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Margaret Gillis

Senior Researcher, SRI Education

Margaret C. Gillis, PhD, is an experienced researcher and technical assistance specialist with expertise in early childhood workforce development, early intervention and early childhood special education systems and services, infant/toddler development and learning, inclusive practices, and evaluation. She uses mixed qualitative and quantitative methods in applied research and technical assistance to understand complex concepts and support programs and systems. Gillis leads and evaluates projects focused on the early childhood workforce, inclusion, and systemic improvement.

Gillis directs an Administration for Children and Families-funded research-policy partnership project in collaboration with the California Department of Education to understand the inclusion of preschoolers with disabilities receiving subsidies in early learning and care settings. She works with states to support their Preschool Development Grant work focused on the early childhood workforce and program quality. In addition, Gillis leads the evaluation of a hybrid professional development course provided by PBS stations aimed at increasing early childhood professionals’ knowledge and skills in using playful learning and technology to support STEM learning.

Gillis provides technical assistance to IDEA Part C and Part B Section 619 state agencies in collecting, analyzing, and using data for accountability and program improvement through the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy) and has supported systemic improvement through the National Center for Systemic Improvement. She has developed tools for and supported states in examining their child find systems, identifying best practices for continuous improvement, and improving evaluation of the implementation of evidence-based practices. Through the Center to Improve Program and Project Performance (CIPP), Gillis supports Office of Special Education grantees in high-quality evaluations aligned with project logic models.

Gillis has been a reviewer for federal grant competitions and a peer reviewer for several journals, including those published by the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the National Head Start Association. She is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences.

Before joining SRI, Gillis was assistant professor and codirector of undergraduate and graduate interdisciplinary early childhood programs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She began her career as a direct service provider for children ages birth through kindergarten with and without disabilities in a variety of settings. Gillis earned her PhD in education with a focus on early childhood, special education, and literacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also holds a master’s of education in risk and prevention: childhood from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and a bachelor’s of science in child development: birth-kindergarten from Appalachian State University.

Key projects

  1. The Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy)
  2. The Center to Improve Program & Project Performance (CIPP)
  3. Inclusion in California Early Learning and Care
  4. Nevada Ready! B-3 Alignment
  5. Ready to Learn
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