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Debra Shaver

Principal Researcher, SRI Education

Debra Shaver, PhD, has 30 years of experience in education and social science research and evaluation. She has developed research plans, designed data collection instruments, conducted quantitative and qualitative analyses, and written reports and publications for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. She has also provided state agencies, schools, and nonprofit organizations with technical assistance on evaluation design, analysis, and interpretation for policy and practice. Much of her work has centered on improving learning and the quality of life for children and youth with disabilities. She is currently leading SRI’s work on an evaluation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Pilot Community Initiative, focused on improving outcomes for students with disabilities in charter schools.

Shaver is a certified reviewer for the What Works Clearinghouse, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES). She has reviewed approximately 100 research studies to evaluate the scientific merit of their research designs and the strength of their evidence for educational interventions. Shaver was co-principal investigator on a grant from IES, leading SRI’s work in examining factors associated with high school and post-high outcomes of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. She and her team applied propensity score matching techniques to data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) to identify factors associated with outcomes in the academic, social/behavioral, vocational, and functional domains. Shaver studies and provides technical assistance on effective implementation of evidence-based practices and methods for continuous quality improvement. As co-principal investigator for the Model Demonstration Coordination Center, she directed the center’s work with model demonstration and technology implementation projects intended to improve outcomes for students through evidence-based educational programs, practices, and tools. This work focused on identifying the characteristics of an effective implementation and model refinement process—one that moves from early testing to full implementation and sustainment. For the IDEA Data Center and the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems, Shaver has provided state agency staff with technical assistance on how to collect, analyze, and use high-quality data for systemic improvement efforts. She recently co-authored a continuous improvement toolkit for educators, and she provides technical assistance on continuous improvement methods and building capacity for systems change for the First2 Alliance to improve STEM persistence in West Virginia, funded by the National Science Foundation. Through these and other projects, she has developed tools and resources to help organizations and individuals build capacity in using data for ongoing improvement work. Shaver received a PhD in sociology of education from Stanford University.

Key projects

  1. First2 Alliance
  2. Evaluation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Pilot Initiative
  3. Model Demonstration Coordination Center
  4. Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems
  5. IDEA Data Center
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