Faculty & Staff Directory

Douglas J. Mac Iver, PhD


Keywords: Community involvement; remediation and intervention; risky behavior; college readiness; school climate and safety

O: (410) 516-8829

Douglas Mac Iver is a research professor and director in the School of Education’s Center for the Social Organization of Schools. A developmental psychologist, he has spent 30 years evaluating and developing programs and policies that aim to change classrooms, middle schools and high schools, districts and communities so that more students stay on a path toward on-time high school graduation and career and college readiness. He has published over 40 research articles, chapters, books and monographs on comprehensive middle-grades reform, preventing student disengagement and dropping out during the middle and high school grades, and on the implementation and impacts of programs that increase engagement and learning during early and later adolescence. He is one of the founders of the Talent Development Secondary Program, and led that program’s comprehensive school reform work in the middle grades for 15 years. His current work includes randomized control trials testing restorative practices, a promising solution to the persistent disciplinary problems that plague many of the secondary schools serving high-poverty neighborhoods in big cities, and testing Diplomas Now, a secondary-school transformation model that enhances student supports and strengthens learning environments, curriculum, instruction and professional development. He is also engaged in a an IES development project that equips high school teachers to increase student motivation and course-passing, and in a continuous improvement partnership with the Seattle public schools that is engaging families to support the transition from middle to high school and improve ninth-grade student outcomes. He has won awards for his school development work and applied evaluation research, including a Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Community Service from Johns Hopkins and a Human Development Research Award from the American Educational Research Association’s Division E.


Ph.D., 1986, University of Michigan, Developmental Psychology

A.B., 1979, Occidental College, Psychology


Professor (Research), School of Education, Johns Hopkins University, 2012 – present

Co-Director, Center for the Social Organization of Schools (CSOS), 2006 – present

Principal Research Scientist, CSOS, 1998 – 2012

Associate Director, CSOS, 1993 – 1998

Research Scientist and Program Director, CSOS, 1992 – 1998

Associate Research Scientist and Project Director, CSOS, 1988 – 1992

NIMH Postdoctoral Scholar in Applied Human Development, UCLA Graduate School of Education, 1986 – 1988 (Mentors: Deborah Stipek & Leigh Burstein)

Research Associate, Achievement Research Lab, ISR, University of Michigan, 1983 – 1986 (Mentor: Jacquelynne Eccles)


1997 Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Community Service, Johns Hopkins Institutions

1992 Human Development Research Award (with 5 co-authors), AERA Division E


Mac Iver, D.  (1987).  Classroom factors and student­ characteristics predicting students’ use of achievement standards ­during ability self-assessment.  Child Development, 58, 1258-71.

Mac Iver, D.  (1988).  Classroom environments and the ­stratification of pupils’ ability perceptions.  Journal of ­Educational Psychology, 80(4), 495-505.

Shatz, M., Hoff-Ginsberg, E., & Mac Iver, D. (1989). ­Induction and the acquisition of English auxiliaries: The effects of differentially enriched input.  Journal of Child Language, 16, 121-140.

Stipek, D. & Mac Iver, D.  (1989).  Developmental change ­in children’s assessment of intellectual competence, Child­ Development, 60, 521-538.

Epstein, J. L., & Mac Iver, D. J.  (1990).  Education ­in the middle grades: National practices and trends.  Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association.

Mac Iver, D. J.  (1990).  Meeting the needs of young­ adolescents: Advisory groups, interdisciplinary teams of ­teachers, and school transition programs.  Phi Delta Kappan71(6), 458-464.  This article has been reprinted in­ Annual Editions: Educational Psychology 91/92.  Guilford, CT: Dushkin Publishing.

Mac Iver, D. J., & Epstein, J. L.  (1991). Responsive ­practices in the middle grades: Teacher teams, advisory groups, ­remedial instruction, and school transition programs. ­American Journal of Education, 99, 587-622.

Mac Iver, D. J., Stipek, D. J., & Daniels, D. H.  (1991). ­Explaining within-semester changes in student effort in junior ­high school and senior high school courses.  Journal of­ Educational Psychology, 83, 201-211.

Wigfield, A., Eccles, J. S., Mac Iver, D., Reuman, D. A., & Midgley, C.  (1991).  Transitions during early adolescence:  Changes in children’s domain-specific self-perceptions and ­general self-esteem across the transition to junior high school. Developmental Psychology, 27, 552-565.

Mac Iver, D. J., & Epstein, J. L.  (1993).  Middle grades ­research: Not yet mature, but no longer a child.  Elementary­ School Journal, 93, 519-533.

Mac Iver, D. J.  (1993).  Effects of improvement-focused ­student recognition on young adolescents’ performance and ­motivation in the classroom.  In P. R. Pintrich & M. L. Maehr­(Eds.), Advances in Motivation and Achievement: Vol. 8,­ Motivation and Adolescence (pp. 193-218).  Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Mac Iver, D. J. & Reuman, D. A. (Winter 1993/1994). ­Giving their best: Grading and recognition practices that ­motivate students to work hard. American Educator, 24-31.  This article has been reprinted in­ Annual Editions: Education 95/96.  Guilford, CT: Dushkin Publishing.

Mac Iver, D. J., Reuman, D.A., & Main, S.  (1995).  Social structuring of the ­school.  In M. R. Rosenzweig and L. W. Porter (Eds.), Annual­ Review of Psychology: Vol. 46, (pp. 375-40).  Annual Reviews Inc.: Palo­ Alto, CA.

Mac Iver, D. J., & Plank, S. B.  (1997).  Improving urban schools: Developing the talents of students placed at risk.  In J. L. Irvin (Ed.),  What current research says to the middle level practitioner. (pp. 243-256).  Columbus, OH: National Middle School Association.

Mac Iver, D.J. Balfanz, R., & Plank, S. B.  (1998).  An ‘elective replacement’ approach to providing extra help in math: The Talent Development Middle Schools’ Computer- and Team-Assisted Mathematics Acceleration (CATAMA) Program.  Research in Middle Level Education Quarterly, 22(2), 1-23.

Mac Iver, D. Mac Iver, M., Balfanz, R. Plank, S.B., & Ruby, A. (2000).  Talent Development Middle Schools: Blueprint and results for a comprehensive whole- school reform model.  In M. G. Sanders (Ed.), Schooling students placed at risk: Research, policy, and practice in the education of poor and minority adolescents (Chapter 12, pp. 292-319).  Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Mac Iver, D.J., & Balfanz, R.  (2000).  The school district’s role in helping high-poverty schools become high performing.  In B. Gaddy (Ed.), Including at-risk students in standards-based reform: A report on McREL’s Diversity Roundtable II.  (Chapter 4, pp. 35-69).  Aurora, CO: Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL).

Balfanz, R. & Mac Iver, D. J.  (2000).  Transforming high poverty urban middle schools into strong learning institutions: Lessons from the first five years of the Talent Development Middle School.  Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk, 51(1&2), 137-158.

Mac Iver, D.J., Young, E., Balfanz, R., Shaw, A., Garriott, M., & Cohen, A.  (2001).  High quality learning opportunities in high poverty middle schools: Moving from rhetoric to reality.  In T. Dickinson (Ed.), Reinventing the middle school (pp. 155-175).  New York: Routledge Falmer.

Mac Iver, D. J., Young, E. A., & Washburn, B.  (2002).  Instructional practices and motivation during middle school (with special attention to science).  In A. Wigfield & J. Eccles (Eds.), Development of achievement motivation (pp. 333-351).  San Diego, Ca: Academic Press.

Balfanz, R., Ruby, A., & Mac Iver, D.  (2002).  Essential components and next steps for comprehensive whole-school reform in high poverty middle schools.  In S. Stringfield & D. Land (Eds.), Educating At-Risk Students: One Hundred-first Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Part II.  (pp. 128-147).  Chicago, Il: NSSE.

Plank, S. & Mac Iver, D. J.  (2003).  Chapter 26: Educational achievement.  In M. H. Bornstein, L. Davidson, C. M. Keyes, K.A. Moore, & the Center for Child Well-Being (Eds.), Well-being: Positive development across the life course. (pp. 341-354). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Mac Iver, D.J., Ruby, A., Balfanz, R. & Byrnes, V.  (2003).  Removed from the list: A comparative longitudinal case study of a reconstitution-eligible school.  Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 18 (3): 259-289.

Mac Iver, D.J., Balfanz, R., Ruby, A., Byrnes, V., Lorentz, S., & Jones, L.  (2004).  Developing adolescent literacy in high poverty middle schools: The impact of Talent Development’s reforms across multiple years and sites.  In P.R. Pintrich and M.L. Maehr (Eds.), Motivating students, improving schools: The legacy of Carol Midgley (Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Volume 13, pp. 185-207).  Oxford, U.K.: Elsevier.

Balfanz, R., Mac Iver, D. J., & Byrnes, V. (2006) The implementation and impact of evidence based mathematics reforms in high poverty middle schools: Multi-school, multi-year studies.  Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 37, 33-64.

Mac Iver, M. & Mac Iver, D. J.  (2006).  Which bets paid off?  Early findings on the impact of private management and K-8 conversion reforms on the achievement of Philadelphia students.  Review of Policy Research, 23, 1077-1093.

Balfanz, R., Herzog, L., & Mac Iver, D. J. (2007).  Preventing student disengagement and keeping students on the graduation path in urban middle-grades schools: Early identification and effective interventions.  In K. Wentzel & A. Wigfield (Eds.), Promoting motivation in school: Interventions that work [Special Issue], Educational Psychologist, 42(4), 223-235.

Mac Iver, M. & Mac Iver, D.J.  (2007).  Privatizing education in Philadelphia:  Are educational management organizations improving student achievement?  Working Paper 141. National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University. 

Mac Iver, M. A. & Mac Iver D. J. (2008).  Middle school reform.  In T. L. Good (Ed.), 21st Century Education: A reference handbook (pp. 309-317).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Mac Iver, M. A. & Mac Iver, D. J. (2009). Beyond the indicators: An integrated school-level approach to dropout prevention. Arlington, VA: The Mid-Atlantic Equity Center, George Washington University Center for Equity and Excellence in Education.

Mac Iver, M. & Mac Iver, D.J. (2009).  Urban middle grades student mathematics achievement growth under comprehensive school reform.  Journal of Educational Research, 102, 223-236.

Mac Iver, M. & Mac Iver, D. (2010).  Keeping on track in ninth grade and beyond: Baltimore’s ninth graders in 2007-2008.  Baltimore, MD: Baltimore Education Research Consortium.

Mac Iver, D. J., Ruby, A., Balfanz, R., Jones, L., Sion, F., Garriott, M. D., et al. (2010).  The Talent Development Middle Grades Model: A design for improving early adolescents’ developmental trajectories in high-poverty schools.  In J. L. Meece & J. S. Eccles (Eds.), Handbook of research on schools, schooling, and development (pp. 446-462).  New York: Routledge.

Mac Iver, M.A. & Mac Iver, D.J.  (2010).  How do we ensure that everyone graduates?  An integrated prevention and tiered intervention model for schools and districts.  New Directions for Youth Development, 127, 25-35.

Ransom, J. Griffis, H., Eder, J., Byrnes, V., French, B., Balfanz, R., Mac Iver, D., & Rubin, D. (2015).  A promise worth keeping: Advancing the high school graduation rate in Philadelphia. Philadelphia, PA: Project U-Turn.

Fernandez, F., Mac Iver, D., & Sepanik, S. (2015, October).  Laying the tracks to graduation: System- and school-level continuous improvement of the Diplomas Now model.  Nashville, TN: The National Center on Scaling Up Effective Schools, Vanderbilt University.

Mac Iver, M. A., Mac Iver, D. J. & Clark, E. (2015, October).  Building a college readiness indicator system: Progress in the Dallas Independent School District.  Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University, School of Education, Everyone Graduates Center.

Mac Iver, M.A. & Mac Iver, D. J. (published online 2015, December).  “STEMming” the swell of absenteeism in the middle years: Impacts of an urban district summer robotics program, Urban Education, DOI: 10.1177/0042085915618712.

Balfanz, R., Mac Iver D., & Byrnes, V. (2016).  The implementation and impact of mathematics reform in high poverty-middle schools. In E.A. Silver & P.A. Kenney (Eds.), More lessons learned from research (pp. 7-18)Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Mac Iver, M.A. & Mac Iver, D.J. (2017).  Improving college readiness for historically underserved students:  The role of the district office.  Education and Urban Society, 1-27.

Mac Iver, M.A.; Sheldon, S.; Epstein, J., Rice, E., Mac Iver, D; & Simmons, A. (2018).  Engaging families in the high school transition: Initial findings from a continuous improvement initiative.  School Community Journal, 28(1).

Mac Iver, D. J. & Hann, T. M. Z. (Forthcoming, May 2019).  Effective school reforms for increasing engagement. In J. Fredricks, A. L., Reschly, & S. L. Christenson (Eds.), The handbook of student interventions: Working with disengaged students. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press.


PI, U.S. Department of Education, A Regression Discontinuity Study of the Impact of ALFA Lab on 9th-Graders’ Reading Achievement Motivation and Reading Frequency, September 2018 – August 2022, $3.25M

Co-PI, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Randomized Controlled Trial of My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentors and Student Support Initiative and Planned Variations to Support Widespread Scaling, $1.372M

Co-PI, U.S. Department of Education, Continuous Improvement in Schools Equipping Families to Support Students in Transition to High School, July 2015-June 2019, $2.5M

Co-PI, U.S. Department of Education, Equipping High School Teachers to Increase Student Motivation and Course Passing Rates, July 2015-June 2019, $1.5M

Co-PI, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education, Extending the Evaluation of the Talent Development-Diplomas Now 2010 I3 Validation Study: Impacts on Long-Term Outcomes, October 2015- September 2019, $2.8M

Co-PI, U.S. Department of Education, Investing In Innovations Fund, Validating the Talent Development-Diplomas Now School Turnaround Model, October 2010–September 2015 $30M

Co-PI, Carnegie Corporation, Extending the Diplomas Now I3 Study, Jul 2014-Feb 2015, $500K

Co-PI, Atlantic Philanthropies, Randomized Control Trial of Restorative Practices, January 2014 to July 2017, $1M

Co-PI, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, College Readiness Indicator Systems: District Use Case Development, November 2013-August 2015, $500K

Co-I, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Action Evaluation of the American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen Initiative, $375K

Subaward PI, U.S. Department of Education, Enhancing Middle-Grades Mathematics Outcomes for All: Strengthening Mathematics Teaching and Learning for Special Populations, 3 years, $600K

Co-I, U.S. Department of Education, Evaluation of the Math Acceleration Lab for Urban, High-Poverty, High-Minority Students in the Middle and High School Grades.  3 years, $1.1M