Dr. Meisels served as president of Erikson Institute from 2002–13 and held the Irving and Neison Harris President’s Chair. In June 2013, the Board of Trustees appointed him president emeritus.

He came to Erikson after 21 years at the University of Michigan, where he is now professor and research scientist emeritus. Previously, he was a faculty member in the Department of Child Study and director of the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School at Tufts University. A former preschool, kindergarten, and first-grade teacher, he also served as senior advisor in early childhood development for the Developmental Evaluation Clinic of Boston’s Children’s Hospital. He holds a doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

One of the nation’s leading authorities on the assessment of young children, Dr. Meisels has published over 200 articles, books, and monographs, and is co-author of the Work Sampling System, the Early Screening Inventory Revised, The Ounce Scale and the Handbook of Early Childhood Intervention. Download a summary of the research on the Work Sampling System » [PDF, 8pg]

His research focuses on the development of alternative assessment strategies for young children; the impact of standardized tests on children; and developmental screening in early childhood. Recently, he completed research on the validity of The Ounce Scale, an observational assessment for birth to three-year-olds and their families.

Dr. Meisels is former president of the board of directors of Zero To Three: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families and has been an advisor to the national Head Start Bureau. He was a member of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy and has served as a senior investigator for the national Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort and for the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement.

Among his honors, Dr. Meisels received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Roosevelt University; the American Academy of Pediatrics 2005 Dale Richmond/Justin Coleman Lectureship Award; the Chicago Metropolitan Association for the Education of Young Children Outstanding Service to Young Children Award (2005); and the Association of Children’s Museums Great Friend to Kids Award.

Areas of Expertise

Developmental assessment of young children; the effect of standardized tests on children; the impact of state and federal policies on the families of children with disabilities; development of alternative assessment strategies; and developmental consequences of high-risk birth.

Honors

  • Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Roosevelt University, 2010
  • Dale Richmond-Justin Coleman Award, Section on Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, Washington, DC, 2005
  • Outstanding Service to Young Children Award, Chicago Metropolitan Association for the Education of Young Children, 2005
  • Parenting Shelf Award Winner, Winning Ways to Learn, Parents’ Choice Foundation, 2000
  • Ferguson Award for Leadership in Early Childhood Education, National-Louis University, 2000
  • Sunny Days Award, Sesame Street Parent’s Magazine, Children’s Television Workshop, 1999
  • Mary E. Switzer Distinguished Fellow in Handicapped Research, National Institute of Handicapped Research, U.S. Department of
    Education, 1985-86
  • Faculty Research Award, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, University of Michigan, 1982-83

Education

B.A. in philosophy, University of Rochester;
M.Ed. in education, Harvard University;
Ed.D. in education, Harvard University.

Related Experience

Professor of Education Emeritus and Research Scientist Emeritus, The University of Michigan, 2002

Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Child Health, Institute of Child Health, University College, London, 2001

Professor, School of Education, The University of Michigan, 1986 – 2001

Research Scientist, Center for Human Growth and Development, The University of Michigan (Acting Director, Feb.- Aug., 1987), 1986 – 2001

Associate Dean for Research, School of Education, The University of Michigan (Acting Dean, Feb. – June, 1994), 1992 – 1995

Associate Professor, School of Education, The University of Michigan (Chairman, Special Education Program, 1980-83), 1980 – 1986

Associate Research Scientist, Center for Human Growth and Development, The University of Michigan, 1983 – 1986

Program Director for Special Education, Institute for the, Study of Mental Retardation and Related Disabilities [ISMRRD], The University of Michigan, 1980 – 1983

Senior Advisor in Early Childhood Development, Developmental Evaluation Clinic, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Boston, 1979 – 1980

Director, Eliot-Pearson Children’s School, Department of Child Study, Tufts University, 1973 – 1978

Instructor to Associate Professor, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study, Tufts University (on leave 1979-80), 1972 – 1980

Lecturer in Education (part-time), Wheelock College, Boston, 1970 – 1972

Lecturer in Teacher Education (part-time), Simmons College, Boston, 1971 – 1973

Teacher, Runkle School, Brookline, MA Public Schools Kindergarten and Kindergarten-First Grade, 1970 – 1972

Science Coordinator and Teacher, Cambridge Montessori School, Cambridge, MA. Preschool-Grade 3, 1969 – 1970

Teaching Fellow in Education, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, 1968 – 1970

Service

Member, Expert Panel, Increasing the Application of Knowledge About Child and Adolescent Development in Educator Preparation Programs, NCATE, 2008—

Member, Pre-K Accountability Task Force, Pew Charitable Trusts, 2005–2007

President of the Board of Directors, ZERO TO THREE: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, Washington, D.C., 2001–2003

Member, State of Illinois Early Learning Council, 2004–2007

Research

Recent Studies

Download a summary of the research on the Work Sampling System » [PDF, 8 pg]

Principal Investigator, Ounce Scale Validation Project, 2004–2007
Funded by Head Start-University Partnerships, Head Start Bureau, and Pearson Early Learning

Co-Principal Investigator, Optimal Educational Contexts for Young, 1999–2003
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education OERI.

Project Director, Development of the Ounce Scale , 1999–2002
Funded by the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Head Start Bureau, Harris Foundation, EightCAP Community Action Program, and A. L. Mailman Family Foundation

Recent Publications

Meisels, S. J. Wen, X., & Beachy-Quick, K. Authentic Assessment for Infants and Toddlers: Exploring the Reliability and Validity of the Ounce Scale. Applied Developmental Science, 14 (2),1 – 17.

Meisels, S.J., Xue, Y., & Shamblott, M. Assessing language, literacy, and mathematics skills with Work Sampling for Head Start. Early Education and Development.19(6), 963-981.

Meisels, S.J. (2007). Accountability in early childhood: No easy answers. In R.C. Pianta, M.J. Cox, & K. Snow (Eds.), School readiness, early learning, and the transition to kindergarten. (pp. 31-48). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Meisels, S.J. & Atkins-Burnett, S. (2006). Evaluating early childhood assessments: A differential analysis. In K. McCartney & D. Phillips (Eds.), The Blackwell handbook of early childhood development (pp. 533-549). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Meisels, S.J., (2006). Universal pre-K: What about the babies? [Commentary] Education Week, p. 44, 36.

Lee, V.E., Burkam, D.T., Ready, D.D., Honigman, J.J., & Meisels, S.J. (2006). Full-day vs. half-day kindergarten: In which programs do children learn more? American Journal of Education, 112, p. 163-208.

Meisels, S.J. (2006).Accountability in Early Childhood: No Easy Answers, Occasional Paper, 6. Chicago: Erikson Institute Herr Research Center.

Meisels, S.J. & Atkins-Burnett, S. (2005). Developmental screening in early childhood: A guide (5th edition). Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Gilliam, W.S., Meisels, S.J., & Mayes, L. C. (2005). Screening and surveillance in early intervention systems. In Guralnick, M.J. (Ed.), The developmental systems approach to early intervention. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Xue, Y., & Meisels, S.J. (2004). Early literacy instruction and learning in kindergarten: Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten class of 1998–99. American Educational Research Journal, 41(1), 191–229.

Meisels, S.J. & Atkins-Burnett, S. (2004). The Head Start National Reporting System: A critique. Young Children, January 2004.

Meisels, S.J. (2004). Should we test 4-year-olds? Pediatrics, 113, 1401–1402.

Meisels, S.J. (2003). Can Head Start pass the test? [Commentary] Education Week, 22(27).

Meisels, S. J., Dombro, A.L., Marsden, D. B., Weston, D., & Jewkes, A. (2003). The Ounce Scale: An Observational Assessment for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. New York: Pearson Early Learning.

Meisels, S. J., Atkins-Burnett, S., Xue, Y., Nicholson, J., Bickel, D. D., & Son, S. (2003). Creating a system of accountability: The impact of instructional assessment on elementary children’s achievement test scores. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 11(9).

Meisels, S. J. & Harrington, H. L., with McMahon, P., Dichtelmiller, M. D. & Jablon, J. R. (2002). Thinking like a teacher: Using observational assessment to improve teaching and learning. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Meisels, S. J., Bickel, D. D., Nicholson, J., Xue, Y., & Atkins-Burnett, S. (2001). Trusting teachers’ judgments: A validity study of a curriculum-embedded performance assessment in Kindergarten – Grade 3. American Educational Research Journal, 38(1), 73–95.

Meisels, S. J., Xue, Y., Bickel, D. D., Nicholson, J., & Atkins-Burnett, S. (2001). Parental reactions to authentic performance assessment. Educational Assessment, 7(1), 61–85.

Meisels, S. J., Jablon, J. R., Marsden, D. B., Dichtelmiller, M. L., Dorfman, A. B. (2001). The Work Sampling System (4th edition). New York: Pearson Early Learning.

Shonkoff, J. P. & Meisels, S. J. (Eds.) (2000). Handbook of early childhood intervention (second edition). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Meisels, S. J. & Shonkoff, J. P. (2000). Early childhood intervention: A continuing evolution. In J. P. Shonkoff & S. J. Meisels (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood intervention (second edition, pp. 3–31). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Meisels, S. J. & Atkins-Burnett, S. (2000). The elements of early childhood assessment. In J. P. Shonkoff & S. J. Meisels (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood intervention (second edition, pp. 231–257). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Meisels, S. J. (1999) Assessing readiness. In R. C. Pianta & M. Cox (Eds.), The transition to kindergarten (pp. 39 – 66). Baltimore: Paul Brookes.

Meisels, S. J., Marsden, D. B., Wiske, M. S., & Henderson, L. W. (1997). The Early Screening Inventory·Revised (ESI·R). New York: Pearson Early Learning.

Meisels, S. J. (1997). Using Work Sampling in authentic performance assessments. Educational Leadership, 54, 60–65.

Meisels, S. J. (1996). Performance in context: Assessing children’s achievement at the outset of school. In A. J. Sameroff & M. M. Haith (Eds.), The five to seven year shift: The age of reason and responsibility (pp. 410–431). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Meisels, S. J. & Fenichel, E. (Eds.) (1996). New visions for the developmental assessment of infants and young children. Washington, DC: Zero to Three: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families.

Meisels, S. J. (1996). Charting the continuum of assessment and intervention. In S. J. Meisels & E. Fenichel (Eds.), New visions for the developmental assessment of Infants and young children (pp. 27–52). Washington, DC: Zero to Three: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families.

Presentations

(Presentations require Powerpoint or a Powerpoint viewer)

Testing the Limits: How High-Stakes Testing Puts Young Children At Risk

Empirical Studies of the Ounce and Work Sampling in Infancy and Early Childhood

Both presented at the National Association for the Education of Young Children annual conference, Dallas, November 2008.

Assessing Language, Literacy, and Mathematics skills with Work Sampling for Head Start
An overview of a study examining the reliability and validity of the language, literacy, and mathematics domains of Work Sampling for Head Start , an observational assessment designed for three and four year olds, presented by Meisels and colleagues at the Ninth Head Start National Research Conference (2008).

Ounce Scale Validation Project
The findings of a study investigating the reliability and validity of the Ounce Scale, a functional assessment of young children’s development from birth through 42 months of age, presented by Meisels and colleagues at the Ninth Head Start National Research Conference (2008).

“Young Children and Accountability: No Easy Answers”
Invited talk, Invest in Kids Working Group,Partnership for America’s Economic Success, June 25, 2007

“Erikson’s Creation Story”
Introduction at Erikson’s 40th anniversary symposium on Social Justice and Child Development, April 2007

“What Head Start Can Teach Us About NCLB”
Presented at a special meeting responding to increasing academic pressure in preschools, held at Erikson in conjunction with the American Educational Research Association annual meeting in April 2007.

“Head Start Assessment: Past, Present, and Future”
An overview of testing methods used in early childhood programs presented at the National Head Start Association conference in May 2005.

“Well Begun is Half Done: Helping Children Succeed in School”, October 2003

“Myths and Realities of Early Care and Development”, August 2002