2018 TK Conference Plenary

Event Details Workshop Videos Session Detail Speakers

This year’s plenary featured presentations from renowned California and national experts in the areas of early childhood education (ECE) and dual language learners (DLLs) along with an introduction by Karen Manship from the American Institutes for Research.  

AIR will share findings from their latest TK study, including information on:

  • The impact of TK participation on English learners
  • The program’s effect on student engagement and teacher practices related to social-emotional development
AIR will also share more details about their new DLL Pilot study that is underway through funding from First 5 California and how its findings may be able to help TK educators.

Video recording of the plenary presentation:



Karen Manship
Principal Researcher
American Institutes for Research Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn
Presenting during General Session prior to Plenary
Karen Manship is a Principal Researcher at American Institutes for Research in San Mateo, focusing on early childhood and K-12 education policy and finance. She directed the recent evaluation of transitional kindergarten in California and is currently the project manager for the First 5 California-funded Dual Language Learner Pilot Study.


Plenary speakers addressed the following topics during their presentations:


Dr. Linda M. Espinosa 
Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education University of Missouri, Columbia 
Dr. Linda M. Espinosa is Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She was most recently Co-PI for the Getting on Track for Early School Success: Effective Teaching in Preschool Classrooms project at the University of Chicago and former Co-PI for the Center for Early Care and Education Research—Dual Language Learners (CECER-DLL) at Frank Porter Graham CDI at the U of NC. Dr. Espinosa was a contributing author of the report from NASEM (2017), Promoting the educational success of children learning English. She has co-authored the California Preschool Learning Foundations and Curriculum Frameworks English Language Development Chapters, as well as the DRDP 2010 English Language Development Assessment Measures. Dr. Espinosa served as the lead consultant for the LAUSD Transitional Kindergarten program development team. The second edition of her latest book, Getting it RIGHT for young children from diverse backgrounds was published Jan., 2015.


Dr. Laurie Olsen 
SEAL Founding Director and Strategic Adviser 
Sobrato Family Foundation 
Dr. Laurie Olsen is Founder of the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) PreK-3 initiative, currently being replicated in 100 schools and early education programs across 20 school districts in California. Dr. Olsen has spent the last five decades designing and piloting programs, researching, writing, and providing leadership development and technical assistance on dual language, immigrant and English Learner education. She has published dozens of books, videos and articles on Dual Language/English Learner education. Her research has impacted policies and practices throughout the nation. A dedicated advocate, Dr. Olsen was a founding board member and serves on the Executive Board of Californians Together – a coalition to protect the rights of English Learners, and most recently served as state Co-Chair of California’s English Learner Road Map. For 23 years, Dr. Olsen directed California Tomorrow’s work in PK-12 education. Dr. Olsen holds a PhD in Social and Cultural Studies in Education from U.C. Berkeley.

Dr. Carola Oliva-Olson 
Associate Professor, Early Childhood Studies 
California State University, Channel Islands 
Dr. Carola Oliva-Olson has extensive local, state and national experience working with young DLLs and their families, teachers, administrators and policy leaders, including preparing early care and education teachers to effectively work with children and families from birth to 8. In addition, Dr. Oliva-Olson is an early scholar for a national award from the Foundation for Child Development to analyze the relative significance of three measures of classroom quality, two classroom language models, and initial language performance in predicting language outcomes for Preschool Head Start and Migrant Head Start DLLs. She is a member of the First 5 Santa Barbara Ventura Commission, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Early Childhood Advisory Group, and lead consultant for dual language early learning efforts with Educare California Silicon Valley, Head Start grantees across the nation, and community programs. Dr. Oliva-Olson is a bilingual former toddler, preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade teacher and coach

Dr. Marlene Zepeda 
Professor Emerita 
California State University, Los Angeles 
Dr. Marlene Zepeda is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Child and Family Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. A former preschool and elementary school teacher, Dr. Zepeda’s scholarship focuses on dual language learning in Spanish speaking preschool children and child development in Latino infants and toddlers. Dr. Zepeda has participated in a number of activities relevant to dual language learners. Dr. Zepeda is a member of the Campaign for Quality Early Education, a California advocacy group that lobbies on behalf of Dual Language Learners and currently is a member of Los Angeles’, First Five Commission. Marlene received her BA in Child Development from California State University, Los Angeles and her MA and PhD in Developmental Studies and Early Childhood Education from the University of California, Los Angeles.

About AIR

American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a non-profit behavioral and social science research organization committed to empowering communities, organizations, and institutions with research, evaluation, technical assistance and capacity building focused on the most critical social challenges.  Staff in AIR’s San Mateo, CA office, including in our early childhood and English learner practice areas, have been partnering with early care and education organizations for more than two decades to understand what programs and practices work best to support young children in California. 


Thank you to our plenary panel livestream Media Sponsor,  First 5 LA.