Dropout Prevention Institute


People


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Greg Roberts

Dr. Greg Roberts is the associate director of MCPER. For more information, read Roberts' full bio.


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Sharon Vaughn

Dr. Sharon Vaughn is the executive director of MCPER, director of the Reading Institute, and a director of the Dropout Prevention Institute. For more information, read Vaughn's full bio.



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Mark Dynarski

Mark Dynarski is founder and president of Pemberton Research, which focuses on understanding and utilizing research evidence in decision making.  Previously, he was vice president and director of the Center for Improving Research Evidence at Mathematica Policy Research. He also previously served as director of the What Works Clearinghouse at the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education, and as director and principal investigator of numerous education programs with a focus on at-risk children and youth. Currently he is a senior fellow (nonresident) at the Brown Center for Education Policy at the Brookings Institute. Dynarski has published widely in peer-reviewed journals, including Educational Researcher, Educational Leadership, and Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk. He is also on the editorial boards of Effective Education and The Elementary School Journal. Dynarski earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from the Johns Hopkins University and holds a B.A. in economics from the State University of New York at Geneseo. He also was a tenured professor of economics at the University of California, Davis, where he taught theory, statistics, and econometrics.


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Anna-Mari Fall

Dr. Anna-Mari Fall joined MCPER as a research associate in 2009, shortly after completing her doctorate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in special education and research methods from Virginia Tech. Prior to her doctoral studies, Fall received a master’s in special education from Virginia Tech. In addition, she was a special education teacher for 2 years in Hungary and Romania. During her doctoral studies, Fall’s research focused on issues related to educational equity, teacher quality, commitment, and retention. Her current research interests include school dropout, student engagement, interventions that enhance student engagement and decrease dropout, secondary data analysis, and multilevel modeling with latent variables. Currently, she is studying the effect of the school and family contexts on student engagement and dropout, using the Educational Longitudinal Study large-scale national database. Fall is the recipient of several awards, including the prestigious Dissertation Award from the Council of Exceptional Children Teacher Education Division and the Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the School of Education at Virginia Tech.


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Andrea Flower

Dr. Andrea Flower is an educational consultant specializing in academic and behavioral interventions. Previously, Flower was an assistant professor in the UT Austin Department of Special Education. She completed her doctorate at the University of Washington in Seattle. Prior to studying at the University of Washington, she taught for several years in Southern California in multiple special education settings across the K–12 continuum. Her current research and teaching focus is on academic and social/behavioral instruction and interventions for students with or at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders. More specifically, she is interested in the intersection of academic intervention and secondary- and tertiary-level positive behavior support interventions that promote improved outcomes for these students.


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Cynthia Franklin

Dr. Cynthia Franklin is a professor and holder of the Stiernberg/Spencer Family Professorship in Mental Health at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work, where she is also coordinator of the clinical concentration for the master's in social work program. Franklin is an internationally known researcher, scholar, and leader in school mental health practice. She has authored more than 100 professional publications on topics such as how to prevent high school dropout; how solution-focused, brief therapy helps at-risk youth succeed in schools; and how to help pregnant and parenting youth stay in school and improve their attendance, academic achievement, and life goals by using the Taking Charge intervention. She is the author of several books, including The School Services Sourcebook: A Guide for School-Based Professionals, Taking Charge: A School-Based Life Skills Program for Adolescent Mothers, and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy in Schools: The 360 Degree View of Practice and Research, all published by Oxford University Press. To contact Franklin, visit the UT Austin School of Social Work website.


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Brandy Maynard

Dr. Brandy R. Maynard is an Institute Fellow in the Dropout Prevention Institute and the recipient of the 2011 MCPER Postdoctoral Fellowship on Reading Disabilities and Response to Intervention. Maynard is an assistant professor of social work at Saint Louis University. She holds a Ph.D. in social work from Loyola University Chicago and a master of social work from the University of Michigan. She is a licensed master social worker and has 16 years of post-master’s clinical and administrative experience in child welfare, juvenile justice, school social work, and mental health. Maynard has experience implementing and monitoring the fidelity of several evidence-based interventions in the juvenile justice and mental health systems. Her research interests include interventions with at-risk students, particularly in the areas of dropout, truancy, delinquency, and adolescent behavioral and mental health; adoption, implementation, and fidelity of evidence-based interventions; use and quality of research in education and social work; and systematic review and meta-analytic methods. To contact Maynard, visit the Saint Louis website.


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Nicole Pyle

Dr. Nicole Pyle is an assistant professor of adolescent literacy in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership at Utah State University. Pyle is the recipient of the 2009 MCPER Postdoctoral Fellowship on Reading Disabilities and Response to Intervention. She earned a doctorate of philosophy in education with a concentration in special education from the joint doctoral program at Claremont Graduate University and San Diego State University. She completed her master of arts degree in secondary curriculum and instruction. She has more than 10 years of experience teaching middle and high school students with disabilities. Her research interests include interventions for struggling adolescent learners, particularly in literacy and dropout prevention, secondary education, peer tutoring, inclusion, and English language learners. To contact Pyle, visit the Utah State website.


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Daniel Robinson

Dr. Daniel Robinson is director of research and measurement for Project 2021 at The University of Texas at Austin. Robinson received his Ph.D. in educational psychology in 1993 from the University of Nebraska, where he majored in both learning/cognition and statistics/research. He has taught at Mississippi State University (1993–1997), the University of South Dakota (1997–1998), the University of Louisville (1998–1999), The University of Texas (1999–2012), and Colorado State University (2012–2015). He is an associate editor of the Journal of Educational Psychology. He has also served as editor of Educational Psychology Review and as an editorial board member of nine refereed international journals: American Educational Research JournalContemporary Educational PsychologyEducational Technology, Research, and DevelopmentJournal of Behavioral EducationJournal of Educational PsychologyJournal of Experimental EducationReading Research and InstructionResearch in the Schools; and The Open Education Journal. He has published more than 100 articles, books, and book chapters; presented more than 100 papers at research conferences; and taught more than 100 college courses. His research interests include educational technology innovations that facilitate learning, team-based approaches to learning, and examining trends in articles published in various educational journals and societies. Robinson was a Fulbright Specialist Scholar at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, in 2011 and will be a Fulbright Scholar at the Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland in 2017.


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Michael G. Vaughn

Dr. Michael Vaughn received his doctoral degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2005 and is currently an assistant professor in the School of Social Work and holds appointments in Public Policy and the Department of Community Health, Division of Epidemiology, Saint Louis University School of Public Health. Vaughn's work has appeared in more than 70 publications, and his interdisciplinary research has appeared in such journals as Addictive Behaviors, American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Psychiatry, Behavioral and Brain Functions, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Behavioral Sciences and the Law, Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Criminology, Social Service Review, and Children and Youth Services Review. His current research includes examining the epidemiology of school disengagement in relation to sociodemographic, personality, and substance use variables; assessing the role of callous-unemotional and related psychopathic features in reading achievement and school academic success; and developing and testing a general biosocial public health model for research and intervention applications on school dropout and educational risk. To contact Vaughn, visit the Saint Louis University website.


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Jade Wexler

Dr. Jade Wexler is an assistant professor in the Special Education Department at the University of Maryland, College Park. Wexler earned her doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007 in special education (learning disabilities and behavior disorders) and has extensive experience directing research related to providing high-quality interventions for students with significant reading difficulties and students at risk for dropping out of school. She has developed and implemented several academic interventions for middle and high school students. She also has coordinated large-scale studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Meadows Foundation, the Greater Texas Foundation, and the Institute of Education Sciences. She has also published several papers and chapters on adolescent reading and interventions for struggling readers. Her current research includes investigating effective response to intervention practices for older students with reading difficulties and disabilities and investigating effective methods to decrease dropout rates and increase school engagement for students at risk for dropping out of school. To contact Wexler, visit the University of Maryland website.



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Jennifer B. Schnakenberg

Dr. Jennifer B. Schnakenberg is the chief operating officer of MCPER. For more information, read Schnakenberg's full bio.




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Annie Charles


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Steffanie Dean

Steffanie Dean is a dropout prevention advisor for Project GOAL. Before joining the team, Dean taught secondary choral music. She's recognized in the Houston area and throughout the state for achieving choral excellence in culturally diverse settings. Her work has been awarded on the local, state, and national levels. She is the recipient of two National Mark of Excellence Awards from the Foundation for Music Education. She's presented at the Texas Music Educators Association convention and the Midwest Clinic.


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Kelly Williams

Kelly Williams is the project coordinator for Preventing Dropout Among At-Risk Youth: A Study of Project GOAL with English Learners. Currently, Williams is a doctoral student at The University of Texas, studying special education with a concentration in learning disabilities and behavior disorders. Her research interests include reading interventions for adolescents and preventing dropout with at-risk populations. She earned her B.S. in special education, M.Ed. in reading education, and Ed.S. in teaching and learning with a concentration in special education from Georgia Southern University. Previously, she was a high school special education teacher and taught reading and English in resource and co-taught settings. While teaching, she supervised preservice teachers and taught Introduction to Special Education to graduate and undergraduate students at Georgia Southern University.