Staff Spotlight - Roslyn Miller

“I’m really interested in how people learn and then figuring out how to teach effectively based on that. This passion and curiosity drives all that I do, from teaching and presenting to assessing programs and assisting with professional development.”

With Data, Evaluation, Miller Drives Excellence at the RCU

By Anne Hierholzer

Roslyn Miller
Roslyn Miller

When numbers need to be crunched or a program is in need of evaluation, Roslyn Miller is the RCU’s go-to expert. With her research and data skills, Miller plays a key role in the RCU’s communication, research, and evaluation team.

She has a love for the field of education. She is intrigued by the question of how people best learn, and finding the answers to this question and then communicating that information to teachers is what drives her.

“I’m really interested in how people learn and then figuring out how to teach effectively based on that,” said Miller. “This passion and curiosity drives all that I do, from teaching and presenting to assessing programs and assisting with professional development.”

When she joined the RCU in 2012, Miller first worked as a member of the assessment team, where she analyzed data and was instrumental in helping design performance-based assessments (PBA) for Mississippi’s career and technical education (CTE) students. PBA allows students to demonstrate their learning through performance tasks rather than multiple-choice tests. Working with teachers to develop PBA has been a highlight of Miller’s time at the RCU.

“CTE programs are project-oriented and problem based to equip students with college- and career-ready skills,” said Miller. “However, many types of assessments don’t reflect the classroom practices of having students solve problems, create products, and communicate. The CTE PBA are aligned with college- and career-ready standards, providing students the opportunity to directly demonstrate 21st-century skills that they’ve learned in CTE.”

As Miller’s participation in research projects expanded, she transitioned to join the RCU’s research, evaluation, and communication team, where she now contributes to a variety of projects, many of which relate to evaluating the RCU’s programs to ensure that they are efficient and effective. As a research associate, she collects and reports data to ensure that everything from CTE assessments to professional learning programs are working as they should. Miller believes her work as an internal evaluator for the RCU is essential.

“Every section of the RCU has a mission, goals set to achieve that mission, and procedures established to achieve the goals,” said Miller. “It’s easy as humans to focus so much on our day-to-day procedures that we take our eyes off our goals and our mission. The RCU set up an internal-evaluation process so that we will continually view all our procedures through the lens of our goals and mission. It’s an intentional process for continual self-improvement.”

Miller also plays an important role in several research projects the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) contracts to the RCU. She has conducted research on a number of initiatives, ranging from new evaluation systems for principals and teachers to a pilot to test the feasibility of performance pay for teachers.

Miller’s work at the RCU is grounded in her own experience as a teacher. She spent many years in the classroom as a high school mathematics teacher in California. When she and her husband made the move to Starkville 10 years ago, Miller made the transition to school support services, leading after-school programs and summer camps for Family-Centered Programs in the Starkville School District and then served as a research associate and instructor in the MSU College of Education.

“I loved, and still love, teaching students, regardless of their age,” said Miller. “My transitions to leading after-school programs and then to teacher preparation and education research have all been extensions of teaching in a K-12 classroom. Providing people opportunities to learn important concepts and skills in effective environments with effective teachers is my professional mission, and I view all my work through that lens.”

Since she began work at the RCU, Miller is particularly proud of her national presentations and the reports submitted to the MDE. With her passion for education and desire to continue to progress in the field, she views these accomplishments as milestones in her education career.

As part of advancing her career, Miller is currently hard at work completing a PhD in curriculum and instruction at MSU. She believes that the most rewarding part of being a PhD student has been learning to design, conduct, and report research that helps educators develop more effective teaching and learning environments.

When she’s not at the RCU, Miller enjoys indulging her love of cooking (“Anything flavorful is my favorite!”) and gardening. She is also busy helping her daughter, a kindergarten teacher in Oklahoma City, prepare for her upcoming wedding. Miller and her husband, Andy, also have a son who is pursuing a degree in biomedical engineering from MSU.

Although her many research and evaluation projects keep her busy, Miller finds enjoyment in working with others to improve education in Mississippi.

“I love interacting and talking with people, especially other educators throughout the state,” she said. “I am motivated by believing my work is going toward improving their professional learning and development.”

Fun Facts

  • Hometown:

    Vicksburg, MS, where she spent most of her childhood
  • What would we find on your DVR?

    Madam Seretary; Bluebloods; Downton Abbey; Elementary
  • What's playing in your earbuds?

    Pandora’s Hipster Cocktail Party station, which is a great mix of old Mississippi blues, Motown, Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé, and Adele
  • Favorite books:

    North Toward Home by Willie Morris (“great use of the English language”) and Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (“an expertly-woven story”)
  • Favorite subject in school:

    History. I loved the way history focused on stories and storytelling. I think people remember things better if you put them in a story, and it’s a strategy I still use in my work today!
  • Favorite books:

    My favorite “grown-up” book is To Kill A Mockingbird; it’s a great story with great takeaways about how we relate to others. And from my K-1 education days, I love anything by Dr. Seuss!
  • If I wasn't working at the RCU, I would...

    own a restaurant, bed and breakfast, or food truck with my husband.
  • When I’m not at work, you’re most likely to find me...

    working on my dissertation! Or, when I’m procrastinating, out in my garden or cooking.