Sarah Nixon Gerard

senior Researcher, SRI Education

Sarah Nixon Gerard conducts program evaluation and policy research, drawing on her experience as a prekindergarten classroom teacher for her work in early childhood development and educational technology. Gerard co-leads a range of research, evaluation, and consulting projects, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Ready To Learn Initiative evaluation, relying on years of experience studying the efficacy of educational media designed to support learning for young children from low-income families. She also co-leads the Early Childhood Classroom Observation (ECCO) Study, designed to understand how video recordings can support the measurement of high-quality instruction in preschool classrooms.

Gerard has experience developing study designs, designing a variety of data collection instruments and assessments, conducting classroom observations and focus groups, and analyzing data.. Gerard co-led the development of a series of innovative assessments designed to evaluate young children’s understanding of science content and science and engineering practices. She has co-authored evaluation reports on science-focused media for young children and a national 1:1 classroom technology initiative. She is particularly invested in research projects that develop, implement, and evaluate systems of learning for economically and socially disadvantaged communities. Gerard’s work on the Evaluation of Mobile Messaging on Responsive Caregiving focused on evaluating the impact of two mobile messaging programs intended to improve responsive caregiving, attitudes, knowledge, and confidence of parents and caregivers of young children. Some of Gerard’s past work focused on measuring and improving the quality of K–12 STEM education for the National Science Foundation.

Gerard’s publications include an article in Early Childhood Research Quarterly and presentations at meetings of the American Educational Research Association, the American Evaluation Association, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Society for Research in Child Development, and the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, among others.

Before joining SRI, Gerard taught prekindergarten in Washington, D.C. and worked on Capitol Hill in the offices of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator Jack Reed. Gerard received an interdisciplinary BA in communications, legal institutions, economics, and government from American University, and an MPP with a concentration on education, social, and family policy from Georgetown University.

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