Melissa L. Gholson is a research scientist in the Research & Development division at ETS. She has a passion for issues of social justice; access and equity in education; and research of special populations, including economically disadvantaged, low performing, English language learners, and students with disabilities. Her research interests include improving research methods for investigations of diverse populations, improving fairness in testing, universal design, and accommodations in testing. Her publications include research for validating a scale for poverty attitudes, empirical studies on English learners with significant cognitive disabilities, and an investigation of adult outcomes using the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies data set.
Her research at ETS has focused on assessment design, validity, fairness, and accessibility for K–12 programs and includes conducting cognitive labs, developing theories of action, and consultation for alternate assessments. She is the current chair of the American Education Research Association Special Interest Group on Inclusion and Accessibility in Educational Assessment (SIG 96). Gholson is also a frequently sought-after and experienced peer reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education and serves as a technical advisor for state assessments. Prior to coming to ETS, she served as a leader of state assessment, accountability, and research and was a researcher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She has 25 years of public education service and earned a doctorate in educational administration from Ohio University.