Director of Accessibility Research
Laurene Christensen is the Director of Accessibility Research at WIDA. In this capacity, she leads WIDA's work in the area of inclusive assessment. Current work includes updates to WIDA's braille assessments, accommodations resources, and an accessibility and accommodations research agenda.
Dr. Christensen is also the Co-Principal Investigator and Project Director for the Advancing ALTELLA project, a competitive assessment grant that was funded to support WIDA's efforts to revamp Alternate ACCESS, an English language proficiency assessment for those multilingual learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Prior to this work, Laurene was the Principal Investigator of the Alternate English Language Assessment (ALTELLA) Project, an enhanced assessment grant that seeks to better understand how to assess the language development of English learners who have significant cognitive disabilities.
Prior to her work at WIDA, Laurene was a research associate at the National Center on Educational Outcomes, where her work was focused on providing technical assistance to states and consortia on all aspects of inclusive assessment for students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners who have disabilities. Her previous work as an ESL teacher has helped Laurene stay focused on students and teachers even when her work has been at the policy level.
Laurene has a Ph.D. in comparative and international development education from the University of Minnesota, an MA-TESOL and an MA in English from Portland State University, and a BA in English from the University of North Dakota. When Laurene isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her two children and her two cats.
Phone: (612) 275-6238
Office: Ed Sciences
Advancing ALTELLA: Alternate Assessment Redesign