Elizabeth (Towles) Summers, Ph.D.

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Elizabeth Towles-Reeves

Elizabeth (Towles) Summers is the Executive Vice President of edCount, LLC. Dr. Summers has extensive experience in assessment and validity studies, with a special focus in alternate assessment. She has led and assisted with numerous local, regional, and national studies of both general and alternate assessment systems, has served as coordinator and manager of various projects intended to improve, design, or redesign assessment systems, and has played a pivotal role in the development and evaluation of alternate assessment systems around the country.

Dr. Summers currently serves as the Project Director for a three-year, multi-state Enhanced Assessment Grant, Strengthening Claims-based Interpretations and Uses of Local and Large-scale Science Assessment Scores (SCILLSS). Under Dr. Summers’ direction, four organizational partners and edCount are working together with three state departments of education and a panel of experts to establish foundational resources for new science assessment systems. Using a principled-design approach, they are creating materials from which enhanced science assessments can be built, evaluated, and shared across states, local education agencies, schools, and classrooms. 

In addition, Dr. Summers is the director of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program – Alternate Assessment project in science and social studies. She oversees the development and documentation activities, including content standard prioritization for assessment, item development, item review for content, bias, and sensitivity, test design for the field test and alternate assessment in Spring of 2017 and beyond to 2020, and technical documentation for the alternate assessment in both content areas. Under her direction, edCount has also developed 24 content modules providing curricular information designed to help educators deliver appropriate and challenging content to students with cognitive disabilities.

This year, Dr. Summers also directed the South Dakota project for the development of Science Core Content Connectors (CCCs). In this role, Dr. Summers lead edCount’s collaboration with South Dakota instructional leaders to develop science CCCs utilizing evidence-based practices, research, and theory regarding how students with the most significant cognitive disabilities acquire academic skills and knowledge. The CCCs clarify concepts in the South Dakota Science Standards by deconstructing the structure of individual performance expectations (i.e., standards) into teachable and assessable segments of content.

Dr. Summers has served as Project Director in edCount’s contracts to evaluate the validity of alternate assessments for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in Hawaii, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Mississippi, and in edCount’s whole-system alignment evaluation of the Georgia Milestones Assessment.

From 2010 to 2015, Dr. Summers served as the Process Evaluator for the National Center and State Collaborative General Supervision Enhancement Grant (NCSC-GSEG), a consortium of 19 states which collaborated to design an alternate assessment system aligned with the common core state standards. In this role, she analyzed project implementation and operation, provided coordination of project management activities, and oversaw the external project evaluation. Dr. Summers also served as Project Director for the Evaluating the Validity of English Language Proficiency Assessments (EVEA) project, coordinating project management, leadership for development of project instruments, management of grants and contracts, and oversight of partnerships.

Over the past decade Dr. Summers’ research products have reflected her commitment to understanding the cognition of special needs students and designing and improving testing and instruction to maximize the achievement potential of this population. She has authored or co-authored more than a dozen research reports, the majority of which have appeared in peer-reviewed academic journals. She has designed several research instruments that are in wide use, including an index of learner characteristics; authored several book chapters, and, since 2003, has presented regularly at national and regional conferences. In 2007, she was awarded TASH’s Alice H. Hayden Emerging Researcher Award for her commitment to improving understanding and service to the population of students with disabilities.