Leslie K. Nabors Olah

Research Assistant Professor
Senior Researcher, Consortium for Policy Research in Education

Academic Associate

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

Phone: 215-573-0700 x245

Email: leslieno@gse.upenn.edu

Professional Biography

Dr. Nabors Oláh joined the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) in 2005 and is currently co-principal investigator of two studies investigating teachers’ use of interim assessments in elementary mathematics. Before beginning her research career, she taught English as a Second/Foreign Language at the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Pennsylvania; and the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) in Budapest, Hungary. Her interest in the cognitive processes underlying the acquisition of various languages led her to conduct her dissertation study on native speakers’ learning of Hungarian from the ages of 9-30 months. For this work, Dr. Nabors Oláh adapted the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory (CDI – Words and Sentences) to measure vocabulary and syntactic growth in Hungarian. After receiving her doctorate, she conducted NIH-funded post-doctoral work at the University of Delaware. This study investigated the development of mathematical knowledge from kindergarten through first grade and its relationship to reading development as well as to other socio-demographic factors.

Dr. Nabors Oláh has over a decade of experience editing scholarly work that began when she was editor-in-chief of Working Papers in Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania from 1994 to 1996. From 1998 to 1999 she served on the editorial board of the Harvard Educational Review, acting as its co-chair from 1999 to 2000. She currently reviews manuscripts for the American Educational Research Journal, Child Development, and Early Education and Development. She is the author of articles on child development, the co-editor of a volume on language and literacy, and has presented research findings at both national and international conferences.

Research Interests and Current Projects

A former ESL teacher, Dr. Nabors Oláh began her career conducting basic research on children’s cognitive development. For her dissertation, she collaborated with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to investigate predictors of early Hungarian vocabulary growth, while her National Institute of Health-funded post-doctoral work looked at the relationship between reading and mathematics development in early childhood. Both studies employed growth curve modeling to analyze longitudinal data. As a result of this work, Dr. Nabors Oláh became interested in the ways in which mathematical understanding is tested and assessed in schools.

Dr. Nabors Oláh recently completed an National Science Foundation-funded study of the ways in which teachers use assessment results to modify their classroom instruction and the supports and constraints that affect use of these results. She is currently conducting research on intensive professional development for assessment in elementary mathematics and provides technical assistance to the Penn Partnership Schools in assessment and data use. Her work in this area is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the School District of Philadelphia.

Dr. Nabors Oláh also served as Co-Chair of the Harvard Educational Review from 1999-2000.

Selected Publications

Goertz, M.E., Oláh, L.N., & Riggan, M.: From testing to teaching: The use of interim assessments in classroom instruction. CPRE Research Report (#RR-65). Consortium for Policy Research in Education. 2010.

Oláh, L.N., Lawrence, N.R., & Riggan, M.: Learning to learn from benchmark assessment data: How teachers analyze results. Peabody Journal of Education 85: 226-245, 2010.

Goertz, M.E., Oláh, L.N., & Riggan, M.: Can interim assessments be used formatively? CPRE Policy Brief (#RB-51). Consortium for Policy Research in Education 2009.

Jordan, N., Kaplan D., Olah, L. N., & Locuniak, M.: Number sense growth in kindergarten: A longitudinal investigation of children at risk for mathematics difficulties. Child Development 77: 153-157, 2006.

Beck, S. W. & Olah, L. N. (Eds.): Perspectives on Language and Literacy: Beyond the Here and Now. Harvard Educational Review. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2001.

Olah, L. N.: Editor's review of How Language Comes to Children: From Birth to Two Years by Benedicte de Boysson-Bardies and How Children Learn the Meanings of Words by Paul Bloom. Harvard Educational Review 70: 538-543, 2000.