Laura Ballard is a lead research project manager in the Research division at ETS. She received a Ph.D. in second language studies at Michigan State University (MSU) in 2017, in which her dissertation work examined the effects of rubric category order on rater cognition. She also holds a master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages from MSU and a B.A. in Spanish and international studies from the University of Michigan.
Before graduate school, she taught English as a foreign language in Niger and China with the Peace Corps. Prior to ETS, Ballard worked as a project manager and program director at the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), where she oversaw the CAL English Proficiency Test suite and BEST Literacy assessment programs and directed the STARTALK Performance Assessment Training Program for teachers of critical languages.
Since joining ETS in 2018, she has managed several large research projects including the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California computerized cognition labs and the William T. Grant Foundation Language Demands grant. She also manages the TOEFL® Committee of Examiners research program, the TOEFL internal research program, and the RMS Tobii Eye-Tracking Lab.
Her professional memberships include the American Educational Research Association, East Coast Organization of Language Testing, Midwest Association of Language Testers, and International Language Testing Association. She regularly reviews for Language Testing and Language Assessment Quarterly. Her areas of interest include the use of eye-tracking methodology in assessment, computerized testing, rubric development, and accent perception.
In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, hiking, board gaming, and baking.