CSRQ Center Experts

Jennifer Harmon

Jennifer Harmon is a Senior Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). At AIR, she serves as the Project Director of the Supplemental Educational Services Quality (SESQ) Center and the Deputy Project Director of the Comprehensive School Reform Quality (CSRQ) Center. Both national centers are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and emphasize translating policy and research into user-friendly guidance and technical assistance tools. Jennifer led the development of the SESQ Center’s nationally recognized website (www.tutorsforkids.org) and produced widely used tools to help states, districts, providers and families understand and implement the Supplemental Educational Services (SES) provision of the No Child Left Behind Act (NLCB). For example, Jennifer led the development of the Center’s Providers’ Toolkit for Supplemental Educational Services and the SES in Action: A Toolkit for Parent and Community Leaders. Under contract to CCSSO, Jennifer also led the development and writing for the State Education Agency Toolkit on Supplemental Educational Services, which has been adapted by more than half of the states. Jennifer has extensive experience developing technical assistance networks and has provided direct consultation to providers, community organizations, states, and districts to help them address challenges in SES implementation, including evaluating SES providers, reaching out to parents, and recruiting, approving and contracting with providers. Jennifer has delivered numerous presentations to organizations representing SES providers, district and state policymakers, educators, parents, as well as faith-based and community-based organizations. A certified Secondary School English teacher, Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science from George Peabody College at Vanderbilt University and a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University.


Jessica Heppen

Jessica Heppen holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Rutgers University.  She has over five years of experience in education research and policy and over ten years of experience in conducting research in the areas of education, health care, stereotypes of special populations, and student identity and self-esteem.  Dr. Heppen is currently the co-Task Leader for the Comprehensive School Reform Quality (CSRQ) Center, having recently co-authored a review of the effectiveness of 22 widely used school reform models.  She has also served as the Deputy Project Coordinator for the What Works Clearinghouse elementary school mathematics intervention reviews.  Dr. Heppen has strong methodological expertise in designing, conducting, and evaluating the rigor of research studies of education interventions.  Prior to working at AIR, Dr. Heppen conducted program evaluation studies of the impact of educational technology interventions on student achievement for Classroom, Inc., in New York City.  Dr. Heppen also taught courses in social psychology and quantitative methods for four years at Rutgers University.


Marlene Darwin

Marlene Darwin has extensive experience in the area of research-to-practice in literacy, including 15 years of classroom experience. Dr. Darwin received her Ph.D. in education from George Mason University with specialties in literacy and educational leadership; her dissertation concerned the role of reading specialists in secondary classrooms. Dr. Darwin received national recognition from the International Reading Association for her work in secondary content classrooms.  She was also recognized as Reading Teacher of the Year in Virginia for 2002.

In her role as a Research Analyst at AIR, Dr. Darwin serves as Co-Task Leader to produce the Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center’s five consumer-like reports on comprehensive school reform and education service provider models.  In this role, she researched numerous reform models, communicated with model providers, wrote detailed descriptions of models, and provided technical assistance for reform at a state summit.

Also at AIR, Dr. Darwin she participated on the development of the 2009 Framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress Test for Reading and as a Lead Monitor on the Reading First Monitoring Project.  As Lead Monitor, Dr. Darwin has trained new monitors, revised interview protocols as well as developed new interview protocols, and made 19 site visits to 14 different states.  On the Adult Education Program Standards project, Dr. Darwin developed the reading taxonomy to be used along with technical assistance for states in the development of adult education literacy program standards.