Who We Are
The ultimate goal of the National P-3 Center is to improve the education continuum that children experience from birth (Pre-school) through 3rd grade.
We recognize that race, class, culture, and zip code demand explicit strategies to mitigate their effects on children’s learning opportunities. We understand and value both the early care and education (ECE) and PreK-12 systems and engage in strategic work with a focus on organization and system change at district, community, and state levels. To this end, we work at the intersection of ECE systems building and K-12 reforms.
- Focusing on equity as a driving force behind what we do, with the recognition that disadvantage and disparities exist within and across the ECE and PreK-12 systems.
- Establishing and maintaining strong, personalized, and professional relationships with stakeholders in communities, school districts, and states that are building P-3 approaches.
- Responding to gaps and needs in the field – at local, regional, state, and national levels – with practical, evidence-based strategies that are connected to emerging innovations in the field.
- Engaging in cutting edge efforts related to research, policy, and practice of P-3 approaches.
- Honoring the history, mission, and values of both the ECE and PreK-12 systems to successfully navigate between the two.
- Maintaining the highest level of quality and integrity in all aspects of our engagement with practitioners and policymakers.
- Engaging in ongoing research and evaluation of both our own work as a Center and of promising P-3 approaches around the country.
- Leveraging our position in higher education to collaborate with experts in the field and employ rigorous methodologies.
Kristie Kauerz, Ed.D.
Kristie Kauerz is an associate clinical professor at University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education and Human Development. Kristie specializes in education reform efforts that address the continuum of learning from birth through 3rd grade, integrating early care and education (ECE) system building and PreK-12 reforms.
Kristie’s expertise spans policy, research, and practice. Her P-3 work is anchored in collaborations with school districts, state agencies, and early learning stakeholders. Her research interests straddle the paradigmatic, pedagogical, and policy divides that exist between ECE and PreK-12 systems. She has served as policy advisor to two former Colorado governors, director of early learning at Education Commission of the States, and director of PreK-3rd grade initiatives at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining the faculty at CU Denver, she was at the University of Washington’s College of Education.
Kristie focuses on both the organizational reforms and the cognitive sensemaking necessary to build alignment and coherence that supports children’s development and learning. She designed and directed the Washington P-3 Executive Leadership Certificate Program, a credit-bearing course of study that co-enrolled administrators from early learning and PreK-12. She also has led the National P-3 Institute since 2008.
Kristie’s authorship includes numerous articles, book chapters, and reports on topics ranging from P-3 alignment to full-day Kindergarten to early childhood governance. Kristie is lead author on the Framework for Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating P-3 Grade Approaches, a tool used around the country to guide school, district, and community alignment efforts. She co-authored a book on improving the early care and education workforce and is co-editor of the book Early Childhood Systems: Transforming Early Learning.
Kristie is a proud graduate of Colorado College, American University, and Teachers College at Columbia University.
Margaret Soli, M.P.P.
Margaret (Meg) Soli is the associate director of the National P-3 Center at University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education and Human Development. Meg is committed to thoughtful research, policy, and practice to improve the lives of young children and their families. She is driven to promote equity across the complex systems that children and families experience from birth through 3rd grade.
Meg has the toolkit of an evaluator and is skilled at developing logic models and theories of change, thinking innovatively about measurement, using qualitative and quantitative methods, and applying a continuous quality improvement lens to her work. Her interests include strengthening the early childhood and PreK-3rd grade workforce, engaging and partnering with families, and understanding the role of media and technology in children’s development.
Prior to joining the National P-3 Center, Meg worked as a research scientist in the Early Childhood Department at Child Trends. Throughout 10 years with Child Trends, she managed and supported multiple research and evaluation projects for government agencies, foundations, and non-profit groups at the national, state, and local levels.
Meg has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Macalester College.
Roberta Ballard, Ed.S.
Roberta Ballard is a Research-to-Practice Associate with the National P-3 Center at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education and Human Development. Roberta is dedicated to increasing the quality of learning opportunities provided to children from birth through 3rd grade. She is passionate about supporting ECE and K-12 leaders to examine and improve their practices through the use of research and evaluation.
Prior to joining the Center, Roberta worked for 10 years as an elementary school principal for a local school district in Colorado. As a principal, she focused on developing the capacity of educators’ use and knowledge of evidence-based practices, implementing strong collaborative processes, and developing trusting relationships with families and communities. Prior to the principalship, she spent eight years teaching at the primary level across multiple districts and states.
Roberta is currently a third-year doctoral student in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program at the University of Northern Colorado. Her research interests include equity-minded pedagogy, critical race leadership, and systems of support for teachers of color. Recently, Roberta was chosen as a 2019-2021 Jackson Scholar. The Jackson Scholars network, sponsored by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), is a program that provides graduate students of color with mentoring as they pursue opportunities in higher education.
Roberta has an Education Specialist’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado, a Master’s degree in School Counseling from the University of Texas-El Paso, and a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico.
Andrew Schaper, Ph.D.
Andrew Schaper is a Research-To-Practice Associate with the National P-3 Center at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Education and Human Development. Andrew is passionate about improving the educational experiences of all children, especially those in ECE and early elementary settings. Andrew focuses his passion by improving our understanding of these educational experiences through research and evaluation. He also supports educational leaders in their efforts to enhance systems and practices.
Andrew brings over five years of evaluation experience with both large- and small-scale projects. He has worked with many types of clients and funders including state departments of education, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), local education agencies, private businesses, and non-profit organizations. Further, his research focuses on the intersection of evidence-based practices and implementation science. He is trained in advanced quantitative methods and has published multiple peer-reviewed research articles on implementation fidelity topics. He also enjoys supporting educators directly through training and technical support.
Before he joined the Center, Andrew was an evaluator and technical support provider at the Colorado Department of Education. In this role, he provided evaluation services, training, and coaching for the state, districts, and schools implementing multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS), School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS), and bully prevention practices.
Andrew is a graduate of Colorado College, earned a doctorate from the University of Oregon’s College of Education, and conducted a postdoctoral fellowship in the Center for Developmental Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.