Harshini Shah
Human Services

Harshini Shah

Senior Researcher

Harshini Shah has expertise in evaluating programs serving young children and their families. She specializes in developing and adapting early childhood observational and assessment measures.

Since joining Mathematica in 2011, Shah has played key roles on a range of studies assessing children and families. She is the deputy survey director and measurement task lead for the Evaluation of Preschool Special Education Practices, a randomized controlled trial of an intervention for preschool-age children in inclusive classrooms. Measurement for this study includes classroom observations using multiple instruments, child-level observations, child assessments, focus groups, and teacher surveys. For the Infant and Toddler Teacher and Caregiver Competencies project, Shah led a scan of measures designed to assess teachers’ and caregivers’ competencies and developed a compendium of measures. Her latest role is that of deputy project director and deputy survey director on the Head Start REACH project, which aims to improve understanding of how Head Start programs recruit, select, enroll, and retain families experiencing adversities. She is the deputy survey director and measurement co-task lead for the 2017 Early Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey. For this project, in addition to overseeing data collection, she examined and adapted measures to assess classroom and home visit quality, parent engagement, family well-being, and children’s language and social-emotional development. She also developed protocols for conducting observations to assess the quality of Early Head Start classrooms and home visits. Previously, Shah directed a pilot study that adapted the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions for Infants and Toddlers tool (designed for centers and family child care settings) for family, friend, and neighborhood settings.

Shah conducts systematic reviews for projects such as the Learning about Infant and Toddler Early Education Services and the What Works Clearinghouse.

Shah is a reviewer for the National Research Conference on Early Childhood and the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting. She holds a Ph.D. in human development and family studies from Pennsylvania State University.

  • Early childhood development and measurement
  • Classroom observations and direct child assessments
  • Study design and data collection
  • Descriptive analysis and reporting
  • Early Head Start and Head Start
Focus Area Topics
  • Human Services
  • Early Childhood
  • Quality Measurement
  • Professional Development
  • Systematic Evidence Reviews

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