Staff

Kaveh Akram

Kaveh Akram is a researcher at VARC. He works on researching and estimating student growth percentile model and student growth measures. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Rutgers University with a focus on econometrics theory and applied econometrics.
kakram@wisc.edu

Firas Amach

Firas Amach is a programmer and analyst at VARC. He joined VARC in March 2012. Firas performs data analysis for the Hillsborough County Value-Added Project and for VARC executive director Rob Meyer. He has also worked on the Tulsa Head Start program. Previously, Firas lived in Syria, where he taught university-level computer engineering classes. Prior to that, he worked as a development programmer at AccuWeather in State College, PA. Firas graduated from Penn State with a B.S. in engineering.
famach@wisc.edu

Bradley Carl

Dr. Bradley Carl serves as a Researcher and the Associate Director for Policy at VARC. He has also served, since 2007, as the VARC Embedded Researcher for the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). As VARC Associate Director for Policy, Dr. Carl works with a cross-disciplinary team of researchers on issues involving school accountability systems, student growth measures, educator evaluation and human capital management systems, and early warning indicators. As the VARC/MPS Embedded Researcher, he works closely with the MPS Division of Research and Evaluation to conduct program evaluations and research involving key MPS initiatives and district improvement efforts. Dr. Carl is a frequent presenter at conferences across Wisconsin on school accountability and educator effectiveness, provides advice to state-level and district-level leaders on these topics, and has had his work cited by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, and Education Week. He worked previously for the Office of Educational Accountability at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Center on Education and Work at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the American Institutes for Research in Washington, DC. Dr. Carl holds degrees from Hamline University (B.A., International Studies and History) and Michigan State University (Ph.D., Sociology-Urban Studies).
brcarl@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 263-3040

Brie Chapa

Brie Chapa is a data manager at VARC at the University of Wisconsin–-Madison. Her work as a VARC data manager focuses on data acquisition, data transfer, and data security. In addition she assists in developing and implementing new systems within VARC to improve efficiency, collaboration, and knowledge sharing among staff. After a few years of teaching secondary mathematics, Brie was hired as a data processor for the System-wide Change for All Learners and Educators (SCALE) partnership at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER). Her SCALE work focused on data reporting and data quality. Brie received her B.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
bchapa@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 263-1902

Emily Cheng

Huiping (Emily) Cheng is an associate researcher at VARC. Ms. Cheng actively engages in the design and implementation of statistical analysis to evaluate impact of educational interventions in the partner school districts. Projects she has worked on include the quantitative research of the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program, the evaluation of Supplemental Educational Services program, the Accountability and Performance in Secondary Education project and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEARUP) project in the Milwaukee Public Schools. Ms. Cheng earned her masters degree in economics from the University of Virginia has been with VARC since July 2007.
hcheng6@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 265-2620

Mike Christian

Michael Christian has been an assistant scientist at VARC since November 2006. His work at VARC has focused on developing and estimating value-added models for Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison and on providing technical assistance for districts and states participating in the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program. He received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. Before joining VARC, he worked as a staff economist at the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the US Department of Commerce.
mchristian2@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 263-4235

Jenny Connolly

Jenny Connolly joined VARC as a programmer analyst in April 2014. She works on the Tulsa, New York, and Chicago value-added projects. Jenny received her M.S. in Applied Economics from Washington State University in 2012. After graduation, she worked as a research associate where she focused on sustainable and local agricultural issues.
jconnolly4@wisc.edu

Emin Dokumaci

Emin Dokumaci is an assistant scientist at VARC. His work focuses on the identification problem of the effect of schools on students’ achievement levels and their policy implications. In particular, he works on the development of advanced value-added models. Currently, he and Rob Meyer are working on “A Differential Effects Value-Added Model with Multivariate Shrinkage,” and “Mean and Variance Value-Added Indicators with Multilevel Shrinkage: Application to a Multi-District Statewide Value-Added System.” Some of the VARC projects which he is part of are the Value-Added and Growth Model Demonstration Project, the Milwaukee Classroom Value-Added Initiative, and lately, An Integrated Qualitative and Quantitative Evaluation of the SAGE Program. Dokumaci received his Ph.D. in Economics from Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he also served as a teaching assistant for graduate econometrics and graduate microeconomics courses. Prior to joining VARC as an assistant scientist, he worked as a project assistant for research projects on value-added models while pursuing his doctoral studies. His research interests are broad, and as such he has working papers on Economics of Education, Economic Theory, and Applied Theory. He has published in Games and Economic Behavior.
edokumaci@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 263-4292

Mary Fish

Mary Fish is the administrative assistant for the Value-Added Research Center (VARC) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She joined VARC on March 1, 2010. Some of her duties include providing support for the director and other staff; making travel arrangements; processing expense reports; processing payments to individuals and schools; helping to arrange various meetings; and to work with some of the agencies by providing supporting documentation for invoices.
mjfish@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 263-4238

Nandita Gawade

Nandita Gawade has been a researcher at VARC since October 2008. Her work involves developing econometric methods for the estimation of value-added models. Currently, she is the project lead for the Hillsborough County Public Schools value-added project. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University.
gawade@wisc.edu

Lisa Geraghty

Lisa Geraghty joined VARC as an Outreach Specialist in 2008. Her work at VARC involves working as a project manager for several projects within the organization, including the Wisconsin Statewide Value-Added System, the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative, the Atlanta Public Schools, Tulsa Public Schools, and the School Quality in Public and Private Schools in Wisconsin. Before working with VARC Ms. Geraghty worked as an education administration consultant with the Department of Public Instruction and as a teacher in the Verona Area Public Schools. Ms. Geraghty holds a B.A. in Sociology from Kenyon College, a MPA with a focus on Education Policy from the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a MSEd with a focus on Elementary Education from Northwestern University.
elgeraghty@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 265-2621

Annalee Good

Annalee Good currently serves as the Research Director for the Multisite Evaluation of Supplemental Educational Services, a mixed-method longitudinal study funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. She has published and presented numerous papers on the nature of the instructional landscape in federally funded tutoring programs, as well as the role of tutoring in school reform. She was a classroom teacher before earning her Master's and Doctoral degrees in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and continues to teach online courses for middle school students in Wisconsin.
aggood@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 262-0124

Swati Gupta

Swati Gupta joined VARC in September 2013 as a Programmer Analyst. Her work involves value-added report generation as well as web-based tool development and design. She is currently on the project team for several district and state partners, including Wisconsin, Tulsa, and Chicago. Prior to VARC, Swati was a Software Developer at Genpact. She earned her B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Delhi and her M.S. in Computer Science from Amity University. sgupta59@wisc.edu

Rae Hauge

Rae Hauge is a research manager at VARC, responsible for financial oversight of VARC grants, including budgeting and financial projections, and monitoring client expectations. Rae previously worked in a similar position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Medicine and Public Health. She has worked for the university in various jobs in payroll, human resources, and grant management since 2006. She is a graduate of Edgewood College with degrees in economics and finance and a minor in human resources.

Dave Heistad

Dave Heistad is a researcher at VARC at the University of Wisconsin–Madison working on the large scale teacher effectiveness project funded by the Bush Foundation. He has worked as a program evaluator and researcher in Minneapolis Public Schools for the past 24 years. He is currently the Executive Director of the Research, Evaluation and Assessment in Minneapolis 80% of the time and works for VARC 20%.

Dave has published research in the areas of early childhood assessment, the stability of value-added achievement indicators, and teacher effects in reading. He serves on several federal task forces including the Institute for Education Sciences - Urban Education Research Task Force, American Institute for Research - Evaluation of Restructured Schools Technical Working Group, and the National Center on Response to Interventions - Technical Review Committee and the Federal ARRA Evaluation Advisory Panel. He has a bachelor's degree in psychology from St. Olaf College, a master's degree in educational statistics and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota. Dave was the 2009 recipient of the Council of Great City Schools research leadership award. His current work focuses on the development and implementation of valid and equitable educational accountability and school improvement indicators.

Herb Heneman

Herbert G. Heneman III joined VARC in 2012 as a senior researcher. Herb works as a content expert in the area of the strategic management of human capital, with a focus on states and districts receiving Teacher Incentive Fund 3 and 4 support. Herb has been affiliated with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research for the past 15 years, where he has studied the design and impact of human capital systems to improve educator effectiveness. Herb is the Dickson-Bascom Professor Emeritus of Management and Human Resources at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Business. His earlier research focused on human resource practices in staffing, compensation, and performance management. Herb is the senior author of  three textbooks and over 100 published articles and papers. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, The Academy of Management, and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Herb received his Ph.D. in Industrial Relations from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
hheneman@bus.wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 262-0124

HeeJin Kim

HeeJin is a policy analyst at VARC. Her work involves project management, statistical programming, policy and proposal writing, as well as collaborating with partners working with VARC regarding model development and data quality issues. Since joining VARC in the summer of 2011, HeeJin has worked with New York City Department of Education on the Teacher Data Initiative, the Archibald Bush Foundation on the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative, the National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools on their IES study, and The New Teacher Project on their Assessment of Common Excellence. HeeJin majored in Education, English Literature, and Public Policy and American Institutions, and received both her BA in Education and her MA in Urban Education from Brown University.
hkim454@wisc.edu | 608-890-4485

Steve Kimball

Steve Kimball is a researcher with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) and VARC at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) and the University of Wisconsin–Madison (UW). With VARC, Steve is contributing to the “harvesting” project for the Center on Educator Compensation Reform (CECR) that will collect and distill information from CECR monitors and technical assistance providers about best practices from the Federal Teacher Incentive Fund project. Steve’s work with the CPRE Teacher Compensation Project has included research on standards-based teacher evaluation and compensation reforms. Steve is also the co-investigator of a study funded by the Institute for Educational Sciences on principal performance evaluation, and is coordinating research on the WCER evaluation of the Chicago Community Trust Education Initiative, which has invested over $55 million in educational interventions in Chicago. He coordinated the VARC study of literacy coaching in the Milwaukee Public Schools. Steven is also starting research on innovative district human resource practices for the Strategic Management of Human Capital project with CPRE. Before joining CPRE, Steve held legislative analyst positions in the US House of Representatives, the US Senate and the Texas State Office in Washington, DC. Steve completed his Ph.D. and MS from the UW–Madison Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.
skimball@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 265-6201

Sam Legg

Sam Legg joined VARC as a programmer analyst in 2013. Sam attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he majored in economics and industrial engineering. After graduation, Sam moved to Denver, CO, to work in energy consulting.
slegg@wisc.edu

Yiyao Liu

Yiyao Liu is a programmer analyst at VARC. She conducts statistical analysis on the Hillsborough County Public Schools (Florida) value-added project. A native of Changde, China, Liu graduated from Remnin University of China with a bachelor’s degree in science, with a major in applied mathematics. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in May 2014 with a master’s degree in statistics.

Michael McCants

Michael McCants joined VARC as an Assistant Researcher in June of 2011. His work at VARC has involved creating graphical displays of Value added results along with model building and implementation. Michael has worked on a variety of projects, but mostly works with the Tulsa, Atlanta, and NYC school districts. Prior to VARC Michael attended Kansas State University where he earned his M.S. in Statistics.
mmccants@wisc.edu

Dan Marlin

Dan Marlin is as a policy analyst at VARC, where he works on projects related to the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) and Wisconsin’s Educator Effectiveness System, among others. Dan graduated with a master’s degree in public affairs from the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Northwestern University.

Robert Meyer

Robert MeyerRobert H. Meyer is research professor and director of VARC at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Before that, he was on the faculty of the Harris School at the University of Chicago and the Economics Department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Dr. Meyer is known for his research on value-added modeling and evaluation methods and is currently working intensively with school districts in Atlanta, Chicago, Hillsborough County (Florida), Los Angeles, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York City, and Tulsa; as well as with the states of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Over the past two decades he has worked collaboratively with these districts and states to build value-added and performance management systems to inform decision making with respect to policy and school improvement strategies. He is co-leading a major initiative with in Minnesota and the Dakotas (and their partner school districts) to provide value-added information to all teachers and to the colleges and universities that prepared these teachers. Dr. Meyer is currently working with many districts and states to expand value-added systems to include courses not typically covered by assessments under No Child Left Behind. He has conducted major statistical evaluations of programs and policies such as class size reduction, literacy, and Supplemental Educational Services. Meyer received a Senior Urban Education Research Fellowship from the Council of Great City Schools in 2007 and in 2010 received the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Research.
rhmeyer@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 265-5663

Steve Ponisciak

Steve Ponisciak is a researcher at the Value Added Research Center and in the Office of Strategy, Research, and Accountability at the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), as the main liaison between CPS and VARC. He also works on professional development projects in Illinois, and is a member of the Illinois State Board of Education's Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC). Prior to joining VARC, he was a senior research analyst at the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. He analyzed the PSAT, ACT, Explore, and Plan tests; teacher mobility; and value-added models. Steve earned a BS in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. from the Institute of Statistics and Decision Sciences at Duke University.
ponisciak@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 890-2316 / (773) 553-2310

Mikhail Pyatigorsky

Mikhail Pyatigorsky joined VARC as a researcher in 2010. His work includes developing and implementing value-added models for teacher preparation institutions, developing analyses and reports of the educator pipeline, and program evaluation studies. Currently, Mikhail is the project lead for the teacher effectiveness initiative funded by the Archibald Bush Foundation. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University. Prior to pursuing his graduate degree, Mikhail worked in market research and economic consulting.
pyatigorsky@wisc.edu | 608-263-3415

Jed Richardson

In 2011, Jed Richardson joined VARC as a researcher and an Associate Director of VARC. He is currently the project lead for New York City and also contributes to the Integrated Data Evaluation and Action System (IDEAS) project and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEARUP) evaluation in Milwaukee. He has worked on early warning systems for improving the outcomes of at-risk students and methods for combining multiple indicators of educator effectiveness. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Davis.
jtrichardson@wisc.edu

Gabe Rosen

Gabe Rosen has been a data programmer at VARC since January 2011. He works on the Los Angeles Unified School District value-added project. He received his B.A. in economics and political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
grosen2@wisc.edu | 608-890-4678

Grant Sim

Grant Sim joinedVARC as an assistant researcher. His work involves program evaluation, policy research, and data analysis. He has worked on a number of projects including the Teacher Incentive Fund, evaluation of Wisconsin's Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program, and evaluation of the Milwaukee Community Literacy Project. Prior to joining VARC, he worked as a research and data analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction where he examined the consequential validity of special education assessments. He holds a master's degree in public affairs from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
gsim@wisc.edu | 608-890-3440

John Snyder

John Snyder has been a quantitative data analyst for VARC since the summer of 2010 having completing a master’s degree in statistics from The Ohio State University. Prior to this he obtained an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Grinnell College. He has developed and automated several statistical and econometric models for Hillsborough County Public Schools for the purposes of educator evaluation, in addition to many of the data conventions that these models employ.
jmsnyder3@wisc.edu

Lexy Spry

Lexy Spry is the knowledge manager for the Teacher Incentive Fund project at VARC. She joined the Center in 2011; her work focuses on developing collaborative systems, improving efficiency and collaboration among staff, and creating processes that address the life-cycle of project  data.  Before joining VARC, she was the knowledge manager for the WCER where she administered the Center's knowledge management system, created record-keeping systems, and created workflows that addresses the life-cycle of sensitive research data.  She received her B.A. in German from Carleton College and her M.A. in Library and Information Studies from University of Wisconsin–Madison.
spry@wisc.edu

Clarissa Steele

Clarissa Steele is a survey researcher for VARC and also serves as the communications and professional development lead for VARC.  She helps design, implement, and analyze surveys and observation protocols and develops and presents professional development material with VARC partners.  Clarissa currently works on the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) as a project manager, technical assistance provider, and technology manager in addition to her evaluation work on the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness system and the Wisconsin Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program.  Before joining VARC in 2010, Clarissa graduated with a Master of Science degree in Survey Research and Methodology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Clarissa also earned a Master of Arts degree in Spanish from Bowling Green State University. 
crsteele@wisc.edu | Phone: (608) 263-2863

Katerina Suchor

Katerina Suchor joined VARC in 2013 as a programmer analyst.  She has worked with a number of public school systems - including New York City, Milwaukee, Hillsborough County (Florida), and Bloomington (Minnesota) - on value-added and early warning projects.  Prior to joining VARC, she did data quality control and analysis for studies of federal education and workforce development programs in the Washington, DC area.  She holds a BA in economics from Grinnell College. 

Jennifer Vadas

Jenn Vadas started working for VARC as an assistant researcher in April 2011. In the context of the Bush Foundation/Teacher Effectiveness Initiative, she researched the existence and use of early signs of teacher effectiveness to improve decision-making processes at key points of a teacher’s career (recruitment, training, hiring, retention, and professional development). In the field, this research involved collaborative work with school districts, union leaders, and institutions of higher education. In fall 2012, she joined the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program evaluation team to estimate the effects of class size reductions on students’ test scores in schools with high levels of poverty in the state of Wisconsin. Her quantitative work includes teacher value-added estimations and program evaluations. As a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Pennsylvania State University, Jenn Vadas also works on auction game theory and on estimating the effects of observed characteristics on children’s learning trajectory using a large longitudinal data set.
jkvadas@wisc.edu

Lalanthika Vasudevan

Lalanthika Vasudevan is a data manager at VARC. She graduated with a Masters in Computer Science with a specialization in databases and network security from Georgia Institute of Technology. She joined VARC in 2012. Her work involves designing and implementing standardized data management systems using secure data warehouses with standardized schemas. She does database programming to help with the data preparation for running value-added analysis.

She also works with creating data policies and security user groups to ensure secure access to all the data used for the value-added analysis. She works with many value-added projects across VARC including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Tulsa, Hillsborough, Chicago, Statewide Value-Added and the Integrated Data Evaluation and Action System (IDEAS) project to implement the data standardization initiative and design standardized databases and data structures. In addition, she works on developing quality analysis reports for ensuring high data quality for value-added analysis. As part of these projects, she is also involved in communication with external clients and internal team members to understand and implement the data requirements.
vasudevan@wisc.edu | 608-890-4766

Yan Wang

Yan Wang joined VARC as a statistical data analyst in 2010. Her work at VARC involves statistical programming in SAS, R, Stata and SQL, as well as collaborating with both VARC and partner staffs on the development and improvement of statistical and econometric models for value-added programs. Yan has worked on a number of value-added and analytical projects, including the Bush Foundation project (Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota), Walton Family Foundation project (Milwaukee, Chicago, and Minneapolis) and State Wisconsin value-added project. Yan received her Master degree in Statistics from the Iowa State University in 2010.
ywang287@wisc.edu

Yang Caroline Wang

Yang Caroline Wang is a research associate – assessment specialist in VARC. She is involved in multiple research projects in VARC, such as the Hillsborough County Public Schools value-added project, primarily focusing on assessment related issues in value-added analysis and general value-added research. Caroline is also involved in Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) 3 and 4 projects that provide technical assistance to the TIF grantees. Prior to work at VARC, she worked on assessment issues for three years at the Division of the Civil Servant Exam and Personnel Assessment in Beijing. She has also served as an education researcher and consultant for several organizations in Boston. Caroline received a Ph.D. in Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation from Boston College.
wang523@wisc.edu | 608-263-3386