• Ph.D. 1991 – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Developmental Psychology
  • M.A. 1984 -University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Developmental Psychology
  • B.A. 1981 – Vanderbilt University, Psychology & Spanish

Areas of Expertise

  • Early Care and Education
  • State Pre-K
  • Program Evaluation
  • School Readiness
  • Longitudinal Development
  • Dual Language Learners
  • Response to Intervention (RTI)


Ellen Peisner-Feinberg, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist and Research Professor at the School of Education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As a developmental psychologist with training in public policy, she has been interested in the early educational opportunities and experiences for young children; the effects of those experiences; and how we can improve outcomes through policy and practice. Her research focuses on the quality of early education experiences and the effects on children, particularly for children from low-income families, dual-language learners, and children in at risk circumstances. Her work includes research and evaluation of state and national pre-k programs and quality improvement initiatives, as well as research on targeted intervention strategies in pre-k and the links between educational instruction and outcomes. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as a researcher and program evaluator for nearly 30 years in the areas of early education, child development, and the intersections with state and federal policy initiatives.

Some of her key research efforts include a series of evaluations of the NC Pre-K Program, Georgia’s Pre-K Program, the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts Program, and the MECK Pre-K Program; a longitudinal study of rural education in NC as part of the IES Early Learning Network; a program of research on Recognition & Response (R&R), a pre-k targeted instructional model; the Center for Early Care and Education Research-Dual Language Learners (CECER-DLL), a national center examining research issues for young dual language learners; the Head Start Quality Research Centers, a national research consortium that studied quality issues in Head Start; the statewide evaluation of Smart Start in NC; and the Cost, Quality, and Outcomes Project (CQO), one of the first national studies of center-based child care and children’s longitudinal development through elementary school.