Maria Stephens

Senior Researcher

Maria Stephens is a senior researcher at AIR. She has over 25 years of experience related to international and national large-scale assessments, including the processes required for their development and implementation, the communication of their results to a wide range of audiences, and studies that compare their content with other assessments and standards.

Explore the interactive TIMSS Stats in Brief, co-authored by Stephens, that examines changes between 2011 and 2019 in the achievement gaps between high- and low- performing students.

Currently, Stephens provides support to the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) Assessment Division, serving both international and national activities. For NCES, she leads activities to improve the utilization of international data at the domestic level and assists staff in making strategic decisions regarding the future of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), as well as leads the Commissioner’s indicators review team. She has served as lead writer of the national reports on the 2015 and 2019 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the first web-based interactive Statistics in Brief (on TIMSS). She also recently co-led the preparation of a follow-up, in-depth report on TIMSS Advanced, a synthesis of score trends across the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and other large-scale assessments, and a report on the PISA Young Adult Follow-up Study. 

In the area of content comparison studies, she has led work related to international assessments, NAEP, and/or other national standards. For example, she co-authored a report comparing the Next Generation Science Standards with three closely related frameworks from NAEP. For the National Assessment Governing Board, she led a study to compare mathematics curricular content standards across states with NAEP mathematics assessment objectives to inform NAEP framework development; for Johns Hopkins University, she led studies to compare state assessments in Louisiana and Texas with PISA assessments in reading and mathematics. Stephens has also applied comparison methods in novel areas such as English language learning standards. 

During her time at AIR, Stephens has also worked in the areas of school reform and improvement (e.g., Syracuse Say Yes to Education Project) and English learners (e.g., evaluation of the National Professional Development Program for teachers of English language learners).

Maria Stephens headshot

M.P.P., Public Policy, University of Maryland; B.A., Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia