Research & Evaluation


Innovations in Illuminating High-Ability Low-Income Students

Saturday, November 11
1:15 PM - 2:15 PM
Location: Exhibit Hall Roundtable 2

Many tools litter the field for the identification of high-ability low-income students. And yet, these students continue to elude identification processes. Participants will be introduced to a new and ambitious approach, a rubric that can be used by any classroom teacher with most any writing assignment, developed as a part of Project ExCEL, a Jacob K. Javits project. Innovative and unique in its concept, this tool shines a high-powered light to illuminate these students and is a bold, front-line strategy to move the field past the question of equity and access once and for all.

Anne Horak

Coordinator, Project ExCEL
George Mason University

Anne Horak is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator for Project ExCEL, a federally funded Jacob K. Javits grant, at George Mason University. Project ExCEL uses Problem-Based Learning as a universal screening platform to find and serve high ability low income students. Dr. Horak has conducted research demonstrating the efficacy of PBL in middle school classrooms of gifted students (Horak, 2013).
Dr. Horak received her PhD in Education from George Mason University, her M.Ed in Advanced Studies in Teaching and Learning from George Mason University and her B.A. in Secondary Education from the State University of New York College at Oswego. Her research interests include Problem-Based Learning, Gifted Education, Educational Policy and Teacher Professional Development.
Prior to joining the faculty at Mason, Dr. Horak served as Advanced Academic Program Specialist for Middle School for Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) where she was integral to supporting the transition to open enrollment and developing the Problem-Based Learning curriculum. For two years, Dr. Horak was on special assignment for FCPS as a liaison to George Mason University managing a collaborative effort by the two agencies to establish a laboratory school. Dr. Horak has also taught middle school English and Social Studies in North Carolina and Virginia.


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Lori C. Bland

Associate Professor, Assessment and Evaluation
George Mason University

Lori C. Bland, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Assessment and Evaluation, and Data-Driven Decision-Making in the Division of Educational Psychology, Research Methods, and Education Policy at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. Dr. Bland is currently a co-PI for an NSF grant, Trajectories of Informal Learning among Engineering Students – Theoretical and Empirical Contributions for Understanding and Measuring Impact. Her research interests focus on decision-making, assessment, program evaluation within multiple contexts, such as gifted education and engineering education. Dr. Bland is also the evaluator on an NSF grant, Designing Teaching: Scaling up the SIMPLE Design Framework for Interactive Teaching Development. She is on the Editorial Board for Gifted Child Quarterly and Contemporary Educational Psychology. She teaches masters and doctoral level courses in Educational Assessment, Program Evaluation, Data-driven Decision-Making, and Gifted Education.


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Rebecca L. Brusseau

Graduate Research Assistant, Project ExCEL
George Mason University


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Holly D. Glaser

Graduate Research Assistant
George Mason University


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Innovations in Illuminating High-Ability Low-Income Students

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