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Research & Evaluation Division

Members of FPG’s Research and Evaluation Division are committed to conducting research and evaluation studies that improve children’s lives, support families, and inform public policy. Through rigorous study design, data collection and analysis, and dissemination, we seek to identify factors that shape development from infancy to adolescence and to develop and test the effectiveness of interventions, public policies, and public programs. Many members of the division focus on research, development of interventions, and evaluation of programs in early childhood and elementary education, especially programs for children from low-income families and children with disabilities. In addition, members of the division conduct research on child development within children’s environmental contexts, including families, schools, and communities. Projects focus on developmental outcomes related to racial, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity in support of social justice and racial equity.

Featured Projects


Targeted Reading Instruction (TRI) is designed to help teachers in kindergarten and first grade use a diagnostic reading instruction approach to implement individualized reading instruction for children in their classrooms who are struggling with learning how to read. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of TRI on young English learners’ reading achievement. Specifically, this project aims to replicate how the TRI can improve teacher knowledge in both the foundation and the pedagogy of the teaching of reading, and, more importantly, to understand whether the TRI can improve student reading outcomes for young English learners.

Learn more about TRI.


The Supporting paraprofessionals-Teachers use of Evidence-based practices with Learners having Autism (STELA) program is a professional development intervention targeting the knowledge and skills that paraprofessionals need to implement evidence-based practices (EBPs) for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Increasingly, paraprofessionals have the responsibility of delivering instruction and intervention to students with ASD under the supervision of the special education teacher. However, paraprofessionals often need additional training in order to implement EBPs to meet the needs of these students. The current project aims to address this gap by designing a professional development program, STELA, to support paraprofessionals' use of EBPs for students with ASD and ultimately improve student engagement and learning.

Learn more about STELA.

Featured People

Ximena Franco-Jenkins

Ximena Franco-Jenkins, PhD, is an advanced research scientist at FPG. She has more than 15 years of experience in clinical and life-span developmental psychology and applied research. Most of this research experience has been with ethnically diverse children and families within clinic, school, and community settings. She is especially interested in the study of socio-emotional development of preschool-aged dual language learners (DLLs). Her work integrates children's educational and family environments and is aimed at developing culturally robust assessment and intervention strategies for early care and education teachers working with DLLs.

Cathi Propper

Cathi Propper, PhD, is an advanced research scientist at FPG and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at UNC. She is co-PI of the Carolina Consortium on Human Development as well as the director of FPG's Developmental Biobehavioral Core. Cathi’s research investigates child behavioral, emotional, and cognitive outcomes as the result of associations across levels (behavioral, physiological, genetic, environmental) and over time, from the prenatal period to early childhood. Her current NIH-funded study, the Brain and Early Experiences (BEE) Study, examines associations between living in poverty and brain development in children through age 3, with a focus on the experiences that may improve trajectories of cognitive development and executive functioning.

Research & Evaluation Leadership

Noreen Yazejian
Noreen Yazejian

Noreen Yazejian, PhD, is a senior research scientist and lead of the Research and Evaluation Division at the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG). She has extensive experience conducting large-scale, multi-site research and evaluation studies and assessing the quality of practices in early education settings and the effects of variation in quality on children, particularly for vulnerable children. Noreen's research focuses on early childhood program evaluation, including work related to professional development interventions, models of programming birth to five, home visiting, quality rating and improvement systems, and early childhood language and literacy.