Our Team

Our team of experts have decades of experience in all aspects of English Learner education. WestEd, the lead institution for the Center, has partnered with a world-class research team from three universities: the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) at UCLA.

WestEd logo
University of Oregon logo
Oregon State University logo

National Research and Development Center to Improve Education for Secondary English Learners


Aída Walqui, PhD



Coursetaking Study

Li Cai

Li Cai, PhD



Dr. Cai serves as the Co-Principal Investigator on the Coursetaking study. He is Professor of Advanced Quantitative Methodology at the University of California, Los Angeles and is Director of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, which houses ELPA21.

Cai has contributed broadly to the educational measurement and statistical methodology literature, with over 100 peer-reviewed papers, chapters, and reports covering a broad span of item response theory, multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling, statistical computation, and substantive topics in psychological and educational measurement. Dr. Li holds a PhD from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Edynn Sato

Edynn Sato, PhD



Dr. Sato serves as Co-Investigator on the Coursetaking study. She is a Researcher in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles and serves as Research Director for ELPA21. She has over 25 years of experience in education research focused on student learning, instruction, and assessment, particularly diverse learners.


Throughout her career, Dr. Sato has provided technical assistance to local and state education agencies, the federal government, and foreign ministries of education. She has served as principal investigator on a number of successful federally funded projects and multi-million-dollar education contracts that serve the needs of English Learners. Dr. Sato holds a PhD from UCLA.

Karen Thompson

Karen Thompson, PhD



Dr. Thompson serves as the Co-Principal Investigator on the Coursetaking study. She is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Oregon State University and has extensive experience partnering with education agencies to analyze longitudinal data that affect EL policy and practice.


Since 2014, she has led an EL-focused research-practice partnership with the Oregon Department of Education, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences and the Spencer Foundation. She has conducted research about secondary math coursetaking for students who were currently, formerly, or never English Learners in seven California districts. Dr. Thompson holds a PhD from Stanford University.

Ilana Umansky

Ilana Umansky, PhD



Dr. Umansky serves as the Co-Principal Investigator on the Coursetaking study. She is an Assistant Professor of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership at the University of Oregon. Her work explores how education policy impacts the educational opportunities and outcomes of immigrant, multilingual, and English learner-classified students using large-scale data and longitudinal and quasi-experimental methods. She often works in research-practice partnerships with states and districts to advance equitable school systems for immigrant and multilingual students. Dr. Umansky holds a PhD from Stanford University.


Co-Teaching Study

Amanda Kibler

Amanda Kibler, PhD



Dr. Kibler serves as Co-Principal Investigator on the Co-Teaching study. She is a Professor in the College of Education at Oregon State University and has extensive experience in qualitative and mixed-methods research focused on the classroom experiences of secondary English Learners and their teachers.


A former ESL teacher at the secondary level, she has served as Principal Investigator on several grants including one from the William T. Grant Foundation on peer interaction in middle school classrooms with English Learners. She presents regularly at international conferences for practitioners (e.g., TESOL, AAAL) and has published extensively in the field of multilingualism and secondary English Learner education. Dr. Kibler holds a PhD from Stanford University.

Martha Castellon Palacios

Martha Castellón Palacios, PhD



Dr. Castellón Palacios serves as Co-Investigator on the Co-Teaching study and leads the Center’s capacity building and outreach efforts. She is a Senior Research Associate at WestEd, where she provides technical assistance to states and districts.


With expertise in second language acquisition teaching and research, she has led several professional development efforts for teachers and administrators and has served as a reviewer of English Learner programs and services throughout the country. Dr. Castellón Palacios holds a PhD from Stanford University.


ELA Study

Lee Hartman

Lee Hartman, MA



Lee Hartman is an English Language Arts and English Language Development Specialist on the Educative English Language Arts Curriculum Materials study. He is an Education Program Associate on WestEd’s English Learner and Migrant Education Services team. He creates and implements learning experiences for ELA and ELD educators in 4th through 12th grade schools through professional development and lesson design. 


Previously, he served as an ESL instructional coach to teachers working with English Learners and was responsible for creating and implementing secondary ELA and ESL curricula. A former teacher of secondary students, he specializes in the education of language minority students with a particular emphasis on Newcomers.

Mary Schmida

Mary Schmida, PhD



Dr. Schmida is Co-Investigator on the Educative English Language Arts Curriculum Materials study. She is a Senior Research Associate at WestEd and has deep expertise in designing educative ELA curricula for English Learners and in designing and delivering quality professional learning opportunities for educators who work with English Learners.


Dr. Schmida was previously a reading and writing instructor in College Writing Programs at UC Berkeley and also served as the Dean of Academics at a public school in Richmond, CA. Dr. Schmida holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Aida Walqui

Aída Walqui, PhD



Dr. Walqui is the Center Director and Principal Investigator for all four studies. For the last five decades, Dr. Walqui has dedicated her professional life to improving the expertise of teachers and educational leaders to deepen and accelerate the linguistic and academic achievement of English Learners.

Having taught at all levels, Walqui is the author and co-author of multiple articles and books, including The Amplified Curriculum: Designing Quality Learning Opportunities for English Learners, published by Teachers College Press, and Reconceptualizing the Role of Critical Dialogue in American Classrooms: Promoting Equity through Dialogic Education, published by Routledge. At WestEd, Dr. Walqui initiated the Quality Teaching for English Learners initiative. Among the several awards received during her career, in 2016 she was selected by the International TESOL Association as one of the 50 most influential world researchers in applied linguistics. A native of Perú, Dr. Walqui holds a PhD from Stanford University.


Math Study

Haiwen Chu

Haiwen Chu, PhD



Dr. Chu serves as the Co-Principal Investigator on the Educative Math Curriculum Materials study. He is a Senior Research Associate at WestEd and specializes in secondary mathematics education. In this role, he designs educative curriculum materials that expand the expertise of mathematics teachers to support their English Learners.


Dr. Chu has expertise in mixed-methods research design, research-practice partnerships, and longitudinal data analysis.


He publishes widely in venues that reach both practitioners and researchers in mathematics education. Dr. Chu holds a PhD from the City University of New York.

Leslie Hamburger

Leslie Hamburger, MA



Leslie Hamburger serves as Co-Investigator on the Educative Math Curriculum Materials study. She is Senior Managing Director overseeing a portfolio of services that includes English Learners and Migrant Education, Quality Schools and Districts, Education Leadership, and Assessment for Learning.

Her areas of expertise include English Learner pedagogy, mathematics curriculum, and professional learning for teachers of English and dual language learners. She has been a school and district administrator in high-poverty, diverse schools and facilitates professional development for school and district leaders, coaches, and teachers.


Center Staff

Annette Gregg

Annette Gregg, MA



Annette Gregg serves as the Center’s Administrator, overseeing all aspects of its financial and organizational structures and resources. She is Area Director of English Learner and Migrant Education Services at WestEd, where she works with state and local education agencies to provide large-scale professional learning and coaching, technical assistance, and systemic improvement planning for English and Multilingual Learners. 


She is a former bilingual education teacher and holds an MA from the University of California, Berkeley and an EdM from Harvard University in Education Policy and Management.

Patricia Lopez-Hurtado

Patricia López-Hurtado



Patricia López-Hurtado contributes to the Center’s capacity-building and outreach efforts and is responsible for the Center’s web and social media presence. She serves as Program Assistant for WestEd’s English Learner and Migrant Education Services, where she designs and produces print and online materials, in both Spanish and English, for audiences of teachers, students, policymakers, and others.

Advisory Board

Our Advisory Board consists of scholars and practitioners with deep expertise in all areas related to the work of the Center. Collectively, they provide guidance and support to our efforts.

Carol Booth Olson

Carol Booth Olson

Carol Booth Olson is Director of the UCI/National Writing Project, Director of the WRITE Center for Secondary Students, and is Professor of Education at the University of California, Irvine. She is an expert in the teaching of academic writing to English Learners and takes a cognitive strategies approach to teaching text-based analytical writing. Olson has edited three books, including Practical Ideas for Teaching Writing as Process; She is also the author of Helping English Learners to Write: Meeting the Common Core Standards, Grades 6-12 and The Reading/Writing Connection: Strategies for Teaching and Learning in the Secondary Classroom, now in its second edition.

Cynthia Coburn

Cynthia E. Coburn

Cynthia E. Coburn is Professor of Human Development and Social Policy at the School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University. Her research focuses on the relationship between instructional policy and teachers’ classroom practices in urban schools, illuminating the critical issues that face public schools, including the relationship between policy and teachers’ translation of those policies in classrooms. A prolific writer, Coburn was awarded the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association in the first decade of her career in recognition of her contributions to the field of educational research.

Ester de Jong

Ester de Jong

Ester de Jong is both Professor and Director of the College of Education’s School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Florida. A specialist in bilingualism and its development, she teaches courses in bilingual and bicultural education and in curriculum, methods, and assessment for English speakers of other languages. Her research interests include two-way bilingual education and other integrated models for language minority schooling, educational language policy, and teacher preparation for bilingual students. She is co-editor of the book Learning from Emergent Bilingual Latinx Learners in K-12.

Peggy Estrada

Peggy Estrada

Peggy Estrada is an associate research scientist in the Latin American and Latino Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on promoting positive academic achievement and social-emotional development among culturally and linguistically diverse children and adolescents, with a special focus on English Learner and Latino students. In partnership with districts, she answers field-, policy-, and practice-relevant questions using a sociocultural lens and mixed methods. Early in her career, Estrada was a preschool teacher and a public school teacher for migrant education in rural northern California.

Kenji Hakuta

Kenji Hakuta

Kenji Hakuta is the Lee J. Jacks Professor of Education emeritus at Stanford University. An experimental psycholinguist by training, he is noted for his research, practice, and policy work. Hakuta is the author of numerous papers and books, including Mirror of Language: The Debate on Bilingualism and In Other Words: The Science and Psychology of Second Language Acquisition. Hakuta’s career has been guided by the principle of using research to create quality, equitable opportunities for language minoritized students, exemplified in his founding of the Understanding Language Initiative to inform the design and use of new standards with English Learners.

Steve Raudenbush

Stephen Raudenbush

Stephen Raudenbush is the Lewis-Sebring Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Sociology, the College and the Harris School of Public Policy Studies and Chairman of the Committee on Education at the University of Chicago. He is interested in statistical models for child and youth development within social settings such as classrooms, schools, and neighborhoods. He is best known for his work developing hierarchical linear models, with broad applications in the design and analysis of longitudinal and multilevel research. He is currently studying the development of literacy and math skills in early childhood with implications for instruction; and methods for assessing school and classroom quality. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences the recipient of the American Educational Research Association award for Distinguished Contributions to Educational Research.

Gabriela Uro

Gabriela Uro

Gabriela Uro is the Director for English Language Learner Policy and Research for the Council of the Great City Schools, where she is responsible for all matters pertaining to English Language Learners (ELLs). As part of the legislative team, she works on legislative matters relevant to ELLs, both with Capitol Hill and the Administration. She is the lead for Strategic Support Teams reviewing ELL programs in Council districts, and provides technical assistance, as needed. She is the Council’s lead for ELL issues related to the implementation of new state standards.

Guadalupe Valdes

Guadalupe Valdés

Guadalupe Valdés is Bonnie Katz Tenenbaum Professor of Education at Stanford University. During her influential career she has researched issues of bilingualism, language use in families and communities, language assessment, giftedness in bilingual students, and the tensions of  classifying and labelling students studying in intercultural, multilingual settings. Among her many books are two classics in the literature, Con Respeto: Bridging the Distances between Culturally Diverse Families and Schools: An Ethnographic Portrait, and Learning and Not Learning English: Latino Students in American Schools. A prolific writer, she has also authored and co-authored over 130 articles.