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Faculty & Research

Nonie K. Lesaux

Roy Edward Larsen Professor of Education and Human Development

Nonie K. Lesaux

Degree:  Ph.D., University of British Columbia, (2003)
Email:  [javascript protected email address]
Vitae/CV:   Nonie K. Lesaux.pdf
Office:  Larsen 319
Faculty Assistant:  Cruz Brito


Nonie K. Lesaux is the Larsen Professor of Education and Human Development. Her research focuses on promoting the language and literacy skills of today's children from diverse linguistic, cultural and economic backgrounds, and is conducted largely in urban and semi-urban cities and school districts. Lesaux's work has earned her the William T. Grant Scholars Award, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the United States government to young professionals beginning their independent research careers. She has served on the U.S. Department of Education's Reading First Advisory Committee, and the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council's Committee on the Science of Children Birth to Age 8. In addition to her faculty appointment at HGSE, Lesaux currently serves as the chair of the Massachusetts' Board of Early Education and Care. Lesaux's developmental and experimental research on school-age children and youth investigates language, reading, and social-emotional development; classroom quality and academic growth; and strategies for accelerating language and reading comprehension. Her research on our youngest children, with colleague Stephanie Jones, focuses on the challenge of simultaneously expanding and improving the quality of early childhood education, at scale (The Leading Edge of Early Childhood Education, Harvard Education Press, 2016). Lesaux's research appears in numerous scholarly publications, and its practical applications are featured in three books: Teaching Advanced Literacy Skills (Guilford Press, 2016), Cultivating Knowledge, Building Language: Literacy Instruction for English Learners in Elementary School (Heinemann, 2015), and Making Assessment Matter: Using Test Results to Differentiate Reading Instruction (Guilford, 2011). She is also the author of a widely circulated state literacy report, Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success, that forms the basis for a Third Grade Reading Proficiency bill passed in Massachusetts.

Areas of Expertise

Sources of Reading Comprehension Difficulty for English Language William F. Milton Fund (2006-2007) and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (2006-2007)


Scholars Award, William T. Grant Foundation,(2007)

National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship,(2005)

Finalist, International Reading Association Outstanding Dissertation Competition,(2004)

Doctoral Fellowship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada,(2001)

Doctoral Training Award, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Population Health Division,(2001)

Joseph Katz Memorial Scholarship, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia,(2001)

Marg Csapo Scholarship, British Columbia Teacher's Federation,(2001)

Wilda Adams Memorial Scholarship, University of British Columbia,(2000)

Doreen Kronick Scholarship, Learning Disabilities Association of Canada,(1999)

Sponsored Projects


Partnering in Education Research (PIER): A Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Training Program (2015-2022)

Over the past decade, districts, states and the federal government have invested heavily in education data systems. Those data are a vital national resource, with the potential to illuminate many longstanding debates in education. Yet the data remain vastly underutilized by the education research community. Through the Partnering in Education Research (PIER) fellowship, we will train the next generation of education scholars to collaborate with school agencies to put the data to use. To succeed, they will need more than the quantitative methodological skills taught in graduate programs. We have designed the program to provide the other soft and hard skills they will need to work successfully with school agencies: translating practitioners’ questions into tractable research questions, understanding when and where randomization and quasi-experimental designs are feasible, negotiating the fine points of a data security agreement, preserving relationships while reporting results with rigor and objectivity. While on campus, the fellows will work with a community of prominent social scientists from across the Harvard campus (specifically, the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS), and the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)). In addition, the fellows will have access to the unique network of more than 60 school agencies around the country with whom the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard currently works. Each fellow will:• Serve as a research apprentice on education projects for a PIER core faculty member;• Be placed in an agency internship with one of our partner education agencies, during which they will design and execute a research project in collaboration with agency leadership;• Attend an annual Partnership Discovery Event connecting researchers with education leaders to design research projects on particular themes, such as “blended learning” or “teacher evaluation”; • Take part in a pro-seminar in education research. The seminar series will include “Director’s Cut” sessions given by leading researchers, in which they will describe how their research project came about and the challenges overcome along the way. Approximately 28 doctoral students will receive two- or three-year PIER fellowships. Across all cohorts, the PIER fellowship will support 68 fellowship years.


Katzir, T., Lesaux, N.K., & *Kim, Y. (in press). The role of reading self-concept and home literacy environment in fourth grade reading comprehension.,(forthcoming)

Kieffer, M. J. & Lesaux, N.K. (in press). The role of morphology in the reading comprehension of Spanish-speaking English Language Learners. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal.,(forthcoming)

Lesaux, N.K., Rupp, A.A., & Siegel, L.S. (in press). Growth in reading skills of children from diverse linguistic backgrounds: Findings from a 5-Year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology.,(forthcoming)

Samson, J. & Lesaux, N.K. (in press). Language minority learners in special education: Rates and predictors of identification for services. Journal of Learning Disabilities.,(forthcoming)

Kieffer, M.J., Lesaux, N.K., & Snow, C.E. (in press). Promises and pitfalls: Implications of No Child Left Behind for identifying, assessing, and educating English language learners. In G. Sunderman (Ed.), Holding NCLB Accountable: Achieving Accountability, Equity, and School Reform. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.,(forthcoming)

Lesaux, N.K., Vukovic, R.K., Hertzman, C., & Siegel, L.S. (2007). Context matters: Examining the early literacy skills and developmental health of kindergartners. Early Education & Development, 18, 497-518.,(2007)

Kieffer, M.J. & Lesaux, N.K. (2007). Breaking down words to build meaning: Morphology, vocabulary, and reading comprehension in the urban classroom. The Reading Teacher, 61, 134-144.,(2007)

Lesaux, N.K. & Geva, E. (2006). Synthesis: Development of literacy in language minority learners. In D. L. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.) Developing Literacy in a second language: Report of the National Literacy Panel. (pp. 53-74). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.,(2006)

Francis, D.J., Lesaux, N.K., Rivera, M., *Kieffer, M.J., & Rivera, H. (2006). Practical guidelines for the education of English language learners. Portsmouth, NH: Center on Instruction.,(2006)

Lesaux, N.K. (with Koda, K., Siegel, L.S. & Shanahan, T). (2006). Development of literacy of language minority learners. In D. L. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.) Developing literacy in a second language: Report of the National Literacy Panel. (pp.75-122). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.,(2006)

Rupp, A.A., Lesaux, N.K., & Siegel, L.S. (2006). Meeting expectations? An empirical investigation of a standards-based reading assessment. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 28(4), 315-333.,(2006)

Ragan, A., & Lesaux, N.K. (2006). Federal, state, and district level English Language Learner program entry and exit requirements: Effects on the education of language minority learners. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 14(20).,(2006)

Lipka, O., Lesaux, N.K., & Siegel, L.S. (2006). Retrospective analyses of the reading development of a group of grade 4 disabled readers: Risk status and profiles over 5 years. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39(4), 364-378.,(2006)

Lesaux, N.K., Lipka, O., & Siegel, L.S. (2006). Investigating cognitive and linguistic abilities that influence the reading comprehension skills of children from diverse linguistic backgrounds. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19(1), 99-131.,(2006)

Lesaux, N.K., Pearson, R., & Siegel, L.S. (2006). The effects of timed and untimed testing conditions on the reading comprehension performance of adults with reading disabilities. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 19(1), 21-48.,(2006)

Lesaux, N.K. (2006). Building consensus: Future directions for research on English Language Learners at-risk for learning difficulties. Teachers College Record, 108(11), 2406-2434.,(2006)

Francis, D.J., Lesaux, N.K., & August, D.L. (2006). Language of instruction for language minority learners. In D. L. August & T. Shanahan (Eds.) Developing Literacy in a second language: Report of the National Literacy Panel. (pp.365-414). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.,(2006)

Lesaux, N.K. & *Crosson, A.C. (2005). Addressing variability and vulnerability: Promoting the academic achievement of English learners in San Diego. In R. Hess (Ed.). Urban Reform: Lessons from San Diego (pp.263-281). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.,(2005)

Lesaux, N.K, & Siegel, L.S. (2003). The development of reading in children who speak English as a second language (ESL). Developmental Psychology, 39(6),1005-1019.,(2003)

Wilson, A.M. & Lesaux, N.K. (2001). Persistence of phonological processing deficits in college dyslexics with age-appropriate reading skills. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34, 394-400.,(2001)


Member, International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities

Member, Society for the Scientific Study of Reading

Society for Research in Child Development

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