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Donna Spiker

Program Manager, SRI Education

Donna Spiker, Ph.D., is a nationally known developmental psychologist with extensive experience designing and conducting research and evaluations on the effects of early intervention, early care and education, and school readiness programs and services for infants and young children and their families. She has strong expertise in the development and assessment of infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities and other risk conditions, including autism, developmental delay, Down syndrome, behavioral disorders, low birth weight, and poverty, and in programs and services to support them.

Currently, Spiker coleads the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy Center), a five-year Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)-funded technical assistance (TA) center. The DaSy Center provides state agencies with TA and resources to assist with the development or enhancement of data systems for early intervention and early childhood special education programs supported through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Spiker also is coleading an independent evaluation of a pay for success (PFS) project that is using PFS funding of an expansion of the Child-Parent Center (CPC) model in Chicago. During the 2014–15 school year, a team of investors (Goldman Sachs Social Impact Fund, The Northern Trust, and The JB and MK Pritzker Family Foundation) began providing funding for preschool slots in Chicago Public Schools. The CPC expansion project anticipates serving four cohorts of children across eight sites in Chicago, with between 2,400 and 2,800 children receiving a high-quality preschool experience. SRI’s evaluation is tracking the children’s kindergarten readiness, third-grade literacy, and special education placement over six years, with the first cohort reaching fourth grade in the final year of the evaluation.

Spiker has co-led subcontracts as the independent evaluator for two U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation grants. One grant with the Erikson Institute evaluated a preschool to third grade early math professional development model (Achieving High Standards for Pre-K–Grade 3 Mathematics: A Whole Teacher Approach to Professional Development), and the other was with the University of Minnesota to evaluate a multisite expansion of the Chicago Child-Parent Center preschool to third grade model (Evaluation of the Midwest Expansion of the CPC Education Program).

Spiker also recently led an evaluation of the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) Funds to Promote Access to High-Quality Programs for children with high needs. Earlier, Spiker was the principal investigator of the evaluation of the Saint Paul Early Childhood Scholarship Pilot Program for the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation, an innovative market-based early childhood model to increase the access to and quality of preschool and child care programs for children living in low-income neighborhoods. She also led a subcontract to the Erikson Institute to evaluate the Illinois Early Childhood Block Grant Program (statewide birth through age 5 programs) for the Illinois State Board of Education.

Spiker was associate director of the national Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) Center for OSEP assisting states to build high-quality outcomes measurement systems. She completed a grant to conduct secondary data analysis with a national Head Start dataset. She previously codirected the Statewide Evaluation of First 5 California Funded Programs, with primary responsibility for evaluation of the First 5 initiatives to support school readiness and promote universal developmental screening.

She also codirected the National Early Intervention Longitudinal Study (NEILS), the first study of early intervention for infant and toddlers with disabilities and their families with a nationally representative sample. Previously, at Stanford University, she was clinical director of an autism genetics study, was chief psychologist in the Stanford Autism Clinic for nearly 10 years, and was deputy director of the Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP), a multisite randomized study of early intervention for low-birth-weight infants and toddlers.

Spiker has written numerous articles and book chapters about the development and assessment of infants and young children. She is a frequent presenter at national and international professional conferences and consults on research and clinical early childhood projects across the United States. She serves on the editorial boards of a number of journals devoted to research about young children, is a Fellow in the Division of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities of the American Psychological Association, and is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of London.

Spiker earned her Ph.D. in child development from the University of Minnesota.

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