DongMei Li

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Senior Research/Evaluation Associate, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee


Ph.D., Educational Policy, University of Texas at Austin
M.Ed., Curriculum Studies, UT at Austin
M.A., English Language and Literature, Shanghai Jiaotong University, P.R. China
B.A., English Education, Shandong Normal University, P.R. China


Policy Analysis, Policy Impact & Implementation Studies: Educational Reform; School Accountability, High-stakes testing, Gender Inequity in Computer Science, Charter Competition; Access & Inequality Associated with Migrant Education & Undergrad Admissions


Jennifer Jellison Holme


Holding Public Schools Accountable on Non-Testing Measures: Examining the Local Evaluation of “Community and Student Engagement” in Texas

As resistance to high-stakes testing has grown across the country, some states have experimented with non-testing based and local models of accountability reform.  Texas is one such state, which implemented the ‘Community and Student Engagement’ (CASE) policy.

To date, however, little work has thoroughly examined new reforms like CASE.  Meanwhile, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) grants states flexibility towards assessment and takes full effect in the 2017-18 school year.  Without an understanding of current reforms, we will lack the empirical knowledge to inform states how to best access the ESSA opportunity to improve their accountability systems.  To remedy this gap, this project examined CASE, the new policy added to Texas’ accountability system in 2013.

Using mixed methods, including collecting survey data from one-third of the districts across the state and conducting semi-structured interviews with a subsample of district leaders, I explored how school district leaders perceive the CASE policy and its impact, and how they implemented the policy.  The analysis of survey data shows an overall support of CASE by most district leaders and different patterns of perceptions by district type.  The results from survey and interview data indicate varying policy implementation and impact patterns.


DongMei Li is currently a HERC postdoctoral research fellow associated with Dept. of Sociology, Rice University.  She participates in research projects that aim to close socioeconomic gaps on educational achievement and attainment in Houston and that are jointly developed by the university and local school districts.  Originally from P.R. China, DongMei received her B.A in English Education and first master’s degree in English Language and Literature in her home country.   Then she earned her second master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.  Grounded in U.S. and China, Dr. Li’s research focuses on educational reform and outcomes, school accountability, high-stakes testing, education access, inequality, and inequity.  Her research employs quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods.

During her time at UT, DongMei received teaching and research assistantship training from Dept. of educational Administration (now Educational Leadership and Policy) and the Office of Strategy and Policy, UT at Austin.  DongMei also worked as an education policy fellow in the Office of Texas State Representative Mary Gonzalez and as a research intern at Center for Public Policy Priorities during the 2015 and 2017 legislative sessions, respectively.  Dr. Li was a 2013-2015 cohort Jackson scholar and awarded the UT Graduate School Dissertation Writing Fellowship to support her dissertation completion.