Our Team

Russell Swinburne Romine

Principal Investigator

Dr. Swinburne Romine holds a PhD in Educational Psychology with a focus in assessment of reading comprehension from the University of Minnesota. He is the Associate Director of ATLAS and the Associate Director for Test Development, Production, and Learning Maps for the DLM Consortium. He currently oversees more than 40 staff members responsible for the design and delivery of DLM assessments in ELA, mathematics and science. Dr. Swinburne Romine has more than 5 years of experience in the development of large-scale assessments using principles of Evidence-Centered Design and Universal Design for Learning. He is currently the principal investigator of the Shared Writing Instructional Model for Students with Intellectual Disabilities project (H326M180010) and a co-investigator on two Enhanced Assessment Grants, Innovations in Science Maps, Assessment, and Reporting Technologies (S368A170009) and the Use of Learning Maps as an Organizing Structure for Formative Assessment (S368A150013). He is a member of the American Educational Research Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education and the Council for Exceptional Children. He has presented research nationally and contributed to technical reports for the DLM Consortium and multiple funded projects.

Meagan Karvonen

Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Karvonen is Director of ATLAS (Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems), a center at the University of Kansas. In addition to her work on 5E-SESE, she also directs the DLM Alternate Assessment Consortium and is principal investigator of the Enhanced Assessment Grant, Innovations in Science Maps, Assessment, and Reporting Technologies (I-SMART). Dr. Karvonen has nearly 20 years of experience in large-scale assessments for students with disabilities, and in particular, alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Dr. Karvonen has nearly 20 years of experience managing externally funded projects, including serving as PI or co-PI on projects totaling more than $40 million. She has co-authored more than 200 articles, book chapters, technical reports, and presentations.

Jonathan Schuster

Research Associate

Dr. Schuster is currently the English language arts (ELA) Research Lead for ATLAS. He received his doctorate in cognitive psychology from the University of Kansas. While at AAI, he has contributed to multiple projects involving the development and validation of content learning maps. He worked on a team that developed and validated the DLM ELA learning map that was used to develop an assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities. In the Enhanced Learning Maps project, he helped to adapt the DLM ELA learning map to represent the content learning of students in the general education population. The resulting map was the basis for instructional activities with formative assessments. Last, he provided support in the development and validation of the science learning maps developed for the DLM Consortium and the I-SMART project. His research interests include psycholinguistics, with a focus on reading development, and the cognitive processes involved in reading comprehension. His current work has concentrated on the impact of text complexity on reading comprehension and the acquisition of critical knowledge and skills involved in writing development.

Ronda Layman

Technical Assistance Provider

Ms. Layman enters this project with more than 30 years of experience working with students with severe and multiple disabilities as a classroom teacher, speech pathologist and special education. She has experience with assistive technology, developing and implementing programs across state and district levels for teachers of students with significant disabilities. Her educational experiences are enhanced and driven by her personal experience as the mother to a son with significant cognitive disabilities. She worked as the Consultant for Students with Significant and Multiple Disabilities and Assistive Technology for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction before taking a position as a Research Project Manager for ATLAS. Within her role she provides support for states within the DLM consortium, develops and implements state wide professional development activities, and chairs Instructional Ad Hoc Committee. She has coauthored and taught many professional development courses, and provided technical assistance to districts across North Carolina in the education of students with complex needs. She has developed an Assistive Technology framework for NC and participated in a universal design for learning professional learning community with OCALI.

Emily Thatcher

Research Project Manager

Emily Thatcher is the Research Project Manager for the Shared Writing Instructional Model (SWIM) OSEP Funded Model Demonstration Grant. Emily has 30 years of experience serving families and students with disabilities, mostly students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Prior to joining KU, Emily was the State of Iowa’s Alternate Assessment Consultant, Project Lead and developer of professional development for the Significant Disabilities focus area of an OSEP funded state personnel development grant, State Coordinator for National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) and lead consultant of implementation teams that support educators deliver high quality specially designed instruction and assessment.