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Rock Solid Evaluation Staff

Courtney Kepple, B.A.,

Office Associate

Rock Solid Evaluation Staff (by Project)

GRREC / OVEC kid-FRIENDLy Grant Evaluation

Antony (Tony) D. Norman

Ph.D., Project Director

Dr. Norman is Director of the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program housed in WKU’s College of Education and a Professor of Psychology. Dr. Norman’s previous administrative experiences in the College of Education include serving as Interim Chair for the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership and Research and Associate Dean for Accountability and Research . Additionally, he served as Assistant Dean for Assessment and Accountability in the College of Education and Human Services at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. During his time as faculty, he also accepted responsibilities as Assistant to the Dean for Assessment and as Assessment Coordinator for WKU’s Title II Renaissance Partnership for Improving Teacher Quality Project.

Through collaborative relationships with colleagues, Tony has published over a dozen articles and technical reports, conducted nearly thirty national presentations, served as external evaluator for five U.S. Department of Education funded grants, and served on numerous state and national professional boards and committees. He worked has with others at WKU to procure funding for new science and math education programs such as SKyTeach, built on the work of UT-Austin’s UTeach program, and GSKyTeach, a graduate-level teacher residency program in partnership with the highly diverse Jefferson County Public School System in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Norman is currently serving as project director of a $2.3 million grant to evaluate the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative’s and Ohio Valley Education Cooperative’s $42 million Race to the Top-District kid•FRIENDLy Project. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degree at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and earned his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Virginia in 1990.

Gary Houchens, Ph.D.

Dr. Houchens is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research. He is a former social studies teacher, assistant principal, principal and district administrator, who has served in both public and private school settings. Dr. Houchens joined the WKU faculty in 2010. His research interests focus on the inner lives of school leaders, including the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspects of leadership, and how these dimensions influence the practice of school administration. His current research studies focus on theories of practice for instructional leadership and using coaching protocols to enhance principals' self-reflection and self-awareness. Dr. Houchens is also a member of the Rock Solid Evaluation Team, and is actively involved in the team’s current evaluation projects. In 2016 Dr. Houchens was appointed by Governor Matt Bevin to a four-year term on the Kentucky Board of Education. He was also appointed to serve the Kentucky delegation as a member of the Education Commission of the States.


Jenni Redifer, Ph.D.

Dr. Redifer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and an active member of the Rock Solid Evaluation Team. Her research examines cognitive factors related to student learning and achievement and individual differences in strategy use and creativity. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Florida in 2012. Dr. Redifer teaches courses in educational psychology, cognitive psychology, and survey research methods. Prior to joining WKU in 2012, Dr. Redifer was a member of the University of Florida’s Collaborative Assessment and Program Evaluation Services team, conducting quantitative and qualitative evaluations of educational programs and social service organizations.

Amber Schroeder, Ph.D.

Dr. Schroeder earned a B.A. in Psychology from Texas A&M University in 2007, an M.S. in Applied Psychology from Clemson University in 2009, and a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Clemson University in 2012. Her research interests focus primarily on (a) the use of social media in employment settings, (b) the examination of negative employee and organizational behavior (e.g., workplace deviance, cyberbullying, and discrimination), and (c) the assessment of employee personality and culture and their impact on work outcomes. Dr. Schroeder is also a member of the Rock Solid Evaluation Team, and is actively involved in the team’s current evaluation projects.


Jie Zhang, Ph.D.

Jie Zhang is an is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Houston. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and M.S. in Statistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to join the University of Houston, she was an assistant professor at Western Kentucky University (WKU) from 2010 to 2016. She taught graduate courses in research methods, program evaluation, and statistics. Her research interests focus on language and literacy development, bilingual and biliteracy acquisition, and evaluation of large-scale classroom interventions. Dr. Zhang’s research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES), and Spencer Foundation. She was a recipient of National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2013-2015. She is currently a founding member of the Rock Solid evaluation team at WKU to evaluate Kentucky’s 42 million-dollar Race to the Top-District (RTT-D) grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education in 2013-2017.




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 Last Modified 5/7/18