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Donna Spiker

Senior Early Childhood Researcher, SRI Education

Donna Spiker, PhD, is a nationally known developmental psychologist with experience designing and conducting research and evaluations on the effects of early intervention, early care and education, school readiness programs and services for infants and young children and their families and leading technical assistance centers to support states build high-quality early learning systems and use data for continuous improvement. She has expertise in the development and assessment of infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities and other risk conditions, and in programs and services to support them.

Since 2012, Spiker has been co-leading the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy Center), an Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)-funded technical assistance (TA) center. The DaSy Center provides state agencies with TA and resources to support them in collecting, reporting, analyzing, and using data and enhance state data systems for early intervention and early childhood special education programs supported through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). She was also the associate director of the national Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) Center for OSEP, a research and TA project to develop approaches to child outcome measurement systems for the two IDEA programs for young children with disabilities birth through age 5.  She 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.

Over the decades, Spiker has led a number of large complex statewide early childhood evaluations and needs assessment projects such as statewide evaluations of the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant, of First 5 California’s early childhood programs to support school readiness, and of Illinois’ Early Childhood Block Grant Program (statewide birth through age 5 home visiting and preschool programs) for the Illinois State Board of Education. She co-led subcontracts as the independent evaluator for two U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation initiative grants. One grant with the Erikson Institute evaluated a P3 early math professional development model and the other was with the University of Minnesota to evaluate a multisite expansion of the Chicago Parent Child (CPC) P3 model (Evaluation of the Midwest Expansion of the CPC Education Program).

Previously, at Stanford University, she was clinical director of an autism genetics study, chief psychologist in the Stanford Autism Clinic for nearly 10 years and 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. She serves on editorial boards of several early childhood journals, is a Fellow in the Division of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities of the American Psychological Association.

Key projects

  • The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy Center)
  • Achieving High Standards for Pre-K–Grade 3 Mathematics: A Whole Teacher Approach to Professional Development (Teacher Development in Chicago Public Schools)
  • Evaluation of the Midwest Expansion of the Chicago Parent Child Education Program
  • National Early Intervention Longitudinal Study (NEILS)
  • National Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) Center – OSEP
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