Associate Professor Li Cai Named Co-Director of CSE/CRESST

UCLA associate professor of education Li Cai has been named co-director of the Center for the Study of Evaluation/National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CSE/CRESST) at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS), effective Jan. 1, 2012.

Cai, an educational statistician whose work encompasses psychometrics — the quantitative measurement of practices in psychology, education and the social sciences — is broadly recognized as one of the foremost scholars of his generation and has already made numerous substantive contributions while still in his early career.

“Li Cai is a truly outstanding appointment as co-director of CSE/CRESST,” said Aimée Dorr, dean of GSE&IS. “He brings great intellect, exceptional creativity, boundless energy, high productivity and substantial interpersonal skills to this extraordinary research-and-development center.”

As co-director of CSE/CRESST, which for more than 40 years has been a nationally renowned center for the development of scientifically based evaluation and testing techniques in education, Cai will serve alongside UCLA distinguished professor of education Eva Baker, CSE/CRESST senior researcher and partner Joan Herman, and University of Colorado distinguished professor emeritus Robert Linn, who are also CSE/CRESST co-directors.

“I am very excited about Li Cai’s joining the leadership team of Joan Herman, Robert Linn and myself,” Baker said. “His productivity and ingenuity are unprecedented. It is a brilliant appointment of a bright, visionary scholar who will greatly enhance CRESST’s leadership in quantitative methods and psychometrics, now and into the future.”

“It is remarkable that Li Cai has contributed so much to the field in so little time,” said Linn. “He will be a welcome member of our team.”

Herman said: “Li Cai’s great intellect, creativity, problem orientation and collaborative spirit make him a terrific fit for CRESST and its future. I enjoy working with him and am delighted to have him as part of our team.”

An associate professor of advanced quantitative methods in the Social Research Methodology Division of the UCLA Department of Education, Cai, who has done considerable collaborative applied work on addictions, is also affiliated with the UCLA Department of Psychology. His work emphasizes the development of new statistical methods for social science research and the application of new and existing methods of research to scholarship in education, psychology and related fields. In particular, his work centers on the estimation and application of a rich array of latent variable models for measurement and statistical modeling.

A creative and highly regarded scholar who quickly earned national recognition within his field, Cai has already garnered a host of distinguished honors, including a Gulliksen Psychometric Research Fellowship, a competitive yearlong engagement which he received in 2007 from the Educational Testing Service. In 2009, the American Educational Research Association recognized him with its Outstanding Quantitative Dissertation Award for his creative contribution to educational measurement and methodology, and in 2011, he received the prestigious Anne Anastasi Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association.

Since earning his Ph.D. just over three years ago, Cai has given a significant number of talks, addresses and presentations to national research associations and has written prolifically, including more than 31 published or accepted peer-reviewed articles and book chapters; he also released a computer software package in 2011. He has written articles for such prestigious journals as Psychometrika, the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, Psychological Methods, the British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, and Multivariate Behavioral Research.

Cai received a B.A. in business communication from China’s Nanjing University in 2001, an M.A. in journalism and communication from Ohio State University in 2003, and an M.S. in mathematical statistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2006. He earned his Ph.D. in quantitative psychology in 2008 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and joined UCLA as an assistant professor in the fall of 2008.

The Center for the Study of Evaluation (CSE) | National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) conducts research into accountability systems, practices and policies. Housed at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, the center also evaluates a broad number of educational programs and methods, with a central goal of improved achievement for all students and reductions in achievement gaps.

The UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS) includes both the department of education and the department of information studies. Together, the departments embody the school’s commitment to understanding and improving educational practice and policy, information policy, and information systems in a diverse society. GSE&IS’s academic programs bring together faculty and students committed to expanding the range of knowledge in education, information science and associated disciplines. Its professional programs seek to develop librarians, teachers, administrators and information professionals within the enriched context of a research university.