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Erika Gaylor

Principal Senior Researcher and Early Childhood Program Leader, SRI Education

Erika Gaylor, PhD, uses mixed-methods designs to study both the implementation and impact of policies, programs, and practices affecting young children and their families with expertise in developmental assessments, early literacy and math, social-emotional competence, and high-quality instruction and environments. Gaylor and colleagues have collaborated with several states to explore innovative policies and programs that increase access to, and improve the quality of, early care and education (ECE) programs for young children. This work has included a study of a pilot program to provide scholarships for low-income families to use at high-quality ECE programs and several projects exploring Pay for Success financing as a means to expand access to evidence-based high-quality early learning opportunities. Gaylor served as the principal investigator of a recently completed 4-year comprehensive evaluation of the Preschool Development Grant in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Current projects include leading the data collection of an EIR-funded expansion grant to examine the scale-up of a preschool math curriculum for low-income children in Head Start and public preschool classrooms, leading the assessment team of an IES-funded efficacy study of an integrated science and literacy curriculum for first grade classrooms, and serving as the co-principal investigator of an IES-funded measurement grant, working with colleagues at Erikson Institute to develop an observational tool to measure the quality of math instruction in preschool classrooms.

Other projects focused on workforce supports for individuals working with young children and their families, including the RISE (Researching Implementation Support Experiences) home visiting evaluation conducted in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Early Learning to examine workforce supports in home visiting programs supported by Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) funds. Gaylor has also explored how best to support preschool teachers’ self-efficacy in mathematics to increase their confidence and intentional math instruction in a variety of preschool settings, including school-based preschool programs and Head Start centers.

Gaylor also has expertise in early childhood social-emotional development (e.g., consulting on a guide for program administrators to reduce suspensions and expulsions in early care and education settings) and serving as the principal investigator of a project under an Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant to examine the impact of scaling the Pyramid Model in rural and urban preschool and kindergarten classrooms to reduce behavior challenges and exclusionary discipline practices like suspensions and expulsions.

On the Office of Special Education Programs-funded Model Demonstration Coordination Center for early childhood language intervention project, Gaylor was responsible for developing common measures and synthesizing outcomes for three projects across the country. For First 5 California, she was responsible for consulting with local, county, and state stakeholders to analyze and report on population- and community-level data to inform policy decisions.

Gaylor is the author of several reports and briefs, as well peer-reviewed publications and regularly presents her work at scholarly conferences. She is certified reviewer for the What Works Clearinghouse and has led multiple studies that have met WWC standards. Gaylor earned her PhD in human development from the University of California, Davis and a BS in psychology from the University of Iowa.

Key projects

  • Scaling up Pyramid Model Implementation in Preschool and Kindergarten Classrooms (EIR)
  • Collaborative Math: Creating Sustainable Excellence in Mathematics for Head Start Programs (NSF)
  • Virginia Preschool Initiative – Plus (VPI+) Comprehensive Evaluation (PDG/state)
  • Model Demonstration Coordination Center (MDCC) (OSEP)
  • Evaluation of the Midwest Expansion of the CPC Education Program (i3)
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