaign and its Literacy in Early Learning Spaces Program. Prior to joining Abt Associates in 2015, Sarah served as the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Philadelphia Youth Network and as a Research Scientist at the U.S. Department of Education.

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