Symposium on Graduation Rates: About the
Robert Balfanz is a research scientist at the Center
for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University.
He is the associate director of the Talent Development
Middle and High School Project, which is currently working
with more than fifty high-poverty secondary schools to
develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive whole-school
reforms. His work focuses on translating research findings
into effective reforms for high-poverty secondary schools.
He has published widely on secondary school reform, high
school dropouts, and instructional interventions in high-poverty
schools. Recent work includes Locating the Dropout Crisis,
with coauthor Nettie Legters, in which the number and
location of high schools with high dropout rates are identified.
Dr. Balfanz is currently the lead investigator on a middle
school dropout prevention project in collaboration with
the Philadelphia Education Fund, which is supported by
the William Penn Foundation. Dr. Balfanz has also been
the coauthor of a number of mathematics curriculums, including
University of Chicago School Mathematics Project Everyday
Mathematics and Big Math for Little Kids.
Duncan Chaplin is a senior research methodologist at
the Urban Institute. As a specialist in labor economics
and econometrics, he focuses on improving the methods
used to estimate impacts of various education policies
on academic and nonacademic student outcomes. He has worked
closely on the graduation rates issue, having published
"Tassles on the Cheap," in the journal Education
Next, and GEDs for Teenagers: Are There Unintended Consequences?
He has coauthored Counting High School Graduates When
Graduates Count: Measuring Graduation Rates under the
High Stakes of NCLB, with Dr. Christopher Swanson. Dr.
Chaplin teaches as an adjunct faculty member at the Georgetown
Public Policy Institute, and in December 2003 he was named
to a national expert panel on high school graduation and
Greg Forster is a senior research associate at the Manhattan
Institute's Education Research Office. He is the coauthor
of studies evaluating vouchers, charter schools, high-stakes
testing, special education funding, and other education
issues. He has also published op-ed articles in the Washington
Post, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and other
Moira Lenehan is the education and student loan legislative
assistant for U.S. Representative Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX).
Ms. Lenehan has extensive public policy experience in
the field of education as well as in working with nonprofit
organizations, including the Hispanic Association of Colleges
and Universities, the National Association for Migrant
Education, and the Hispanic Education Coalition. She serves
as Congressman Hinojosa's committee liaison on all education
and workforce issues. She is also the staff liaison to
the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. In addition to education
and labor issues, Ms. Lenehan also covers immigration,
welfare reform, child care, and civil rights.
Robert Lerner was appointed on December 26, 2003, by
President George W. Bush to serve as commissioner of education
statistics. As commissioner, he heads the National Center
for Education Statistics (NCES), within the U.S. Department
of Education's Institute of Education Sciences. The duties
of the center are to collect, report, analyze, and disseminate
statistical data related to education in the United States
and other nations. Dr. Lerner has been a partner in the
statistical research firm Lerner and Nagai Quantitative
Consulting, in addition to having conducted research for
and been an instructor at several colleges and universities.
Daniel J. Losen is a law and policy associate with the
Civil Rights Project (CRP) and a lecturer on law at Harvard
Law School. His work at CRP concerns the impact of federal,
state, and local education law and policy on students
of color. His work includes analysis of the implementation
of the No Child Left Behind Act. He most recently coauthored
the report Losing Our Future, which was written with Gary
Orfield, Johanna Wald, and Chris Swanson and released
jointly with the Urban Institute and Advocates for Children
of New York. His research on NCLB and related matters
culminated in a recent article, "Challenging Racial
Disparities: The Promise and Pitfalls of the No Child
Left Behind Act's Race-Conscious Accountability,"
which was published in the Howard Law Journal's "Brown
at 50 Special Edition" (Winter 2004). He is also
a cowriter of No Child Left Behind: Educational and Advocacy
Video Series and Resource Guide.
Doug Mesecar is the deputy chief of staff for the U.S.
Department of Education. As a senior advisor to Secretary
Rod Paige, he provides strategic guidance, policy recommendations,
and research on the implementation of the No Child Left
Behind Act and other departmental initiatives and programs.
Previously, he was chief of staff for the Office of Elementary
and Secondary Education at the department. Prior to joining
the department, he was a professional staff member for
the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where
he helped draft NCLB and other legislative initiatives.
Before coming to Washington, D.C., he taught fifth grade
in the Jefferson County public school system near Denver,
Scott Palmer is a partner at Holland & Knight LLP
in Washington, DC, where he works on education and government
relations matters-providing legal, policy, and advocacy
services to education leaders across the nation. Mr. Palmer's
focus is on preventive law-helping education leaders understand
how to structure their programs in ways that best serve
their educational goals and meet federal and state legal
requirements, thereby improving education on the front
end while reducing the risk of litigation or enforcement
on the back end. Mr. Palmer currently works with multiple
states, school districts, universities, associations,
and other education institutions on issues such as the
No Child Left Behind Act, standards reform and testing,
services for English language learners, services for students
with disabilities, and diversity programs. Mr. Palmer
served until January 2001 in the Clinton Administration
as deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of
Education's Office for Civil Rights. Mr. Palmer previously
served as a legal and policy adviser with the President's
Initiative on Race in the White House, where he was responsible
for education and civil rights issues.
Dr. Christopher B. Swanson
Christopher B. Swanson is a research associate
at the Urban Institute's Education Policy Center. Dr. Swanson
is currently leading an evaluation sponsored by the U.S.
Department of Education to examine the implementation and
impacts of expanded forms of flexibility over the use of
federal education funding authorized under the No Child
Left Behind Act. Dr. Swanson is also the co-principal investigator
of a large five-year evaluation of an extensive high school
reform initiative being implemented in the Baltimore City
Public School System. During the past several years, much
of his research has focused on issues of urban high school
reform involving small school restructuring and on the implementation
of the accountability provisions of the No Child Left Behind
Act. In particular he has investigated the persistent challenges
associated with accurately measuring high school graduation
rates, a required performance-based accountability measure
under the federal law. Dr. Swanson's research on a variety
of educational policy issues-among them standards and accountability,
instructional reform, high school dropout and completion,
student mobility, and public school choice-has been presented
at national conferences and published in leading scholarly
journals. Recent works on graduation rates include Who Graduates?
Who Doesn't?, published by the Urban Institute, and a new
article in the December 2004 edition of Principal Leadership.