Bold Ideas

Innovative ways to tackle big challenges in education

Communities, schools, and families are grappling with profound challenges: school safety and health. social-emotional well-being. societal and racial inequity. At the Johns Hopkins School of Education, our researchers bring the best expertise, dig into the evidence, and uncover surprising new possibilities. Here are some of our bold ideas—and the researchers behind them. 

Annette Anderson

Build trust among school families by providing consistent messaging.

The Johns Hopkins eSchool+ Initiative’s state-by-state dashboard of COVID-19 policies and vaccination progress guides policymakers, educators, and families as they navigate a return to classroom education.

Robert Balfanz

Jumpstart high school success with social-emotional learning.

Backed by a five-year, $5.8 million federal EIR grant, Everyone Graduates Center Director Robert Balfanz and his team are building “Skills for Secondary School Success” to give eighth graders the critical social-emotional learning skills they need to succeed in high school and beyond.

Robert Balfanz

Rally “People Power” to Undo Pandemic Learning Loss

The scale of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on education was so unprecedented, ordinary interventions simply aren’t enough. That’s why Everyone Graduates Center Director Robert Balfanz is working to build a massive, national partnership that can make a difference.

Ashley Berner

Not all schools are the same. Think pluralism.

In seeking new models for improving school effectiveness and educational equity, Associate Professor Ashley Berner, director of the Institute for Education Policy, looks to systems that have proven successful around the world. A crucial factor is “educational pluralism,” in which all of a nation’s schools—public, charter, private, parochial, and more—are important partners in fulfilling the promise of its children’s education.


Progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion takes data.

Embarking on the Johns Hopkins School of Education’s first-ever, comprehensive equity audit, Associate Dean Norma Day-Vines and her team are bringing a trademark focus on evidence-based improvement in education to the task of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion within the school’s own community.

Jim Diamond

Educators innovate. Let’s help them be social entrepreneurs.

In the age of COVID-19, educators became nimble, creative adopters of technology. According to Jim Diamond, head of the School of Education’s Digital Age Learning and Educational Technology program, these are the same traits that made legends of startup founders in other industries. Diamond and his colleagues want to help educators become social entrepreneurs, creating humane solutions to today’s big educational challenges

Joyce Epstein

Apply research. Engage families. Change society.

When Joyce Epstein founded the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS), the notion that schools and families must work together to help students learn was itself a bold idea. In its first 25 years, NNPS has helped more than 5,000 schools build and improve those partnerships.

Hunter Gehlbach

Publishing failed research might be a good thing.

School of Education Professor Hunter Gehlbach and his colleagues are leading a field-wide charge to bring open science to education research. Open data. Open code. Open materials. Educators, administrators, and learners everywhere stand to gain.

Odis Johnson

To improve math scores, take a long, hard look at school surveillance.

Does your school’s surveillance system protect students—or punish them? An NSF-funded study by Odis Johnson, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and executive director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Safe and Healthy Schools, shows that high surveillance can lead to more suspensions, lower math scores, and less chance of attending college.

Richard Lofton

Make better education policy by listening to students and families.

The “Nobody Asked Me” campaign builds on personal interviews with those whose voices are rarely heard in Baltimore’s education debate—students and families. The campaign’s lessons provide key context to quantitative data and help district leaders and policymakers shape better policies that serve all involved.

Christopher Morphew

To Attract New Teachers, Respect Their Profession

The national shortage of teachers did not happen overnight, argues Johns Hopkins School of Education Dean Christopher Morphew, and tackling it will take multifaceted, long-term solutions. But we can start by valuing our teachers as trained professionals.

Jonathan Plucker

Want Innovation? Unlock Creativity.

The Johns Hopkins School of Education’s Jonathan Plucker and his colleagues have identified creativity as the real engine behind innovation—and are identifying new ways to measure it.

David Steiner

After a pandemic, don’t remediate. Accelerate.

To counteract pandemic-associated learning loss, Johns Hopkins education policy expert David Steiner urges schools to accelerate: Keep students working at grade level rather than repeating the lessons they missed.

The schools, organizations, and communities we serve are confronting complex, far-reaching problems, and tackling them requires deep, empirically informed change. It takes bold ideas—backed by evidence.

Christopher C. Morphew
Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education

Dean Morphew Portrait




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