Our Study Team

James DiPerna, PhD
Lead Researcher

Jim is Professor and Director of the School Psychology Program at Penn State. Jim’s research program focuses on the promotion of social, emotional, and academic competence in school settings. He is the lead author of the Academic Competence Evaluation Scales (ACES) and co-author of the Academic Intervention Monitoring System (AIMS), which are resources that assist educators with developing classroom-based interventions for students academically at-risk.

Email: jdiperna@psu.edu

Puiwa Lei, PhD
Methodologist & Co-Lead Researcher

Puiwa is Professor of Education in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education at Penn State. Puiwa’s expertise is in the areas of Educational Measurement and Statistics. Her research interests focus on methodological issues and applications of multivariate statistical analyses, particularly structural equation modeling, multilevel modeling, and item response theory.

Email: puiwa@psu.edu

Susan Crandall Hart, PhD
Senior Project Coordinator

Susan is a postdoctoral scholar at Penn State, where her research focuses on school-based prevention and intervention. She was previously a special education teacher and administrator in New York City.

Email: susan.hart@psu.edu

The Pennsylvania State University is a multi-campus, land-grant, public research university that educates students from around the world, and supports individuals and communities through integrated programs of teaching, research, and service.


PEAK is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant R305A170047 to The Pennsylvania State University. The mission of IES is to provide rigorous and relevant evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and to disseminate this information broadly.

Want to Learn More?

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like additional information or have questions about our work!