Mark Loveland

Professional Title
Senior Research Associate
About Me (Bio)
Dr. Mark T. Loveland is project director for WestEd’s initiative to evaluate programs for a custom-designed and developed searchable database of effective STEM learning programs for Change the Equation. Dr. Loveland also serves as co-PI of the IES-funded SimScientists and SimScientists Assessment Systems and NSF-funded Calipers II projects, developing and evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of simulation-based curriculum supplements and assessments for teaching complex science concepts to middle school students. He previously coordinated project activities of the management team, project staff, and committee members for the development of the 2014 Technology and Engineering Literacy Framework and Assessment Specifications for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Dr. Loveland has over 18 years of experience working in scientific research and science, mathematics, and technology education. His biomedical research investigated the molecular genetics of breast cancer and other human cancers. Dr. Loveland’s experience in science education spans a wide spectrum, from teaching secondary biology, chemistry and environmental science to the development of formal and informal science education resources. He has created curriculum and teacher professional development programs at the National Academy of Sciences and worked as the coordinator for action research efforts to transform middle school mathematics and science teaching and learning in San Francisco public schools. He received his doctorate from Georgetown University in the Tumor Biology Program at the Lombardi Cancer Center and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from UCLA.

This project has pioneered simulation-based assessments of model-based science learning and inquiry practices for middle school physical and life science systems. The assessment suites include curriculum-embedded, formative assessments that provide  immediate, individualized feedback and graduated coaching with supporting reflection activities as well as summative end-of-unit benchmark assessments. The project has documented the instructional benefits, feasibility, utility, and technical quality of the assessments with over 7,000 students and 80 teachers in four states.


This study addresses the question: Does gaining admission to a selective STEM specialty school improve students' academic success on the SAT, SAT II, and Advanced Placement exams? Other portions of the investigation follow additional student outcomes, including: participation and success in STEM competitions; STEM publications; intentions for postsecondary STEM education and STEM careers; and initial postsecondary STEM education. This study seeks to inform considerations of the cost/benefit of directing resources to support such schools.


The goal of this project is to develop and validate a middle school physical science assessment strand composed of four suites of simulation-based assessments for integrating into balanced (use of multiple measures), large-scale accountability science testing systems. It builds on the design templates, technical infrastructure, and evidence of the technical quality, feasibility, and instructional utility of the NSF-funded Calipers II project. The evaluation plan addresses both formative and summative aspects.