Tomoko Wakabayashi, EdD
Tomoko Wakabayashi is director of the Center for Early Education Evaluation at HighScope. Dr. Wakabayashi is an experienced educational researcher with expertise in assessment and program evaluation. Her post-doctoral research experience includes work at the Center for Infant Studies at Stanford University. She has extensive experience in higher education teaching and has served as the lead evaluator for a federally funded five-year Responsible Fatherhood project. Prior to joining HighScope, Dr. Wakabayashi served as research manager for Parents as Teachers, was a lecturer in the Child and Adolescent Development Department of San Jose State University, and served as a postdoctoral research coordinator in the Center for Infant Studies in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University.
A magna cum laude graduate of Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, Dr. Wakabayashi, earned a master’s degree in child study at Tufts University, was a research student at Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan, and earned both a masters of education and a doctor of education degree in human development and psychology from Harvard University Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has been published in several peer-reviewed journals including the American Journal of Evaluation. She has also given presentations at conferences including the National Head Start Conference, a Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Parents as Teachers Annual Conference, and the World Congress of Applied Linguistics.
Opening Address Speaker
W. Steven Barnett, PhD
W. Steven Barnett is Board of Governors Professor of Education and Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. His research includes studies of the economics of early care and education including costs and benefits, the long-term effects of preschool programs on children's learning and development, and the distribution of educational opportunities. Dr. Barnett earned his PhD in economics at the University of Michigan. He began his career studying early childhood programs by working on the age 19 follow-up of the HighScope Perry Preschool program.
Lindy Buch, PhD
Lindy Buch is director of Early Childhood Education and Family Services in the Office of Great Start at the Michigan Department of Education. The Office of Great Start was created in 2011 to integrate services for young children and their families focusing on birth to age 8 outcomes. Prior to joining the Michigan Department of Education in 1994, Dr. Buch was a preschool special education teacher, child care center teacher and director, and faculty member in early childhood and elementary education. Her own research focused on retention in early childhood programs, particularly two-year kindergarten sequence programs.
Dr. Buch is a “charter” member of the Council of Chief State School Officers’ State Collaborative on Early Childhood Education Assessment. She is a past president of the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children and a past president of the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE), as well as a past member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) professional development panel and nominating panel. She currently serves NAEYC as a member of the steering committee for the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative. Dr. Buch was co-chair of the joint NAEYC and NAECS/SDE committee that revised the position statement on curriculum, assessment and program evaluation. Dr. Buch also served on the National Early Childhood Accountability Task Force, funded by the PEW Charitable Trusts. She was one of 22 Early Childhood Policy Leadership Fellows sponsored by the National Governors Association and Zero to Three.
Hank Levin, PhD
Henry "Hank" Levin is the William Heard Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University and David Jacks Professor of Higher Education and Economics Emeritus at Stanford University. He is also the director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education and codirector of The Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education. Having lectured widely in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, Dr. Levin began his career at the Brookings Institution where he also worked as a long-term substitute teacher in the Washington, DC, public school system.
As the founder and director of the Accelerated Schools Project, Dr. Levin championed increased access to challenging curricula for at-risk children, a model now used in about 1,000 schools in the United States and abroad. Having written more than 300 articles and authored or edited 20 books, Dr. Levin is also a committee member for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Program for International Student Assessment, the National Research Council, and the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Levin has written extensively about economic issues in education including privatization, school choice, and the social costs of inadequate education.
Fred Morrison, PhD
Fred Morrison is a professor in the School of Education and Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Morrison's research focuses on the nature and sources of literacy acquisition in children during the transition to school. Through his research, he has uncovered surprisingly large individual differences among children in important cognitive, language, and social skills even before they begin school.
Dr. Morrison is a co-investigator on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. This national study has been following more than 1,000 children since birth in 10 different sites around the nation, focusing on the impact of different contexts (family, childcare, school) on children's psychological growth. Dr. Morrison received his PhD from Harvard University.
Sherri Oden, PhD
Sherri Oden is an associate professor and PhD coordinator at the School of Education and Human Services at Oakland University in Michigan. Before joining the Oakland University faculty, Dr. Oden was a senior research associate at HighScope Educational Research Foundation in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Dr. Oden has been a professor at the Graduate School of Wheelock College in Boston and the University of Rochester in New York, and she served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Wayne State University. In addition, Dr. Oden has been a social science research associate at the University of Michigan and an education associate at Harvard University.
Dr. Oden has been principal investigator of several major studies, including studies of the national Head Start program and a national, follow-up case study of the current lives of former Head Start children and families, published in the National Head Start Association Research Quarterly. Dr. Oden was also co-investigator of the HighScope Head Start Quality Research Center, one of several national research centers that conducted many studies in cooperation with the Head Start Bureau, US Administration for Children and Families.
Larry Schweinhart, PhD
Larry Schweinhart is an early childhood program researcher and speaker for policy makers, educators, and advocates throughout the US and around the world. He has served as president of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation in Ypsilanti, Michigan, since 2003. He has conducted research there since 1975 and chaired its research division from 1989 to 2003. He has directed the following projects:
The HighScope Perry Preschool Study, the landmark study establishing the great human and financial potential of high-quality early childhood programs, now with data through age 40
The HighScope Preschool Curriculum Comparison Study, which provides evidence that child-initiated learning activities are central to high-quality early childhood programs
The longitudinal evaluation of the Michigan School Readiness Program, the state’s preschool program for children at risk of school failure
HighScope’s Head Start Quality Research Center, a 10-year effort that evaluated the effects of intensive HighScope curriculum training on Head Start teachers and children
The development and validation of the Child Observation Record (COR) child assessment instrument as a way to assess young children’s development from infancy through age six
Dr. Schweinhart received his PhD in Education from Indiana University in 1975 and has taught elementary school and college courses. He and his wife have two children and five grandchildren.
Deborah Stipek, PhD
Deborah Stipek is a professor in the School of Education at Stanford University. Dr. Stipek served as the I. James Quillen Dean and Professor of Education of Stanford from 2001 to 2011. Her interests include instructional effects on children's achievement motivation, early childhood education, elementary education and school reform, as well as policies surrounding children and education. She previously served on the Board for Children, Youth and Families at the National Research Council; was the Chair of National Research Council Committee for Increasing High School Students' Engagement and Motivation to Learn; and directed the MacArthur Foundation Network on Teaching and Learning. Before joining Stanford, Dr. Stipek was a professor of education at UCLA and director of the Corinne Seeds University Elementary School and the Urban Education Studies Center.
Margie Wallen, MA
Over the course of Margie Wallen’s 15-year tenure at the Ounce of Prevention Fund in Chicago, she has played numerous roles in advocating for public policies and investments that promote the healthy development of children from birth to age five. As Director of Policy Partnerships for National Policy at the Ounce, Ms. Wallen provides strategic consultation to state public and private sector leaders to successfully advance policies and funding for high-quality early learning and development programs that support educational success, good health, and strong families for vulnerable children from birth to age five.
Prior to her current role, Ms. Wallen coordinated the work of the Illinois Early Learning Council, which developed the Preschool for All report upon which Illinois’ birth-to-five Preschool for All program is built. She has more than 28 years of experience in public policy and has consulted on a variety of state initiatives to enhance access to high-quality early care and education, including designing and implementing a comprehensive early childhood professional development system. Ms. Wallen is a member of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership’s Advisory Board and a former State Early Childhood Policy Leadership Forum Fellow.
Ann Kalass serves as chief executive officer of Starfish Family Services in Inkster, Michigan, leading the $13 million agency since June 2007. Since her appointment, Ms. Kalass has worked with the board of directors to write a three-year strategic plan, has overseen the Council on Accreditation site review, and has built new community alliances and partnerships. Under Ms. Kalass' direction, Starfish has opened a family resource center at its agency headquarters in Inkster and opened an additional lifespan clinical services site in Westland.
Prior to her appointment at Starfish, Ms. Kalass garnered 20 years of corporate experience, most recently with Ford Motor Company in the areas of marketing, advertising, and corporate communications. She has combined her past business experience and strong leadership skills to promote the Starfish mission to strengthen families.
While Ms. Kalass has enjoyed many career successes, she has always placed great importance on her role as wife and mother of two children. As a working mother who benefits from a strong education and other personal resources, she is sympathetic to the plight of struggling families whose choices are limited. She has built on the agency’s vision and 46-year legacy to take Starfish Family Services to the next level, growing its impact on community children and families.
Susan Neuman, PhD
Susan B. Neuman is a professor in educational studies specializing in early literacy development at the University of Michigan. Previously, she has served as the US Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education. Dr. Neuman is especially proud of her work in establishing the Early Reading First program, the Early Childhood Professional Development Education Program, and enhancing accountability efforts to improve children's achievement. At the University of Michigan, she has directed the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement, focusing on early childhood policy, curriculum, and early reading instruction.
Dr. Neuman is director of the Michigan Research Program on Ready to Learn, which includes projects all working to change the odds for children in poverty. Prior to coming to the University of Michigan, she was a professor at Temple University; the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; and Eastern Connecticut State University. She has written many books and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in prestigious journals.
Jim Squires, PhD
Jim Squires serves as senior research fellow at the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University following an extensive career in early childhood education and family development. In his current position, Dr. Squires conducts research on national early education policy and practices, focusing on prekindergarten and school readiness. His work at NIEER involves monitoring trends in early childhood policy, regulation, and funding across several target states; serving as a liaison to states to collect data for the annual State of Preschool Yearbook; and providing technical assistance on standards, curriculum, and assessment in early education, state early childhood data systems, and kindergarten transition.
Dr. Squires was formerly the early childhood programs coordinator at the Vermont Department of Education and past president of the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education, and currently serves on the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Council for Accreditation. He has taught and directed programs for young children in child care, Head Start, public schools, migrant education, and university lab schools, as well as serving as adjunct faculty at the University of Vermont, Champlain College, and Community College of Vermont.
Richard Lower currently serves as supervisor of the Preschool and Early Elementary Programs within the Office of Great Start of the Michigan Department of Education. He is responsible for the administration of the Great Start Readiness Program, Early Childhood Special Education, and 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which total roughly $150 million in grants to a variety of school entities and community-based organizations statewide. Prior to this position, he served as executive director of the Michigan Head Start Association and has worked in the nonprofit arena focused on children, youth, and family budget and policy development. In these roles, he has been a developer of Michigan’s early childhood system and now utilizes past experiences in being a partner to develop and bridge with Michigan’s emerging out-of-school time system. He also serves as adjunct faculty in psychology for Lansing Community College.