Research Team

Dr. Nathan Clemens is with the Department of Special Education at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. in school psychology from Lehigh University. Dr. Clemens is currently the PI of an early career grant from the Society for the Study of School Psychology, in which he is conducting a pilot version of this project. Dr. Clemens’ areas of expertise include progress monitoring of early reading skills, screening for students at risk for reading difficulty, RTI implementation, and academic assessment. He has published in these areas in journals such as Journal of Special Education, Journal of School Psychology, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Learning and Individual Differences, School Psychology Quarterly, and Reading Psychology.

Dr. Shanna Hagan-Burke is an associate professor at TAMU and received her Ph.D. in special education from the University of Oregon. Dr. Hagan-Burke has experience successfully managing a number of federally funded projects and has published findings from those projects in peer-reviewed outlets including Exceptional Children, Journal of Educational Research, Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Journal of Special Education, and Remedial and Special Education. Her current areas of interest include early reading intervention, measurement of early literacy skills, and relations between academic performance and problem behavior. 

Dr. Oi-man Kwok is an associate professor of research, measurement and statistics in the educational psychology program at TAMU and received his Ph.D. in quantitative psychology from Arizona State University. Dr. Kwok has extensive expertise in quantitative statistics, and his areas of expertise include longitudinal data analysis, multilevel modeling, and structural equation modeling. He has served as the primary statistician on a number of externally funded research projects from agencies such as IES and NICHD.


Dr. Stephanie Al-Otaiba is a professor of special education at Southern Methodist University (SMU), and has previously held positions at Florida State University and the Florida Center for Reading Research. Prior to receiving her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, she was a special educator. She has published over 60 articles and chapters related to early literacy interventions, teacher training, and response to intervention. She has experience running large grants as a principal investigator on Florida’s Learning Disabilities Center Grant funded by NICHD and is a co-investigator on Florida’s Reading for Understanding Grant funded by IES. She is a co-editor of Elementary School Journal and Education Researcher and serves on the editorial boards of 10 journals.

Dr. Deborah Simmons is a professor of special education at TAMU. Dr. Simmons brings significant expertise to the project in the areas of early literacy development and intervention for at-risk learners as well as extensive experience in managing grants and funded programs.


Leslie Simmons, M.Ed., is the project coordinator for ELM. She has served as a project coordinator for several previous IES and OSEP grants and has extensive experience in assessment coordination with school sites. She is responsible for all dimensions of assessment coordination, participate in training data collectors and data-entry workers, developing assessment schedules, conduct reliability checks, coordinate measurement scoring, and communicate regularly with the project directors to ensure the accurate and secure management of data.


Dr. Yaacov Petscher is a research associate at Florida State University and director of research at the Florida Center for Reading Research. Dr. Petscher is a statistics consultant on the ELM project.  He is an expert in applied quantitative methods and measurement theory, including multilevel modeling, growth modeling, and longitudinal data analyses. He is an author of, and lead psychometrician on, the computer adaptive Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading, and is presently Co-PI on four measurement and development IES-funded grants. Dr. Petscher has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters pertaining to measurement of literacy development, screening, applied statistics, and assessment in educational psychology research.


Page last updated: December 9, 2016 - 1:12pm