Strassberger joined MDRC in 2013 and works in two roles: implementation researcher and data collection manager. As an implementation researcher, she plans and executes qualitative implementation studies—designing protocols, conducting site visits, interviewing participants, and analyzing data. Current projects include Head Start Connects, Understanding Poverty, and the Mother and Infant Home Visiting Program Evaluation (MIHOPE). As a data collection manager, she plans and directs large-scale data collection efforts for MDRC’s randomized controlled trials, working with teams to design and select measures, leading data collector training sessions, and monitoring the collection of multiple types of data (surveys, classroom observations, parental consent forms, and child assessments). Current projects include the Expanding Children’s Early Learning Network study and the Variations in Implementation of Quality Interventions (VIQI) study.
Before joining MDRC, Strassberger worked at Mathematica Policy Research on projects with policy implications in the international, health, early childhood, and disability fields. While in graduate school, she worked in Indonesia at Helen Keller International, using ethnography to review a program that increases access to education for children with disabilities. Strassberger holds a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, with a concentration on sociomedical sciences and global health, and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Emory University.
Findings from the Head Start Connects Case StudiesFebruary, 2023
How do Head Start programs coordinate family support services and are their practices aligned with each family’s needs and well-being? This report presents case studies of six programs across the country and explores service coordination from multiple perspectives—Head Start staff members, families, and local community service providers.Brief
Families’ Stories from the Early Months of the COVID-19 PandemicJuly, 2022
This report describes how the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the economic circumstances and emotional well-being of a small sample of families with younger children and low incomes. It adds meaningful context to the nationally reported aggregate statistics about the pandemic and its effects on families and children.Report
Results of a Qualitative Study Exploring the Perspectives of Children and Their ParentsJuly, 2022
Some 10.5 million children in this country live in poverty, yet little is known about how they and their families view their daily experiences of poverty. In this report, children, adolescents, and their parents who participate in social safety net programs discuss their perceptions of poverty, wealth, and economic inequality.Brief
Head Start’s Family Support ServicesMarch, 2022
This brief outlines how Head Start programs responded to the ever-evolving public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic—shifting activities to virtual formats, adapting in-person activities to local restrictions, and maintaining connections with families and community providers.Report
Assessing Higher Achievement’s Out-of-School Expansion EffortsJune, 2020
The intensive program for middle school students was successfully replicated in three new cities, significantly improving grades after two years. The findings suggest that Higher Achievement could be a model nationwide to help close the learning gap between children born into poverty and their middle-class peers.
- Determining the ...
Variations in Implementation of Quality Interventions (VIQI): Examining the Quality-Child Outcomes Relationship in Child Care and Early EducationJoAnn Hsueh, Michelle Maier, Frieda Molina, Samantha Wulfsohn, Marie-Andrée Somers, Electra Small, Sharon Huang, Amena Sengal, Alexandra Bernardi, Marissa Strassberger, Noemi Altman, Ilana Blum, Ebony Scott, Margaret Hennessy, Mervett Hefyan, Mallory Undestad, Sharon Rowser, Amy Taub
The Variations in Implementation of Quality Interventions (VIQI): Examining the Quality-Child Outcomes Relationship in Child Care and Early Education project is a large-scale, rigorous study with several important aims and implications for current child care and early education policy and practices, including:
One of the hallmarks of Head Start is its whole-family approach to the services it provides. This approach is informed by evidence that low-income parents face challenges related to health, safety, and financial stability that can affect their well-being and economic mobility and their children’s school readiness. The Head Start Program Performance Standards (...Carolyn Hill, M. Victoria Quiroz Becerra, Stephanie Rubino, Samantha Wulfsohn, Gilda Azurdia, Marissa Strassberger
The official poverty rate for the U.S. population is high, at 13.5 percent, and the rate among children is higher still, at 19.7 percent. The body of research examining deep poverty, severe deprivation, and stress associated with poverty in adults has grown steadily with continued interest in recent years; however, qualitative research...JoAnn Hsueh, Sharon Huang, Meghan McCormick, Michelle Maier, Rebecca Unterman, Desiree Principe Alderson, Barbara Condliffe, Amena Sengal, Sonia Drohojowska, Ilana Blum, Marissa Strassberger, Marie-Andrée Somers, Noemi Altman, Alexandra Bernardi, Mirjana Pralica, Mervett Hefyan, Jálynn Castleman-Smith, Mallory Undestad, Samantha Xia, Emily Davies, Sharon Rowser, Amy Taub
With broad support across the political spectrum, states and localities throughout the country are expanding preschool programs for low-income children. While the public will is strong and the experience to date is encouraging, there is a need for firmer evidence on the most cost-effective ways to produce lasting impacts for children, especially when programs operate...
Under-resourced students will have a steep road ahead as they master new Common Core standards. Schools will also face the challenge of finding sufficient resources to deliver higher-level content in effective, engaging ways. Out-of-school-time (OST) programs, particularly those focused on academic performance, could be one way to provide...Shira Kolnik Mattera, Sharon Huang, Seth Muzzy, Samantha Wulfsohn, Marissa Strassberger, Amena Sengal, Mirjana Pralica
The High 5s project is part of the Robin Hood Early Childhood Research Initiative, a partnership between MDRC and the Robin Hood Foundation focused on improving the life trajectories of low-income children in New York City. The Initiative’s first project, Making Pre-K Count...Barbara S. Goldman, Sharon Huang, Shira Kolnik Mattera, Michelle Maier, Seth Muzzy, Electra Small, Samantha Wulfsohn, Marissa Strassberger, Amena Sengal, Mirjana Pralica, Samantha Xia, Cullen MacDowell
Making Pre-K Count is the result of a partnership between MDRC and the Robin Hood Foundation whose goal is to build evidence about ways to improve the life trajectories of children living in poverty in New York City. The partnership’s first project focuses on improving preschool children’s math skills.
Why math? Recent...Virginia Knox, Charles Michalopoulos, JoAnn Hsueh, Desiree Principe Alderson, Dina A. R. Israel, Erika Lundquist, Electra Small, Carolyn Hill, Rebecca Behrmann, Ximena Portilla, Anne Warren, Samantha Xia, Kelly Saunders, Ilana Blum, Mallory Undestad, Emily Davies, Cullen MacDowell, Marissa Strassberger, Sharon Rowser, Livia Martinez, Helen Lee
Home visiting programs operate around the country to prevent child maltreatment, improve maternal and child health outcomes, and increase school readiness. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 authorized the creation of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, expanding federal funding of home...