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Debra Benitez

Debra Benitez is a Senior Research Associate in WestEd’s Comprehensive School Assistance Program (CSAP).

Benitez’ responsibilities include the advancement of CSAP’s education capacity building initiatives by developing organizational knowledge, expertise, and capacity of state and local professionals to use data and feedback to support the selection of evidenced-based practices that inform policy decisions.

Benitez leads and contributes to quantitative and qualitative research and evaluation projects that relate to the creation and/or application of an evidence base in areas such as education system transformation, capacity building, equity, and resource alignment.

She develops and manages resources and materials for systems transformation, training, technical assistance, and professional development activities for professionals who instruct and support youth with diverse and unique needs.

Prior to joining WestEd, Benitez was a special education teacher in a variety of K–12 settings, including public and non-public schools. As a resource specialist for youth with mild to moderate disabilities, she developed and instructed English/language arts and science curricula, evaluated student academic growth, and provided student assessment and consultation to her colleagues.

She has provided professional development and technical assistance to teachers of youth with special needs as well as to local and state education agencies in the areas of systems transformation, education reform, student assessment, individualized education plan development, access to the general curriculum, inclusive practices, education research, and transition and employment development for youth with disabilities.

Benitez has also helped community-based organizations implement and evaluate special education and transition programs for youth with disabilities.

She teaches online graduate courses in special education at the University of Kansas.