About the Authors

Volume 2


Wendy I. Geller


As the first Director of the Data Management & Analysis Division, at Vermont’s Agency of Education, Wendy serves alongside her Work Family of Data Scientists as a centralized resource to the Vermont Agency of Education. Her crew collects, stewards, and leverages the institution’s critical data assets to create and share data products that enable empirically-based practice and policy decision-making.

Her Division leads, partners with external bodies, and executes on the analytic activities of the institution as well as plans, develops, and manages the data governance program and the business side of the DataOps continuum. They’re a busy bunch!

Her Ph.D. (2011) is in sociology from the National University of Ireland Maynooth where she was a doctoral fellow at the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis. Her dissertation findings highlighted shifting demographics in education arenas and labor markets internationally, specific education orientations occurring across cultures, and presented thoughts on the social and spatial forces surrounding rural community viability.

Since leaving academia, she has dedicated herself to creating the cultural, infrastructural, and operational conditions needed to care for and use data sustainably so as to provide value-added analyses in the public sector.

She believes in harnessing science for the public good, there’s no point to unsalted butter, it’s cool to be kind, and that she’s really lucky Jared and DJ both agreed to be her friend. She feels smarter just standing next to them, whether in person or virtually.

Dorothyjean (DJ) Cratty

DJ conducts student-level research studies for and with state and district agencies and their stakeholders through DJC Applied Research. Included in these are equity audits and research capacity audits. She helps states and districts develop and improve their researcher practitioner partnerships (RPPs), advises RPP grant programs on state and district needs, and trains university research partners on collaborative data analytic methods. She also conducts research with education and labor data aggregates for national organizations, such as EdTrust.

Previously, DJ led statewide RPP capacity development as principal investigator for Rhode Island’s cross-sector Research Hub, and more recently, the education data audit stage of DC’s new RPP. She also built out North Carolina’s cross-sector research capacity as the data and methods specialist on the state data interdisciplinary research team at Duke University. Her research with state administrative data includes preschool, K-12, postsecondary, workforce, CTE, adult education, teacher workforce, course data, and school climate.

As a program officer for the NCES Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) grant program, DJ worked with state agency data and research managers to help develop and share best practices for applied research with P-20W+ sector data. These practices included crafting research agendas, drafting data sharing agreements, documenting data inventories, training analytic staff, and presenting rigorous research to lay audiences.

Her training is in labor and public economics. She has worked with state administrative labor data to research workers’ compensation reforms and labor productivity. Prior to working primarily with state and district administrative data, she conducted applied research with survey data for various countries and sectors as an economist at the World Bank. Journal publications include Economics of Transition and Economics of Education Review.

To read some of DJ’s EDDR-related work, check out her Duke statewide education research papers with copious data prep and analysis details.

Jared Knowles


Jared is the president of Civilytics Consulting, an independent data science company that provides social science research and analysis, software solutions, and training in the K12 education, higher education, criminal justice, and public finance sectors. He founded Civilytics in 2016 to pursue his passion of providing high-quality public performance metrics for government services. He works with state and local education agencies, networks of education analysts, community groups, and others to provide clear, transparent, open, and impactful analytic solutions that meet users’ needs. Jared is known for his deep expertise working with practitioners, focus on making data analysis and evaluation results accessible and actionable, and commitment to user-centered design and communication.

Jared formerly served as a senior research analyst with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. There he led the design and deployment of the Wisconsin Dropout Early Warning System (DEWS), a machine learning predictive framework available to all schools serving students grades 5-9 in the state. At DPI, he was committed to growing state staff’s data literacy and statistical computing skills, leading dozens of training workshops, and to building partnerships with other agencies and groups, serving on a variety of state advisory councils. He also led several internal analysis efforts culminating in presenting findings to agency leadership, legislators, school leaders, teachers, and the public.

Jared completed his PhD in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015. There he was a fellow in an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral training program at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Jared is also an avid photographer and loves to travel and play StarCraft.

To follow his work, sign up for his monthly newsletter, The Civic Pulse!

New Voices

LaCole Foots


LaCole Foots is a performance manager for the Texas Education Agency where she serves by helping to manage the strategic initiatives that interact with the students, campuses and districts throughout the state. She assists with aligning the agenc’s strategic plans and daily operations by creating and tracking metrics, briefing senior leadership on the progression of initiatives, and making recommendations for tactical changes.

Completing her Master of Science in Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon’s Australian campus allowed her the chance to see compulsory voting in action and informed her truest career passion: the intersection of civic engagement and education. ‘How do we teach kids about their role in government and how does that affect their engagement as adults?’ Finding answers to these questions is a core professional motivation and she hopes to continue pursuing it in an academic setting at some point.

Further, LaCole is in the exploratory phase of launching a consulting practice that will coach clients on the interconnectedness of data strategy, program evaluation, strategic planning and project management. As a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and a former enterprise architect, she focuses on the convergence of data systems and program evaluation along with the best way to use data to inform strategic and tactical maneuvering. The soup-to-nuts offering will help service-based industries (public sector and non profit) develop an idea into a well regimented and monitored program with a prioritization of disrupting inequitable systems.

When not thinking of ways to absolutely change the world, you can find LaCole hiking with her dog Cora or writing poetry about the beautiful Austin sky.

Justin Meyer


Justin currently serves as a research analyst for the Policy and Budget team at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (WDPI). In that role, he’s devoted a lot of time to producing predictive models. He created the College and Career Readiness Early Warning System (CCREWS) to provide early predictions of student college enrollment and ACT results so that schools can provide additional support to those that need it and thereby increase the numbers of students who are ready for college and career. He also created a system to provide Advanced Placement exam predictions so that schools can identify students who are likely to be successful at AP but who aren’t currently participating. In addition to the predictive projects, he’s conducted both ad hoc and planned analyses, worked on data governance and confidential data sharing, and designed, administered, and reported on surveys.

Before that, he was a consultant for the Office of Educational Accountability at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. In that role, he worked on all aspects of the Wisconsin school and district accountability report cards, modernized the Title III Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives accountability reports for English learners, created numerous reproducible processes to accomplish tasks that had previously been done by hand, and conducted ad hoc analyses to meet decision-support and reporting needs.

Not only this, but he has also served as a researcher for a non-profit education organization, including the full cycle of program evaluation from recruiting pilot and control schools and administering exams to conducting analysis and developing reports. As an independent contractor, he has conducted program evaluation analyses and produced Shiny dashboards. Because he values supporting new analysts and building community, he created RProgramming.net and founded the MadR Madison R Meetup group which he led for three years.

Ellis Ott


Ellis Ott, Ph.D. is the Senior Research Analyst at the Fairbanks North Star Borough school district in Fairbanks, Alaska. For 15 years at the school district, he has conducted research and evaluation studies of district programs, and completed analyses and reports on the condition of education in Fairbanks in a wide array of topics including student assessments, dropout and graduation rates, discipline, and enrollment. Dr. Ott excels in data analytics with transparency, such as the development of a data dashboard to provide information to the public.

Since 2012, he has been Alaska’s Local Education Agency representative to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) Forum. He developed an Advanced Early Warning System (AEWS) for the school district in Fairbanks and presented on the AEWS at several NCES data conferences as well as the recent Pathways to Adult Success Conference 2020, race/ethnicity data collection, U.S. Department of Education School Climate surveys, and the case study for the Forum Guide to Early Warning Systems 2018. Dr. Ott has also presented on the AEWS to the local school board, staff professional development, collaborative meetings with Alaska Native associations, Alaska Native Education grant hearings, and principal meetings. He has also served on the Alaska Technical Advisory Committee for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (ADEED) providing input on the accountability system and statewide assessments since 2011.

Dr. Ott holds a PhD in Statistics with a co-major in Curriculum and Instruction from Iowa State University.