Director’s Message

Susanna Loeb

Susanna Loeb
Director, Annenberg Institute at Brown University Professor of Education
Professor of International and Public Affairs

Welcome to the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.

The Annenberg Institute is dedicated to understanding the causes and consequences of educational inequality and to reduce this inequality through innovative, multidimensional, and research-informed approaches. As set forth in our mission statement, our conviction is that reduced inequality and improved educational opportunities lead to enriched lives for children and youth, ultimately contributing to more just and flourishing societies.

By leveraging the strength of Brown — a research university committed to integrative and transformative scholarship — the Annenberg Institute seeks to help children and youth succeed both in the classroom and beyond.

Universities are well positioned to develop leaders and to create new knowledge that is actionable and impactful. At the Annenberg Institute, we are building three programs that provide infrastructure to leverage these strengths for the benefit of education broadly. Our investment in these programs both undergirds our own work and — we hope — models how peer universities can drive positive social change and improve K-12 student outcomes by supporting engaged scholarship.

Our first infrastructure initiative is our investment in creating long-term research-practice partnerships both locally and nationally. In Providence and throughout Rhode Island, we work closely with stakeholders to improve the quality of schools and the experiences of students while producing nationally relevant research. Around the country, we have established a variety of additional ongoing relationships with school districts and other entities that enable us to pilot, expand and modify thoughtfully targeted research studies.

Secondly, we are building a set of tools for researchers, educators and even parents that aim to increase the effects of research on practice. For researchers, we have already launched tools that make it possible for users to identify the most reliable measurement instruments appropriate for their needs and consult the pre-publication work of their peers. Soon, we will also launch a resource that gives researchers one place to access publicly available education data to support research and policy recommendations. For educators and parents, we are developing innovative tools for improving opportunities for students: our new dashboards for school leaders focus on addressing inequality; and our parenting and caregiver programs use text-message prompts, building on a new understanding of how to affect adult behavior change. These tools can be scaled up and adapted for different contexts, allowing researchers and practitioners to pivot quickly to respond to the needs of different populations.

Finally, we are investing in developing individuals to do the work of education research. We also collaborate with faculty, students and programs throughout Brown; we host a cohort of visiting faculty; and through our robust postdoctoral program and a recently launched undergraduate fellows program, we are training a new generation of education leaders. We focus on two content areas central to high quality education. First, our Center for Student Well-being is engaged in working to understand how multiple institutions — including schools, healthcare systems, and families among others — interact to affect student flourishing. This concept of “flourishing” includes, but also transcends, traditional metrics of academic success. Student well-being depends on developing a range of capabilities that contribute to economic productivity, independent thinking, healthy relationship-building, and civic participation. One of our central objectives is to find better ways of measuring, studying and nurturing these essential capabilities and the institutions that affect them. Our second area of focus is on understanding educators, and how best to recruit, develop and retain the talented educators who provide the learning environments that students need to thrive. Our Center on the Study of Educators studies these critical issues.

These interconnected, faculty-led centers of work drive our fast-paced and ambitious agenda, generating new knowledge and translating that knowledge into accessible formats so that it is most useful for education improvement.

As the Annenberg Institute continues to grow, our ongoing commitment to equalizing and enhancing educational opportunities for children remains constant, and will continue to guide the direction of our scholarship, with the goal of improving children’s lives.