Carlos Ayala faculty profile
Carlos Ayala


Phone: 664-2132

Office: Stevenson Hall 1078

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Carlos Ayala

Dean, School of Education and
Professor, Department of Curriculum Studies and Secondary Education


Carlos Cuauhtémoc Ayala is Dean of Education at Sonoma State University. He has taught courses on secondary science methods as well as courses of quantitative research methods at University of California at Davis. His current research focuses on understanding student science learning through formative assessment, and computer science simulations for learning and assessment. He has developed simulations to tap into middle school students' notions of forces and motion as well as developing High School Chemistry formative assessments using Minstrell's Diagnoser program. He currently serves as CoPI and PI on two NSF grants and is an advisor to multiple NSF formative assessment projects as well as serves on the NAEP Technology Literacy Planning Committee. He proposes "Assessment Pedagogies" as a model of formative assessment (Ayala and Brandon, 2008).

Dr. Ayala started his professional career as a fuel alcohol chemist with the United Energy Corporation. He then taught science and math in California Public schools for 10 years. He served as a school principal of a bilingual whole language elementary school. He completed his graduate work with Dr. Richard Shavelson at Stanford University in 2002. He believes that it is the role of teachers to keep the joy of learning alive for all children and that assessments can be used to bring out the genius in all students.


  • 2002: Stanford University, Ph.D. Curriculum and Teacher Education Science Education Advisor Dr. Richard Shavelson, Dissertation Title: On the Cognitive Validity of Science Performance Assessments. Minor Psychology.
  • 1997: San Diego State University, Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership
  • 1996: San Diego State University: California Administrative Services Credential
  • 1985: University of California-Santa Cruz: Bachelors of Arts Chemistry and Environmental Studies
  • 1985: University of California-Santa Cruz: California Multiple Subject Bilingual Teaching Credential (Elementary)
  • 1985: University of California-Santa Cruz: California Single Subject Teaching Credential-Physical Science and Chemistry- Bilingual (Secondary; current)

Research Interests

  • Science Education
  • Science Inquiry
  • Formative Assessment
  • Teacher Performance Assessment
  • Technology Based Teaching and Assessment

Academic & Professional Experience

  • Bilingual Science and Math Teacher, De Anza Junior High, Calexico CA.
  • Chemist, United Energy Corporation, Borrego Spring, CA
  • Director of Assessment and Accreditation, Sonoma State University
  • Director of the Science Mathematics Teacher Recruitment Initiative, Sonoma State
  • NAEP:  Technology Assessment Planning Committee
  • NSF: Assistments Program Evaluator
  • NSF: CAMEOS project program evaluator
  • NSF: Program Reviewer Various programs
  • Principal, Dool Elementary School
  • Professor, Curriculum Studies and Secondary Education, Sonoma State University
  • Research Associate, Stanford Educational Assessment Lab
  • Senior Research Associate, WESTED  Mathematics Science and Technology Group

Recent Scholarship and Publications

  • Chase, A., Freed, R., Haydel, A. &  Ayala, C (April, 2011).  Understanding the breath of formative assessment targets.  Paper presented for the National Association of Research of Science Teaching.
  • Ayala, C.,  Katz, A & Others, (April, 2011) Chemistry Facets: Formative Assessments in Chemistry.  A paper and workshop for the National Association for Science Teachers Conference, San Francisco, CA.
  • Ruiz-Primo, M.A., Furtak, E., Ayala, C.C. Yin, Y., & Shavelson, R. (2010).  Formative Assessment, Motivation and Science Learning. In H. L. Andrade & G. J. Cizek (Eds.), Handbook of Formative Assessment (pp.159-158)  New York: Routledge.
  • Ayala, C. et al. (April 2009),  Facet-based Approaches to Diagnostic Science Assessment American Research Association Conference, Spring 2009.
  • Ayala, C. C. et al. (2008a) From formal embedded assessments to reflective lessons:  the development of formative assessment suites, Applied Measurement in Education, 21 (4).
  • Ayala, C. C., & Brandon, P. R. (2008b). Building evaluation recommendations for improvement: Insights from student formative assessments. In N. L. Smith & P. R. Brandon (Eds.), Fundamental issues in evaluation (pp. 159–166). New York: Guilford.
  • Shavelson, R. J., Yin, Y., Furtak, E. M., Ruiz-Primo, M. A., & Ayala, C. C. (2008). On the Role and Impact of Formative Assessment on Science Inquiry Teaching and Learning. In Assessing Science Learning, Perspectives From Research and Practice (pp. 21-36). NSTA press.
  • Ayala, C.C., Shavelson, R. and Romance Team. (2005).  Formative assessment guidelines for teachers. Science Scope,  National Association for Science Teacher.

Grants   (Selected)

  • Source: National Science Foundation NOYCE Program
    Award: Mathematics and Science Teacher Recruitment
    Amount: $900,000
    Date: Awarded Summer 2009
    Purpose: This grant was funded to support math and science teacher recruitment.
  • Source: California State University System
    Award: Mathematics and Science Teacher Recruitment
    Amount: $75,000
    Date: Awarded December 2007, 2008 and 2009
    Purpose: This grant was funded to support math and science teacher recruitment.
  • Source: US Department of  Education
    Award: Cinematic Sciences:  Online 3D physics program
    Amount: $95,000
    Date: Awarded August 2007
    Purpose: Develop curriculum and assessments using an online physics environment
  • Source:National Science Foundation
    Award: Chemistry Facets: Formative Assessments for Chemistry Teachers
    Amount: $246,000
    Date: Awarded September 2007
    Purpose: Develop a formative assessment system using Minstrell’s Diagnoser system
  • Source: National Science Foundation/University of Hawai’i –Manoa
    Award:Study of the Effects of Professional Development and Long-term Support on Curriculum Implementation and Scaling Up
  • Amount: $246,286.00 Date: August 03—October 05
    Purpose: Study the effects on professional development on curriculum implementation.