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Michael L. López, Ph.D.

Principal Associate, Social & Economic Policy

Michael L. López, Ph.D. Michael L. López, Ph.D.
Michael L. López is a nationally renowned authority on the development, education and well-being of young children, including low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse populations.  As a principal associate in education, Lόpez leads the new National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families, in partnership with Child Trends. The Center is dedicated to providing research findings and tools to advance the capacity of the field to serve Hispanic children and families.   
Before joining Abt, Lόpez was the executive director of the National Center for Latino Child & Family Research in Washington, D.C.  Earlier, he was director of Child Outcomes Research & Evaluation for ACF’s Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation where he developed and directed national research projects including the National Head Start Impact Study.
Lόpez, a reviewer of Child Development and ad hoc reviewer of Early Childhood Research Quarterly, has co-authored more than 20 articles and papers. Examples of his publications include: Co-author of a book reviewing the psychometric properties of language and literacy measures used with Spanish-speaking, dual language learner preschoolers; and a co-author on a study examining the psychometric characteristics of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) used to assess teacher–child interactions within preschool classrooms serving dual language learners.
Frequently sought out for his expertise, Lόpez was a consultant to First 5 LA and the Los Angeles Universal Preschool Initiative, as well as the California Early Learning Foundations for preschool-aged children. He has also served as an advisory committee member for the Sesame Workshop Military Families Project: “Talk, Listen, Connect,” and currently serves as a board member for the High Scope Educational Research Foundation and Parents as Teachers.

Lόpez is a member of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute’s Executive Leadership Board. 

Lόpez holds both a Master’s and Doctoral Degree in Child and Family Clinical Psychology with his Ph.D. specialty in Pediatric Psychology. Both degrees are from Michigan State University.
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  • Applied policy research
  • Early childhood research
  • Early care and education
  • Low-income populations
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse populations
  • Psychometrics of early childhood assessments
  • Children’s mental health and socioemotional well-being


  • National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families, Administration on Children and Families (ACF) 
  • Systematic Review of Evidence on Early Childhood Education for What Works Clearinghouse, U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES)
  • National Evaluation of i3, US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES) 


  • 2001DHHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award; Fatherhood Initiative Team
  • 1999: DHHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award for participating in 1998 reauthorization of the Head Start Act
  • 1996: DHHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award for aiding in the development of the new Early Head Start program for disadvantaged infants & toddlers & its national evaluation
  • 1988-1989: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Minority Fellowship
  • 1986-1987: Michigan Department of Education - Nominated for Outstanding Hispanic College Graduate of the Year Award
  • 1985-1986: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Fellowship in Pediatric Psychology

Selected Publications

  • Barrueco, S., López, M. L., Ong, C. A., & Lozano, P. (2012). Assessing Spanish-English Bilingual Preschoolers: A Guide to Best Approaches and Measures. Brookes Publishing, Baltimore, MD.
  • Downer, J.T., López, M.L., Grimm, K.J., Hamagami, A., Pianta, R.C., & Howes, C. (2012). Observations of teacher–child interactions in classrooms serving Latinos and dual language learners: Applicability of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System in diverse settings, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Volume 27, Issue 1, Pages 21-32.
  • Burchinal, M., Fields, S., López, M.L., Howes, C. & Pianta, R. (2012) Instruction in Spanish in Pre-kindergarten Classrooms and Child Outcomes for English Language Learners. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Volume 27, Issue 2, 2nd Quarter 2012, Pages 188-197.
  • LeBoeuf, W.L., Fantuzzo, J.W., & López, M.L. (2010) Measurement and Population Miss-Fits: A Case Study on the Importance of Using Appropriate Measures to Evaluate Early Childhood Interventions. Applied Developmental Science, 14(1), 45-53.
  • López, M. L., Mattox, T., Fallin, K., Rawal, P.H., & Twohy, E.L. (2009). Latino Child Care Utilization Patterns in Los Angeles County 2002-2003. Report prepared for First 5 LA.
  • Barrueco, S., López, M.L. & Miles, J.C. (2007). Parenting behaviors in the first year of life: A national examination of Latinos and other cultural groups. Latinos and Education, 6(3), 253-265.
  • Espinosa, L. & López, M.L. (2007). Assessment Considerations for Young English Language Learners Across Different Levels of Accountability. Commissioned paper for First 5 Los Angeles and the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Early Childhood Accountability Project.
  • Puma, M., Bell, S., Cook, R., Heid, C., López, M. L., et al. (2005) Head Start Impact Study: First Year Findings. Westat. Report Prepared for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • López, M. L., Tarullo, L. B., Forness, S. R. & Boyce, C. A. (2000). Early identification and intervention: Head Start’s response to mental health challenges. Journal of Early Childhood Education and Development. 11(3), 265-282.