Project Description

The Data Support Council is comprised of representatives of education, non-profit, business, philanthropic, and government agencies from Dallas County who are thought leaders and experts in their fields. The Data Support Council’s broad purpose is to act as a collective thought partner by supporting and advising other councils and Action Networks spanning across all indicators. Its 14 members meet every eight weeks to discuss education data and testing policy issues, guide Commit!’s Community Scorecard indicator calculations, and inform Commit!?s activities. The Data Support Council members contribute their time, expertise, advice and ongoing support.

Dr. Rodney Andrews
Dr. Tamela Horton
Dr. Whitcomb Johnstone
Dr. Kristin Kuhne
Donna McAda
Dr. Cecilia Oakeley
Dr. Richard Plott
Missy Rowe

Dr. Becky Sheppard
Anisha Srinivasan
Dr. Karen Thierry
Debbie Youngs

andrewsDr. Rodney Andrews
Director, Texas Schools Project
Dr. Rodney Andrews is the director of Texas Schools Project and the University of Texas at Dallas Education Research Center. As such, Dr. Rodney leads the Texas Schools Project and UT Dallas Education Research Center teams in their work to conduct independent research to benefit education in Texas. In additional to his responsibilities as director, Dr. Rodney is also a senior researcher with Texas Schools Project where he collaborates with principal investigators, participates in the federally-funded National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER), and performs independent research with data housed at the UT Dallas Education Research Center. He is also an assistant professor of economics at the UT Dallas School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences.

Dr. Rodney’s areas of expertise include economics of education, labor economics, public finance, and applied microeconomics. Rodney received his doctorate degree in economics from the University of Michigan.

drydenDr. Tamela Horton
Executive Director of School Improvement, Lancaster ISD
Dr. Horton serves as Executive Director of School Improvement for Lancaster ISD. In this capacity she supports campuses in the development and implementation of student-centered programs and resources that maximize student learning and achievement outcomes.

She began her public education career in East Texas, where she served for twelve years as a high school math teacher in Tatum ISD and Longview ISD. In the Metroplex, she served as an assistant principal in Duncanville ISD. She served in Dallas ISD as the Principal of Rosie Sorrells School of Education and Social Services at Townview Center. While serving in this capacity, she led the campus to a 2011 USDE Blue Ribbon campus designation. She also served as principal of Lancaster High School, where she implemented the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) to provide a professional development foundation that enhanced teacher quality and supported increased student learning.

Tamela earned her Ph.D. in K- 16 Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington. She earned her Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership and Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Tyler.

johnstoneDr. Whitcomb Johnstone
Division Director of Planning, Evaluation & Research, Irving ISD
Dr. Whit Johnstone serves as the Division Director of Planning, Evaluation and Research with the Irving Independent School District. He is charged with monitoring and evaluating the success of programs in the district, ensuring quality and integrity in student assessment and PEIMS data, maintaining relationships with outside partners and vendors, and leading a diverse group of professionals in assessment, data analysis, data management and program evaluation. Dr. Johnstone began his career in educational evaluation as a program evaluator with the Fort Worth ISD. Over the span of his career Dr. Johnstone has served in advisory roles at the state and national level, including past service on the State Accountability Educator Focus Group and the Commissioner’s Accountability Advisory Committee. Dr. Johnstone currently serves as the Texas local education agency (LEA) representative on the National Forum for Education Statistics, an advisory group to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education.

staff_kkuhneDr. Kristin Kuhne
Research and Evaluation Analyst, Educate Texas
Kristin Kuhne is a Research and Evaluation Analyst at Educate Texas. Her primary responsibilities include conducting quantitative and qualitative research on our statewide educational initiatives. Prior to joining Educate Texas, Dr. Kuhne worked at the Texas Schools Project/Education Research Center at UT Dallas as a Research Associate. Her work there included the evaluation of a variety of educational interventions from early childhood to high school. Dr. Kuhne received her doctorate in public policy and political economy from the University of Texas at Dallas where she also earned a master’s in public affairs. She also holds a bachelor’s in finance from the University of Texas at Austin and was employed in the financial services industry before doing her graduate work.

Donna McAda
Admin Officer, Mesquite Independent School District
Biography coming soon.

Cecillia_OakleyDr. Cecilia Oakeley
Executive Director of Evaluation & Assessment, Dallas ISD
Cecilia Oakeley currently oversees the Evaluation and Assessment Department for Dallas ISD with over 60 evaluation and assessment staff. Oversight and responsibilities include district, state, and federal accountability (No Child left Behind) systems, state and local assessments, and program evaluation. She has been with Dallas ISD for 30 years serving in different capacities of program evaluation, Court Desegregation Order reports, and Assessment. She has served 14 Dallas ISD superintendents (including interims). Dr. Oakeley received her Ph.D. in 1986 in Educational Research from New Mexico State University.

PlottDr. Richard Kent Plott
Director of Decision Support, Eastfield College; Facilitator for the District Office of Institutional Research, DCCCD
Dr. Richard K. Plott, serves as Director for Decision Support at Eastfield College (one of the seven colleges for the Dallas County Community College District). Decision Support provides administration of Knowledge Management through Executive Information Systems, Accountability Efforts, and Business Intelligence. As Facilitator for Institutional Research at the district research office, he provides leadership for current research efforts and serves as point person for many of the initiatives which involve the utilization of standards and statistics for the district.

Dr. Plott has previously served as Executive Director for Institutional Effectiveness at Cisco College, Associate Vice President for Institutional Research & Effectiveness at Texas State Technical College – Harlingen, and Information Technology Manager for Decision Support at The University of North Texas. He has also served as a College Liaison with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges and continues to present at many state/regional conferences promoting Knowledge Management through a combined model of Decision Support. With over 17 years of experience as both faculty member and administrator to secondary and postsecondary institutions, he continues to honor his personal and professional commitment toward excellence in teaching and learning. Dr. Plott holds degrees from the University of Texas at Dallas (B.A., M.A.T.), Curtin University – Perth, Australia (Ph.D.) and engaged in further studies at Florida State University.

roweMelissa Rowe
Executive Director, Department of Assessment and Research, Grand Prairie ISD
Melissa “Missy” Rowe began her educational career teaching high school mathematics in her hometown of Grand Prairie. Missy’s teaching responsibilities included AP statistics, and she had the opportunity to serve the College Board as a reader for the AP statistics exam. While teaching, Missy served as a consultant for Texas Instruments and a national trainer for College Preparatory Mathematics educational program.

Missy left the classroom to support new teachers to the district as a learning team coach. Soon after, she was invited to apply her statistics background in the department of Assessment and Research where she has supported data-driven decision making at the district and campus level more than seven years and has been the Executive Director for three years. Missy is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Administrative Leadership for Teaching and Learning.

Dr. Becky Sheppard
Executive Director of Assessment and Accountability, DeSoto ISD
Biography will be coming soon.

Anisha Srinivasan
Program Director, Uplift Education
Biography will be coming soon.

UntitledDr. Karen Thierry
Director of Education Research, Salesmanship Club Youth & Family Centers
Since September 2012, Karen Thierry has served as the Director of Education Research with the Salesmanship Club’s J. Erik Jonsson Community School. Karen received her Ph. D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. Throughout her 12 years of experience in research and evaluation, the focus of her work has been on children’s cognition and learning and the application of research and theory in this area to applied settings (e.g., education, social work, law). Karen has worked at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Maryland), where she was a recipient of an Intramural Research Training Award, and at Rutgers University (Camden, New Jersey) as an Assistant Professor of Psychology. Just prior to joining the Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers, Karen was a program evaluator with the Dallas Independent School District.

Debbie Youngs
Director of Research, Accountability, and Assessment, Coppell ISD
In third grade, Debbie Youngs knew she wanted to be an educator. Lazy summer afternoons spent teaching neighborhood friends how to multiply triggered a love for teaching in Debbie. This passion came naturally as she was surrounded by educators in her family, including her grandmother who taught her to read.

Knowing that education was in her future, Debbie sought out a university known for preparing educators. Due to its reputation as a former Teacher’s College, she attended Sam Houston State University for her Bachelor’s Degree. When her children were grown, she went back to college to obtain her Master’s Degree at The University of North Texas. Debbie began her career as a fourth grade teacher in Spring ISD and has enjoyed teaching in Spring ISD, San Angelo ISD, Duncanville ISD, Northside ISD, and Coppell ISD. Over the last thirty years, she has enjoyed being a classroom teacher, an ESL facilitator, an assistant principal, a Summer School principal, a Fine Arts Director, and, most recently, the Director of Research, Accountability, and Assessment for Coppell ISD.

Debbie is the 1st Vice-President of the TEPSA Region X Board, a member of ASCD, TSNAP, TASA, and MATS.