Dr. Wayne Thomas

Dr. Thomas is Professor Emeritus of Evaluation & Research Methodology in the Graduate School of Education at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. His Ph.D. training and primary professional experience are in program evaluation methodology and social science research methods. He also has extensive experience in designing large-scale databases and developing computer software for purposes of student testing, program evaluation, and educational data management. His research and publications focus on the evaluation of school effectiveness for linguistically and culturally diverse students and Title I students and the evaluation of educational technology applications.

He is a former computer programmer & analyst, high school math & physics teacher, and school system central office administrator in school planning, testing, and program evaluation. He teaches doctoral courses in program evaluation, advanced quantitative research methods, and instructional technology; he advises doctoral students on program evaluation and research methods issues; and directs doctoral dissertations. He has formerly served as director of the university's Center for Interactive Educational Technology and as head of the graduate program in Instructional Technology.

Since 1985, he has collaborated with Dr. Virginia Collier in work on school effectiveness for linguistically and culturally diverse students. Currently, he is senior author (with Dr. Collier) of the largest studies ever conducted to investigate the long-term school success of English learners. Their award-winning joint research has been utilized by many school systems in the U.S. and abroad to reform the education of linguistically and culturally diverse students and to promote school improvement for both native English speakers and English learners.

Dr. Virginia Collier

Dr. Virginia Collier is Professor Emerita of Bilingual/Multicultural/ESL Education at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, located in the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. She is best known for her work with senior researcher, Dr. Wayne Thomas, on school effectiveness for linguistically and culturally diverse students, working with many school districts in all regions of the U.S. over the past 34 years. Spotlighted by the national and international media, their award-winning national research studies have had a substantial impact on school policies throughout the world. Since 1988, Drs. Thomas and Collier have been regularly interviewed by the popular media, with 209 published newspaper articles and interviews on television and radio in the U.S. and abroad, reporting on their continuing research findings. A popular speaker, Dr. Collier has given 250 keynote speeches and 511 invited and refereed presentations to international, national, state, and local conferences over the past 39 years. She and Dr. Thomas have conducted educational leadership training for superintendents, principals, and education policy makers in 32 U.S. states and 15 countries.

Drs. Collier and Thomas are authors of five new books that summarize all their research of the past 34 years: Educating English Learners for a Transformed World (2009), Dual Language Education for a Transformed World (2012), Creating Dual Language Schools for a Transformed World: Administrators Speak (2014, with 24 collaborative authors), Why Dual Language Schooling (2017), and Transforming Secondary Education: Middle and High School Dual Language Programs (2018, with 19 collaborative authors). All five books in this series are published in print and electronic form by Dual Language Education of New Mexico-Fuente Press These books present a readable synthesis of research in our field, written for all educators and policy makers, including an overview of the Thomas & Collier research findings with our research figures for staff developers to use. The first and second books have been translated into Spanish and are available in electronic form, and translation is in progress for the fourth book. Drs. Collier & Thomas were invited to summarize their life’s work in “Validating the Power of Bilingual Schooling: Thirty-Two Years of Large-Scale, Longitudinal Research,” published in the 2017 edition of the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics. In addition, Dr. Collier has 72 other publications in the field of language education.

In 1989, Dr. Collier received the Distinguished Faculty Award from George Mason University for excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service. Proficient in Spanish and English, having lived in Central America five years of her childhood, she has served the field of bilingual/ESL education for 49 years as parent, teacher, researcher, teacher educator, and doctoral mentor. In 2005-2006, Drs. Collier and Thomas served as visiting scholars at the University of Texas-El Paso, the University of Texas-Pan American, and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

In their collaborative work, Drs. Thomas and Collier have contributed new theoretical perspectives for the field of bilingual/multicultural education. They are well known for developing the Prism Model, a theory and guide to empirical research. This model makes predictions about program effectiveness, from a theoretical perspective.

Drs. Thomas and Collier have tested the Prism Model by collecting and analyzing program effectiveness data, and they have refined the model based on empirical findings. They have also developed unique theoretical perspectives on analyses of longitudinal student data, to demonstrate the importance of following English learners’ achievement over long periods of time, with school policy implications. By following individual student progress over 5-6 years at minimum (instead of the typical 1-2 years), they have shown that the typical short-term finding of “no significant difference across programs” has misled the field and policy makers; whereas, long-term findings yield extremely significant differences among school programs. They have found with consistency in each of their research studies that only high quality bilingual schooling has the potential to close the academic achievement gap. By introducing degree of gap closure as the primary measure of program success, rather than pre-post score differences among groups, they have shown that English-only and transitional bilingual programs of short duration only close about half of the achievement gap, while high quality long-term bilingual programs close all of the gap after 5-6 years of schooling through two languages.


Featured collection